Rough guide to
About this rough guide
How our predictions went
Season '04-05 index
Rough guide to... Lincoln City
3 August 2004
In a nutshell
A club with a history of financial disasters and of momentary generational hope dashed by chance and chancers. Four times demoted from the Football League, they always return straight away, so they are the beast that won't die at the end of the horror show. They're fighters and they demand fighting: none of that namby-pamby, tippy-tappy Town stuff. Get forward, get it in. Where's Percy Freeman when you need him?
The first team to be automatically relegated from the Football League, in 198687. A recent penchant for madmen in charge of the team: from Murphy's syntax to Chairman Reames' egomania, your average Imp fastens his seatbelt at the start of every season.
Their finest hour
Erm, being in the old, old second division for a few years? No, that's a purely statistics-driven view, where numbers are all. What about that inner feeling, that pride at achievement against the odds? Got to be the resurrection under "Big Keef". A wrecked, ruined shell in 2002; pitiless, penniless, hopeless, in administration; a team cobbled together from various non-League outfits. The result? Not just survival, but a play-off final to boot, which is exactly the word that springs to mind to describe their impact upon Brian Laws' Iron-aged plunderers' backsides. Hey Lincolnites, we were with you all the way on that one.
You could say it was Graham Taylor's red and white army of 197576, but I won't, even though he called me "a clever young man" at the Monks Abbey Middle School fayre. You see he hasn't always been wrong, has he.
Now who could they despise? Any local rivalries? They really, really appreciate all that Grimsby Town have done to them sorry, I meant for them and will hail a Townite with a hearty hug. They particularly love us for dumping our old has-beens and never-will-bes on them.
Of course they narrow their eyes at fellow yellowbellies, but they generally look west, towards Nottinghamshire.
They don't know it, but there is an ancient enmity for Coventry and Bury, who fixed a game just after the First World War which meant Lincoln were booted out of the League. Don't laugh but Town had finished below them too. That's the price of fish for you.
They had a Mayo and a Yeo; a Fletcher, a Futcher and a Butcher; a Gain and a lot of pain when they blew a two-goal lead in the play-off semi-final against Huddersfield. Yes, they got there again, courtesy of a solid defence, some rumbustious, rampaging attacking and a maniacal desire to fight for Keith Alexander after his brain thing.
There was always something happening down Sincil Bank. Like their pitch, their days were never as flat as the fens.
Who's the Dadi?
Pick any one of a dozen. How about Ben Futcher, the son of our Cod? No, he hasn't got a penchant for wispy beards and walking around in a blanket; he shares a gene pool with Paul Futcher. He's big and he heads the ball. Or Marcus Richardson. He's big and he heads the ball. Ah, Matthew Bloomer, one of Lennie's scapegoats, resurrected in the city with the church on the hill: it could be you.
The Alex is a man with a plan and has a ruthless streak. Last season players were given four bad games before being dropped. This season it will be two. And he's rid the club of 10 players who just aren't good enough. Reversing that historical trend, he has a very long barge pole indeed whenever one of our old failures heads south-west. The bypass is second left after the traffic lights, Mr Barnard.
They either score spectacular goals or horrible scrambles. The misnamed Imps have a lot of big men, a load of long throws and a willingness to thwack goalwards from any old port in the storm. In short, enough to stop most opponents and to frighten everyone. Whether the steam has gone out of their Heath Robinson contraption, time will tell. Can Alexander keep up the momentum with a depleted squad? The bottom line with Lincoln is always their unwillingness and/or inability to splash enough cash when poised to rise. Plus ça change?
They'll be around the play-offs for sure, so I'll plump for seventh, because it was the first number that came into my head, after 45th, where even Town couldn't possibly finish, could they?
The first ever tank was built in Tritton Road. It's one of the ten players just released by Big Keef, for being a bit too slow.
The club has its origins in Cowpaddle, a ropey bit of land where ruminants roamed. Nice to see them keep some footballing traditions going in this high-falutin' modern age of working drains and grass seed.
Imps with allotments and comfortable slippers revere the management of Bill Anderson in the 50s, who even managed to get them above Town in the Lincolnshire pecking order, which is surely a folk song if ever there was one.
But it's the 70s and 80s that provided some big triumphs and disasters. Yes, we all know about Graham Taylor; he used to shout a lot for Town when we were atrocious. That's a previous period of atrociousness, not last season. But you can't have forgotten about Colin Murphy, a man who waged guerrilla warfare upon the English language. He was the Jackson Pollock of grammar; a walking, writing cult fictioner. He was pretty successful with 'em too. The boys of '79 were some team. What about that Reames fellow? A chairman who was also manager. Shudder. Oh, hellooooo. There was that moment when John Beck was arrested on the Sincil Bank pitch before a game. For all lovers of the beautiful game, it was a beautiful moment.
Here's something. Last season Lincoln had Gary Fletcher playing for them. This season they have Gary Taylor-Fletcher. A new man? No, a New Man: hats off to him for connecting with his Y chromosome. Newly married, he gave patronymics a modern tweak by absorbing his wife's maiden name into his.
Oh, you want all that celebrity supporter nonsense, don't you. John Inverdale. Who else? Well, there's Hugh of Lincoln, though they don't like to mention that one.
Lincoln is now a hip and happenin' place, thanks to the university. Young people strolling around with their young hair and colourful clothes, partying on a Saturday night. If you've ever heard Radio Potato - sorry, I mean Radio Lincolnshire - you'd know that they want more public conveniences to service the revellers and levellers. It's official then: Lincoln is an open toilet.
Official site, Rivals site. They exist, they are what you'd expect, they tell you what they always tell you. How about the forgotten imp? What about it? It told me a few things I didn't know. The e-world is a barren planet when it comes to all things Lincoln City. I found no sexy Scandinavian websites specialising in Glenn Cockerill's perm, no cyberstalkers of chairman Reames, nothing, zilcho.