CLUB GUIDE: Lincoln City
Picture of The Lincolnshire Echo Stand at Sincil Bank.Formed in 1884 as an amateur association, Lincoln turned professional in the 1891/92 season. Originally they played at the John O'Gaunts ground, however, in 1895 they moved to their current ground, Sincil Bank.
Their honours include three Division 3 (North) championships in 1931/32, 47/48 and 51/52, a Division 4 (now League Two) championship in 1975/76 (when they were managed by future England manager Graham Taylor & broke the record for most points for a whole season when 2 instead of 3 points were awarded for a win with 74 points), and most recently they were Conference champions in the 1987/88 season. Their highest ever position achieved came in the 1901/02 season, where they reached 5th position in the English Division 2 (now known as the Championship). In very recent history, the club have also been in the chase for promotion from the fourth tier via the play-offs four times, twice reaching the finals (2002/03 & 04/05) and twice getting knocked out in the semi-finals (2003/04 & 05/06), each time under the guidance of Keith Alexender. The last time Lincoln were in a higher league than League Two was in the 1998/99 season where they played in the Division 2 (now League One), after they had gained automatic promotion via 3rd position the previous season.
The world-famous 'Dambusters' theme is normally played when Lincoln score at Sincil Bank and supporters of the club can often be heard singing the tune and doing the flying motions when this happens. This is because of the fact that The Dambusters were based just outside of Lincoln, being formed at the nearby RAF Scampton during World War II, and are therefore at the heart of the cities history.
Having formed officially as an amateur association in 1884, Lincoln had in fact been playing football since the 1860s. Lincoln soon helped to form what was then the Second Division in 1892, when the senior Football League and the fledgling Football Alliance (the league which they were playing in) combined. The first game at Sincil Bank, after moving from the John O'Gaunts Ground, was a 0 - 0 draw with local rivals, Gainsborough Trinity.
Up until the 1920s Lincoln spent most of their time swinging between the Second Division and the more localised leagues, the Midland and also the Central league. After then, however, in the 1921/22 season, Lincoln, along with several other clubs from the Central and Midland leagues, founded the Third Division (North). The newly founded league and the Second Division would take turns in becoming Lincoln's home up until the early 1960s where they would drop a further division to the Fourth Division in the 1962/63 season. Ever since the 1960/61 season, Lincoln have never returned to the second tier of English football. They have, however, had numerous spells in the third tier and one spell in the Conference National.
The '80s - Present
In 1985, Lincoln were the opposition at Bradford City when the Bradford Fire claimed the lives of 56 spectators - two of them, Bill Stacey and Jim West, were Lincoln fans, and subsequently these fans had the Stacey West stand named after them.
Two years later, they became the first team to suffer automatic relegation from the Football League. They regained their Football League place automatically via promotion as champions of the Conference (beforehand it was done by re-election) at the first attempt and have held on to it ever since.
On 8 September 1990, Lincoln were the opposition when David Longhurst suffered a fatal heart attack during the first half of a game against York City at Bootham Crescent. The game was abandoned at half-time.
The Lincolnshire derby, between Lincoln City and local rivals Boston United, being played at Sincil Bank.Recently they have spent most of their time in the former Division 3 (now League Two) with one season spent in Division 2 (now League One) in the 1998/99 season.
In 2002/03, with the departure of manager Alan Buckley his assistant, Keith Alexander, was put in charge and given the task of keeping the team in the football league, he proved the many pundits and fans who believed that Lincoln would be relegated and sent out of business due to financial irregularities wrong. With a team made up of cheap ex-non-league players and the lower paid members of the previous seasons squad he managed to take them to the Play-Off final which they lost 5-2 to Bournemouth. The team were rewarded with a civil reception in Lincoln, and an open-top bus ride through Lincoln, an event usually preserved for the winners of such competitions, but was awarded to the team because of the massive achievement.
In 2003/04 Alexander again confounded the critics by coaching the Imps to another Play-Off position, this time losing to eventual winners Huddersfield Town in the semi-finals. Alexander, one of the very few black managers in the Football League, had a very serious brain injury (a cerebral aneurysm) halfway through the season, but made a full recovery.
In the 2004/05 season they again qualified for the play-offs, for a third year running, and in the semi-finals Lincoln beat Macclesfield Town 2-1 on aggregate over two legs but lost in the final against Southend United 2-0 after extra time.
In the 2005/06 season Lincoln City again reached the play-offs after many fans and critics believed that they would finish in the mid-table after losing many of their first team regulars from the previous 3 campaigns. In January both Alexander and former Assistant Manager, Gary Simpson, were put on gardening leave by the board. Alexander was soon after reinstated, however, Simpson was never to return. Shortly after, over a disagreement with other board members over the way the club was being run and certain personnel, two prominent board members, Ray Trew and Keith Roe departed from the club. Lincoln brushed this saga to the side though, and finished 7th in League 2 after only losing 3 games since the new year. Lincoln were to face local neighbours Grimsby Town in the play-offs, a side they had beaten 5-0 at Sincil Bank earlier in the season. However, once again it was not to be, as Lincoln lost 3-1 on aggregate to become the first team ever to lose four consecutive play-off competitions.
After speculation that he would take up the managerial role at Peterborough United, Keith Alexander left his position as manager of Lincoln City by mutual consent on May 24, 2006 stating that he could take the club no further, and shortly after on June 15 John Schofield was appointed his successor, with John Deehan as Director of Football.
In recent years, the club have produced arguably one of the most successful youth academies in the lower leagues of English football. Players such as Jack Hobbs, who now plays for European giants Liverpool, and Scott Loach, who now plays for Premiership strugglers Watford, are evidence of this. Players such as Lee Frecklington and Owain Warlow who are still playing for the club, have also been cited as hot-prospects for the future, the former receiving interest from a number of Premiership clubs and a call-up for the Ireland B international squad, and the latter receiving a call-up for the Wales U-21 international squad. Other young talent who were not products of the clubs youth academy, yet were snapped up at a young age, have been seen in the likes of Jeff Hughes, Lee Beevers, Ryan Amoo and Paul Green, emphasising the clubs desire to bring future success through new talent and hot prospects and not just proven players.