A rough guide to... Lincoln City

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

28 September 2017

Lincoln are our footballing stalkers, mostly harmless but occasionally prone to attack us with blunt scissors. This time the scissors might be slightly sharper.

How are you?

Limps, Wimps, Blimps and Chimps, Graham Taylor, planes and boats and trains, John Beck's arrest on the pitch, Sort-it-Slade's flipchart meltdown, and their perennial boxing day blues. I remember the time we knew what happiness was. Now they're back, let those memories live again.

Ambishun! Those Impites are eying up a new ground in the Western Growth Corridor of uncertainty. Where be that? It's right in the middle of the area known locally as Swanpool. It's called Swanpool because swans swim in its pools of water. Yup, it's the badlands to the west of Tritton Road, slap bang in the middle of the floodplain. Typical Impites, always striving for the perfect mud heap for their brand of football.

They've had a good time since the Cowley boys bombed up from Braintree. Too good. Far, far too good. It's mildly disconcerting, but we can always rely on the inevitable IMPlosion. They always do. Come on Southend, make Danny Boy an offer he can't refuse.

What have you been up to?

Oh brother yellowbellies, where art thou?

After our fashion, Lincoln were formed in 1884, turning professional in 1891. Originally they played at the boggy old John O' Gaunts ground and, in 1895, they became the soggy bottom boys of old Sincil Bank. And it's been a tale of constant sorrow ever since. The club motto? Quasi non satis, prope: nearly, not quite, almost.

Their highest ever league position was in 1902, fifth in Division Two. Ha, beat ya there, Impites. Their best ever cup run was last year, to the quarter-finals. Ha, beat ya again. Two-nil to the Mariners. Well, you're used to that.

They really didn't do much for ages, and haven't even been above Division Three since 1960. Lincoln City existed on, and possibly for, the pools coupons, that's all. The dwindling band of fans were left to feast on the minor morsel of Norrie Fairgray's winner at Stamford Bridge in 1907 until our old captain slipped out of Town to sort them out. Yep, all their dusty roads lead to Graham Taylor: you know the name, now look up the numbers.

In the 1975-76 season they won 32 games, including 21 at home, only lost four, scored 111 goals and broke the record for most points for a whole season with 74, when two instead of three points were awarded for a win. Phew, what a scorcher.

Reader, I was accidentally there that year. I have seen everything, I have seen Percy Freeman fly.

They nearly went up to the second division in 1982 and 1983, but they fainted when near the summit and tumbled and stumbled through to George Kerr's shipwreck of a season in 1987, sealing the record for the most demotions from the Football League. Yeah, yeah, they came straight back up, but so what, nothing happened for ages until Big Keith replaced Sir Alan of Buckley, replacing football with rugby league. Quasi non satis, prope: five glorious years of play-off failures followed, including the Lumpaldinho-led levelling in 2006.

And having flown too close to the sun, they fell out of the Sky orbit and joined us in the Dark Place. And then they followed us out again.

They are basically our footballing stalker. Mostly harmless, but occasionally prone to attack us with blunt scissors.

What kind of season did you have?

Last season's Lincoln? Like Braintree with a budget. That could have been us you know, if Fenty had got his finger out and sacked the Short One at Baldock Services after Wembley. Let's not get sniffy about it though, eh. It's nice to see the joskins from just down the road enjoy themselves now and again.

Little Old Lincoln had a lovely time, what with the Bananarama being denuded of decent teams. And Cheltenham. Hey, even Fruits of the Forest Green failed to avoid getting promoted, so it must have been even ropier than during our days in the Dark Place.

But you can only beat the eggs that are cracked into your bowl. Tearaway runaway Bananarama champions, with the sideshow of being quarter-finalists in the FA Cup after a succession of tramplings of big egos and media fawnings over Danny Cowley's Lincoln. Yep, the ultimate patronising condescension: a historic old club reduced to being an appendage.

They beat Ipswich in the fog, Burnley in the sunshine and smog, and spent the whole afternoon singing about us at Arsenal. How quaint. They're still crazy about us after all these years.

Lincoln played like Lincoln. Big balls (aka Fat Matt), lots of huffing and puffing and a relentless reliance on set pieces. Having a competent management team, like a little running, goes a long-long-long-long-way, just like Farman's punts. Where would they be without the Cowleys?

How are you feeling?

They shouldn't even think about tomorrow; sweet memories of last season will last a long, long time.

