A debut to remember

City’s debutant striker Dayle Southwell has taken just eight minutes to open his Lincoln City account. Imps fans will look forward to seeing him in further action for us, but 28 years ago to the day another debutant also had a goal scoring first outing.

On February 4th 1989 City were due to play Cambridge United in league action. The U’s were 10th, City 11th and both teams still harboured hopes of a play off spot. City had a plethora of forward players to choose from, GMVC heroes McGinley and Phil Brown were still around the side, as was record signing Paul Smith. Gordon Hobson was still on the Imps books too, as well as Mark Sertori. A new face seemed unlikely, and even if one was imminent the fans would be none the wiser.

As The Imps came out there was an unfamiliar face in the City line up. At 6’5 Malcolm Dunkley wasn’t inconspicuous, and as a youngster I remember my Dad asking me ‘who the flip is that?’ Even as a 10 year old I was already becoming more of an authority on the Imps as my old man!! This was the days before the internet, so I confess I didn’t know who he was either. If only we’d had Wikipedia in 1989!


Malcolm Dunkley had been signed from Finnish side Rovaniemen Palloseura at the end of the Scandavian country’s domestic season, and he went straight into the side with Bob Cumming dropped. He looked unorthodox, perhaps one might describe him as clumsy. Those that did (my Dad)  were soon eating their words: Dunkley had a stormer.

He opened the scoring with a superb twenty yard strike that made every one of the 3239 fans sit up and take note. Future Imps keeper John Vaughn was left grasping thin air (something we found he was good at in later life) and the ball nestled in the net right in front of me in the Railway End. I’ll never forget the look of bewilderment on Vaughn’s face.

Not long after Dunkley added a second via a header, giving the Imps an unassailable two goal lead. Gordon Hobson seized on a weak back pass to round the hapless keeper for a third, and gave City a comprehensive win.

The win meant City swapped places with Cambridge, and Dunkley was back on the score sheet again a week later as we got beat 3-2 at Hereford. Gordon Hobson added one that day too, and the pair looked to be forging a meaningful partnership up top.

John Vaughn looks astonished as City go 1-0 up.


Dunkley only scored once more for The Imps in a 2-1 defeat at Darlington. His early promise faded as he began to look out of place in an ambitious Imps side. Paul Smith returned from injury, Hobson was almost always the first name on the team sheet, and both Brown and McGinley knocked Big Malcolm down the pecking order.

He played his last game for City as we lost at Grimsby Town on March 27th. He’d been an Imps player for two months, but hadn’t managed to reach the heights of his first 90 minutes. He returned to Finland where he averaged a goal every five games.

Unfortunately Malcolm Dunkley passed away at the age of 44 from a heart attack, but he’ll always be fondly remembered for that awesome debut when he appeared from nowhere to score twice for City.

Dunkley in action as we draw 1-1 with Scarborough