Writing about the crap players we’ve had since we’ve been relegated really drained my positivity yesterday, so for a Monday morning treat I have had a look at what I consider to be the best XI players that have represented us in the National League, but are no longer playing for Lincoln.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, we have had some good players pass through as we’ve struggled through nigh on six years in non-league. Here is my top eleven that are no longer with City.
GK – Nick Townsend
The goal keeper spot is a real bone of contention, some felt that perhaps Townsend should have made my worst team, and yet here he is in my ‘best of’ side. He didn’t cover himself with glory the second time he came to the club, but his first spell did see him make some great saves. History will show Nick Townsend as a player who spent two spells on loan with City and failed to dislodge club legend Paul Farman twice. Reality shows him as a great character, a player happy to be seen in the crowd. Currently warming the bench at Barnsley.
DF – Tom Miller
One of our biggest success stories since we’ve been down, Tom Miller was an incredibly good footballer who has gone on to prove that in the Football League. Initially he seemed to be here purely for his giant throw in, but as the seasons knocked on he proved himself to be a superb defender and a real talent. Tom Miller is one of the few players I’ll be mentioning here that would even get a space in a Danny Cowley squad. He made around 120 appearances for City, and has gone on to play over 80 times for Carlisle.
DF- Andrew Boyce
Andrew Boyce was, at the time, a poor man’s Jamie McCombe. He hasn’t made himself a popular figure at Sincil Bank by subsequently playing for Scunthorpe and Grimsby but I remember the elation when he signed a fresh deal in the summer of 2013. His form earned him a Football League move, and although it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Boyce, he has recently got back into the Grimsby team. He wouldn’t displace Raggett or Waterfall and probably not Callum Howe either, but he is an able centre back nonetheless.
DF – Richard Hinds
This might seem like a strange pick, Hinds only started nine games for City, but his influence was immeasurable. He came at a time when our defence looked awful, but he helped steady the ship and guided us to crucial wins over Barrow, Ebbsfleet and Forest Green. His presence helped a relatively poor Lincoln team grab a few points, and had he stayed longer than couple of months I think he would have been a big asset. He signed from Sheffield Wednesday, but his form earned him a move to League One Yeovil where he played 40 times over the next season and a half. Clearly shouldn’t have been in the National League at that stage of his career.
DF- Sean Newton
Sean Newton may be remembered as having a bad attitude, but there’s no denying he is a decent footballer. His defensive capabilities might be limited, but as an attacking full-back he is second to none. His delivery with his left foot was as succinct and devastating as any player I’ve ever seen in a Lincoln shirt, and when he was focused and on his game he was a cut above your average non-league full back. His tantrums, his engineered move to Notts County and his niggling personality have meant he won’t be remembered fondly by Imps fans, and that is a shame because when he wanted to be he was a really good footballer.
MF – Jon Nolan
I may as well get the pair of them out of the way now, even though I’m writing about the best of the rest, it still pains me to write about either of these guys. Jon Nolan was another that had the wrong attitude, and at times didn’t look like he fancied being a footballer. He would disappear for weeks on end, he never liked a tackle and he was prone to reckless moments. If you put all of that aside though he was (and still is) a talented footballer with an awful lot to offer. He’s been a regular for Chesterfield in League One this season, and you don’t do that if you don’t have something about you. If both him and Newton had consistently performed at the top of their game I thin we could have escaped this league by now.
MF – Hamza Bencherif
I like Hamza a lot, and I think if York are to stay up this season it will be his input that will push them to it. In 2014/15 he was a real physical presence in the middle of the park, and he added balance and aggression to what should have been a competitive City side. Along with Newton, Nolan and Ben Tomlinson he should have been able to secure us a higher finish than we ended up with after Simpson was dismissed. Hamza netted six times for us including that memorable winner against Grimsby, and even now he is an asset to whichever National League team take him on.
MF – Harry Anderson
Bit of a cheat I know as he has only just left, but Harry Anderson has an insane amount of quality, and will without a doubt go on to play league football to a decent standard. He hasn’t been missed since he left due to a shrewd transfer policy on Danny’s part, and the form of Terry Hawkridge, but early season he did turn several games for us with his direct and aggressive running. He is in the Josh Ginnelly mould, the Joe Ward mould and the Nathan Arnold mould and these are players we haven’t seen the like of for a few seasons. It would have been remiss not to include Harry in the best of the rest, because he was a stand out performer.
MF – James Caton
Narrowly missed out on a contract in the summer, and that proves he has something about him. Caton was incredibly popular amongst Imps fans and displayed ability beyond what we have been used to. He was a firm favourite of mine, he had pace and could beat players, but also knew how to score a spectacular goal or two. He’s recently signed for Dover which shows he still has something to offer the clubs at the right end of the National League.
FW – Jamie Taylor
Jamie was woefully underused in an injury blighted first season, but David Holdsworth finally caught on to his ability in our second season in the Blue Square Premier. Jamie was incredibly skilful with a keen eye for goal, and had it not been for a desire to move down south I have no doubt he would have remained an Imp for longer. He really had no business being in the National League, when he was clear of injury he looked a cut above the journeymen forwards brought to the club. I liked Pacquette and Louis, but neither should have kept Jamie Taylor on the bench. Steve Tilson didn’t use him nearly enough and it cost him his job.
FW – Ben Tomlinson
I don’t care how much stick I take for this, Ben Tomlinson is a good footballer who hasn’t been coached correctly. His temper often let him down, but there’s no denying he could score goals. He was often found stuck out on the wing, or being urged to keep his aggressive edge, two things that helped spoil him for Lincoln City. He isn’t a Cowley type of player, but if he were I think he’d be a massive success working under coaches who could curb his aggression and deploy him through the centre where he was effective. I’ve heard rumours he was disruptive and uncontrollable at times, but I just think he was a good player who was poorly managed
Honourable mentions: Vadaine Oliver, John Nutter, Thierry Audel, Josh Gowling
Not-so Honourable Mention: Liam Hearn (a player who should and could have been in the first eleven here, a player with so much natural goal scoring talent that he could have fired us to a play-off spot. I rated Liam Hearn more than 95% of the strikers I’ve seen play for Lincoln, but again his head just wasn’t right).