Your average Impite has crawled out of the woodwork and gone a bit giddy. They have just one question: how high are the clouds?

Lincoln launch themselves back into the League in exactly the opposite way to Town, retaining the core of the promotion team and adding known quantities from Peterborough. At least they know what they'll see from their own team, and are therefore so excited they just can't hide it. They'll learn, especially if the Cowleys are nabbed away before Christmas. It may be a cold, cold Christmas without you Danny.

'Tis a sad thing, but as we sit here today those Lincolnites look far too strong to limp back to where they once belonged. Unless of course their roadrunners run away. Let's hope Nathan catches a little Grimsbyitis again; some thoughts are just too painful to think.

Where are you from?

Now, who didn't get at least one Chad Varah toy in their Christmas stocking?

Oh come on, of course you know things about the historic city of historical Lincoln. We all went on the same school trips to the castle and cathedral (and, unfathomably, the Lincolnshire Show, where we could sit in combine harvesters for free). Romans and all that. Big church, once tallest in the world, then the spires fell off in the wind. The Lincoln Handicap was raced at Lincoln racecourse until it wasn't. And now the racecourse is a Sunday market. They made the first tank in the world, and with Matt Rhead still there they have the last remaining tank in the world of professional football.

Huh, typical Lincoln. On the basis of the patently corrupt list of British bishops who attended the Council of Arles in AD 314, Lincoln was the capital of the province of Flavia Caesariensis. We'd call that the midlands. By the close of the fifth century the city was largely deserted, much like their stands will be about five games after the Cowleys scarper.

What a gay old time they had in the middle ages. Fires, earthquakes, the Magna Carta, and the infamous 'Libel of Lincoln'. They don't boast about that in their tourist guides.

Lincoln couldn't decide whether it was Royalist or Roundhead in the civil war, which is reflected in its present political state as a yo-yo constituency. At least last month they yanked the chain on yobby, gobby Mr Blobby, Karl McCartney, and flushed him down the toilet. By the 18th century travellers often commented on the state of what had essentially become a one-street town. Resurrected by the arrival of the railway and light engineering, Lincoln's latest renaissance rests upon the university and the regeneration of Brayford Pool where young people and drifting drunkards linger longer agog at the architecture of the local Nando's.

The oldest surviving secular drama in English, The Interlude of the Student and the Girl (c. 1300), is believed to have originated from Lincoln. And is still on at the Theatre Royal. No wonder it keeps closing down.

That famous folk thing? They claim John Hurt too. Well, they can keep that rancid old snob: very Uphill Lincoln if you ask me. As is Neville Marriner. Huh, even their famous folk are aping us, even if they mis-spellify. Georgie, Georgie, they call him the Lincoln boy. True or false?

True. At the very heart of all digital electronics is Boolean logic, an algebraic construct where all values are reduced to either true or false. Good old Georgie Boole. If it weren't for him you'd be reading this on ink and paper in Sing When We're Fishing.

Just 'cos we had Janice Long's auntie living in Ladysmith Road, so Lincolnites are obsessed with proving Sharon off of Eastenders' mum and dad live somewhere off the Skelly Road. And I've been tossing and turning whether to mention The Ivy League and The Casuals, when Lincoln swung its musical pants in the sixties. Tossing and turning, it's the Lincoln way.

The story of Lincoln the city is a rollercoaster of magnificence, then long periods of terrible decline. Fleur-de-lys and all that: Lincoln confidential, whatever you desire.

You must be so… embarrassed

They don't actually like football, only the idea of football.

The womenfolk of Lincoln have created their own little supporters' club, the Lady Imps, or Limps for short. We may laugh, and indeed we shall gently mock this self-ghettoising retreat into the dim past of gender segregation. Town have supporters, Lincoln have groups of people who huddle together near a football pitch. Oh look, there's the Bald and Lonely Imps for the middle-aged man not about town; and hey, that's them in the corner, the Cultural Hipster Imps for those skinny young things about town in skinny jeans sipping skinny lattes through their skinny beards.

Women Imps would be bad, but Lady Imps? The iron rule of life is that is if you can hear Alan Partridge saying something then avoid calling yourself that thing. Football fans are football fans. Gender is irrelevant.

We may have to reconsider what embarrassment is if Southend don't hurry up and nab the Cowleys. C'mon Shrimpers, do your duty. Soon, like now.

The front page image is © copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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