Regular readers may be aware but this weekend I had the extreme pleasure of spending an evening in the company of Danny and Nicky Cowley at a dinner hosted by John and Lisa Dexter. It was a reward for a crowd funder contribution and it was a night of the very highest quality.
Danny asked the assembled diners to go through our all-time top Lincoln City XI, and I think we got as far as goal keeper before there was disagreement. As we had all witnessed different eras it was hard to get any semblance of agreement amongst us. I never saw Peter Grotier play so there I couldn’t really nominate him.
For what it is worth I have decided to run down my all-time Imps best XI, starting in the 1987/88 GMVC season which was my first as a fan. Anybody before that is not eligible, so please nobody start shouting at me because they think I should have included John Ward!
I’m going to line up in a traditional 4-4-2
Only one choice as far as I’m concerned, Alan Marriott. I have seen some good goalkeepers in my time alone, starting with Nigel Batch and moving on through Mark Wallington, Ian Bowling and even our current keeper Paul Farman. However Alan Marriott edges it because as a relatively small goal keeper he more than earned a place in the squad with eight or nine years of good, solid performances. It was a travesty the way Peter Jackson let him go.
At Right Back….
Again only really one choice for me, the enigma that was Mark Bailey. Bails had an engine that would just run and run, he could deliver a wicked ball and he was capable of scoring the odd goal, not least one from his own half against Carlisle. He played through administration and out the other side and never once let Lincoln City down. Paul Casey and Paul Smith ran him close though.
At left back….
My first change from the chat with the guys on Saturday. I had initially gone for Stuart Bimson, but I think perhaps my judgement was clouded by our fond recollections of that glorious side Keith moulded. The player whom I remember impressing me most at left back was the guy I’m going for, Kevin Austin. Ian Baraclough would have been there or thereabouts as well.
At Centre Half….
We’ve had so many good centre halves in my time it feels almost crass to have to leave some of them out. Amongst those I can’t include (but would like to) are Jamie McCombe, Grant Brown, Dean Walling and Trevor Matthewson. It actually breaks my heart not to include Matthewson who was a colossus the year we won the Conference, but once again I’m dipping into the team that Keith built. My centre half pairing are Northern Ireland’s Bobby Moore, Paul Morgan and of course his countryman and current Premier League star Gareth McAuley.
On the right of midfield…..
Gareth Ainsworth. Next.
On the left of midfield…..
Peter Gain. Next.
In the centre of the park….
Very, very tough area of the field to select two players for. John Finnigan only just misses out, and if Dean Keates had stayed much loner there’s little doubt he would have ranked up there as well. I was tempted to go with home-grown Lee Frecklington as well, but ultimately I’m going to span two different eras to bring together two players who never have, no sadly never will share a pitch.
First up it is Richard Butcher. I’m not sure I need to explain this particular choice, he’s a City legend and showed that by returning to the club not once but twice. Forever a player I will admire and that was absolutely the case before his tragic death far too young.
Alongside him in midfield is a cult hero and a right character to boot, Graham Bressington. To say Bressington was hard would be an understatement, and although he was perhaps a bit part player in the GMVC title win he went on to epitomise everything a fan wants in someone who pulls on the red and white. Once remarked to me at a sportsman dinner that he would ‘sell his gran for a win on the pitch’. He was fortunate we didn’t win that many games once we came up, otherwise he’d need to get a few more grannies. If yours is missing, maybe Bressy sold her?
and finally up front….
Impossible to select two players without causing debate and anger, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m not even going to rattle off who it could have been, I’m literally just going to land you with two names.
Simon Yeo took a while to get going, but once he had he couldn’t stop scoring. His goals from the bench fired us to the play-offs in 2003, and by the time Cardiff 2005 arrived I was surprised if any other player got a look in on the score sheet. Quick, energetic and occasionally a little too committed for the referees of the day, Yeo will always be a club legend, and turning up at the Bank to watch us even today will cement his hero status for years to come.
Jamie Forrester came to City at what seemed to be the tail end of his career, but for a season or so he proved that what he lacked in pace he made up for in footballing talent. Maybe I just pick players who scored a couple of goals against Grimsby, or maybe the hat trick away at Mansfield has clouded my vision. I’m not sure that Yeo and Forrester would give us enough height from set pieces, but for out and out goal scoring prowess I can think of few others who could match these two.
On the bench
Obviously I’d have Keith Alexander managing the team, alongside him would be the best ‘assistant’ I think anyone had, and that’s Neil McDonald who was the only man to make Jacko’s promises look like becoming reality. Player wise? Well I’m going for one from each position so you’ve got Paul Smith (the ginger one), Trevor Matthewson, Stuart Bimson, David Puttnam, John Finnigan, Gary Taylor-Fletcher (who we’ll stick out wide for the purpose of this blog) and Tony Lormor. Oh, and Gordon Hobson. Can I have eight subs? Yeah, I can. It’s my blog.
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