A great side has to actually achieve something to be called great. You may have a team packed with wonderful ability, but in order to receive recognition from fans as a great side you need something to show for it. The level of success really depends on the club as well, so for instance a great Chelsea side may win the Champions League but if they qualified for the League Two play offs then the side couldn’t be considered as great. However for a success starved team like Lincoln City I think an appearance at a National Stadium qualifies that team to be classed as great.
That’s why I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss the last great Lincoln City side, that of Keith Alexander’s Play Off Finalists in 2005. Arguably the culmination of the hard work that Keith had put in, this season more than any represented a real chance to progress to League One, and to do so with the best Lincoln City squad for over two decades.
I’m not going to talk you through the season, I’m merely going to tell you why I believe this team was a truly magnificent Lincoln City side. I’d like to draw your attention to a particular date, Monday 28th March 2005, almost 11 years ago.
That damp evening we took on our near rivals Scunthorpe United live on Sky Sports. We took The Iron apart with an exquisite opener inside thirty seconds and then we put it to bed ten minutes before the end with a sublime chip that Eric Cantona would have been proud of. There’s no surprise we did though, because the starting eleven was one to really fear.
In the sticks that night was Alan Marriott, as he was for most of the years we competed in League Two’s upper echelons. He was a great servant to the club and despite being small he was also a very good goalkeeper. He first earned the song of England’s Number One from the Stacey West end and he really deserved to pick up the League Two Keeper of the Year award at least twice in his Imps career.
The defence was so ridiculously strong it beggars belief. That’s not to say we didn’t concede goals, but looking at the names on paper that started that evening you’ll find a who’s who of good quality defenders. Kevin Sandwith is perhaps one that won’t stand out, but he was a competent full back with a great free kick in his repertoire. His team mates that day however were of a very high calibre: Jamie McCombe, Gareth McCauley, Ben Futcher and Paul Morgan.