It’s finally here

Finally, after a couple of weeks trying to pretend that the cup was ‘just another match’, one of the best chances of showing the world of football we’re on our way back is happening tonight. Former Premier League side Oldham come to Sincil Bank for only their second competitive visit in 40 years.

A win for City in front of the BT Sports viewers will demonstrate just how far we’ve come recently, and a defeat will only serve to show us how much further we need to go. The money for simply being here is in the bank, and anything we earn over and above is to be used to strengthen our title challenge. Tonight is all about getting out there and seeing exactly where we are.

Oldham are relatively illustrious opponents for this stage of the competition. They may be 23rd in League One, but they were founder members of the Premier League and although they’re no Arsenal or Man Utd, but they are a potential second tier team punching well below their weight at present.

They’ve only visited Sincil Bank once in my lifetime, running out comfortable 3-1 winners during our spell in the third tier. To find a Lincoln victory in our history you have to go back as far as March 13th 1971 when Derek Trevis and James Fletcher gave us a 2-1 win. We had a right back by the name of Graham Taylor playing that day, and we only won one of the following 12 matches! Oldham were promoted, we finished fourth from bottom and our paths weren’t to cross again for many years.

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Imps 1970-71. The last Lincoln side to beat Oldham Athletic

 

In the days of the old Division Three (North) we met a few times, but it’s fair to say our record against the Latics is not good at all. In 37 games we have won just nine and drawn five, with Oldham taking 23 wins. In 1936 they did come along to the Bank for an FA Cup match,  It was in the second round and they ran out 3-2 winners, a brace from Bernard Towler giving us hope in front of 7403 fans. Towler was something of a Matt Rhead figure with his goal scoring record, he broke into the side late but ended up scoring 71 goals in 88 matches for City.

So history is against us, but what matters in 2016 and not the preceding 110 years. The Oldham team that visit us tonight are low on confidence and we (it’s fair to say) are riding the crest of a wave. Our run will end sometime and the league should always be the focus, but a tasty little third round tie against someone like Man Utd would give us a massive boost financially and continue to raise our profile. Tonight is about demonstrating our potential and our pride, but in the immediate aftermath of the third round draw it could become so much more.

It might be interesting to the stattos amongst you to know that Jonny Margetts made his only League appearance so far for Scunthorpe against Oldham on November 19th. It might not of course.

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The Imps side of 1936/37 that lost in the FA Cup 2nd round to Oldham by 3 goals to 2

 

Since winning in the first round of the cup Oldham have been on an indifferent run, drawing three and losing once, against Scunthorpe. They’re not proving easy to beat, but they’re a long way from demonstrating a solid ability to win as well. In truth if I were not a Lincoln fan and I was looking at this game I would place my house on a Lincoln win. I won’t be so confident sat in the stands as a fan though, I never am!

The importance of the game will certainly alter once the draw is made. Both sides would want a top side to visit them in the next round, and playing after the draw means we’ll know exactly what is at stake. The last time this happened we went to Mansfield Town knowing a win would see us play Liverpool, and lost. I remember going away to Emley knowing a win would see us play West Ham in the next round. We lost that as well.

The only two ‘big’ clubs we’ve had in FA Cup action in recent years were Sunderland at home in 1998 and Bolton away in 2010. That Sunderland game attracted the biggest official crowd I’ve ever witnessed at Sincil Bank, 10408. Sunderland were only a Championship side at the time, proving that should we draw Newcastle, Villa or even Leeds that it can be classed as a ‘big draw’. We matched Sunderland that day, losing just 1-0 and I’d love to see a team like Danny Cowley’s get a crack at a big side in front of a packed Sincil Bank.

So that’s enough from me. I’m basically sat in my kitchen trying to kill a few minutes at a time ahead of getting in my car and driving into Lincoln. I’m excited, I truly believe we can win the game, and I can’t wait to watch the draw beforehand and learn exactly what else is at stake. I keep saying it, but it’s a great time to be a Lincoln fan. Win, lose or draw tonight that will not change.

Whatever happens, just having the belief we can beat a League One club and progress shows that all the hard work of the last eighteen months at the club is finally paying dividends. Long may it continue.

Don’t forget there’s a book out that would make a great Christmas present to anyone who supports Lincoln City. It’s earning rave reviews (well, two) on Amazon. It’s called ‘Who’s who of Lincoln City 1993-2016’: and there are more than one ways to buy it.

If you want to buy direct from Amazon then click here

If you would like to order a signed copy to collect from me at the game I predict as a draw on December 17th against Tranmere then please send £13.99 (and who to sign it to) via PayPal to gazhutch78@gmail.com or by clicking here

 If you’d like me sign a copy and post it out then please send £17.99 to cover P&P via PayPal to gazhutch78@gmail.com, or by clicking here Don’t forget to include your address and who to post it to

Please note although Amazon offer ‘Prime’ delivery to buyers, they don’t offer it to me on wholesale copies so any books ordered through me will be posted out first class week commencing 12th December.