It’s always there, lurking away on our backs. Lincoln City have never played at Wembley, not once in our proud 133 year history. Should we get back into the Football League, we will be one of just four teams amongst their members never to have played at the home of football.
Of course had the new Wembley not been under construction in 2003 and 2005 we would have played there twice, instead we graciously accepted the hospitality of Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. There’s no doubt the home of Welsh rugby is a wonderful place to play, but it isn’t the home of English football. Nothing can compare to a trip to our national stadium (so I’m told). Nothing quite has that magic and allure as a domestic cup final.
Only Hartlepool, Crawley and Accrington Stanley can also claim never to have played there, with Walsall finally shaking their hoodoo last season with a Johnstone Paint Trophy appearance last season. Not one of those teams are proud of the monkey on their backs, and neither are we. It galls me even more that the Cods seem to have made the great stadium their ‘home from home’ in recent seasons, they don’t even need a sat-nav to get their anymore.
Tonight we start 180 minutes of football that could finally see us shake a this unwanted record as we travel to York for the first leg of our FA Trophy semi-final. The glitz and glamour of the Emirates has long gone, but looking forward we have a chance to perform on an even bigger stage in a competition we could actual win. The sideshow is over, now onto the main event.
9,000 people travelled to watch Arsenal play Lincoln, but tonight around 2,000 are travelling to watch Lincoln irrespective of who the opposition are. It doesn’t matter that it is York, it could have been Boreham Wood, Nantwich, anyone at all. Tonight the attraction isn’t the opponents, but the chance to set up yet another iconic moment in Imps history. After being the first Lincoln team to ever qualify for the last eight of the FA Cup, they now want to be the first Lincoln City side to ever appear at Wembley. If the FA Cup quarter finals seemed unlikely, an FA Trophy final seems almost within touching distance.
I waxed lyrical about York’s potential for survival in the National League a few weeks ago, then I saw them play. They’re brutish and organised, but they didn’t demonstrate anything that convinces me they’ll pose too much of a threat. In a single 90 minute winner-takes-all match they could spring a surprise, but over 180 minutes with the final 90 in front of 8,000 at Sincil Bank I think they have their work cut out. DC can draw from two full sets of 11 players tonight and Saturday, and not one of them is a weak link. The Lincoln Lizards haven’t disappointed in the trophy this season, and I can’t see that starting tonight.
The important thing is to come away at least on level terms tonight, and when you consider this Lincoln team has lost three times since September I think that is highly likely. One of those defeats may have come on Saturday against Arsenal, but I don’t think that will knock confidence. I doubt many of the starting eleven from Saturday will start tonight, and that means a run out for Luke Angol, Josh Ginnelly, Joe Ward and Billy Knott. There are four players that have no right to be in the National League, they shouldn’t even be competing in the FA Trophy. These are Football League players in a team I believe are bound for Wembley. They missed out on starting in the headline match, but they can stil, eb a part of Imps history.
I’ll be there tonight, just as excited as I was on Saturday. Against Arsenal we knew we were making history no matter what the score, but there was no trophy at the end of it. There were headlines, but no honours and no silverware to parade around the centre of Lincoln. Tonight we to take a major step towards addressing that by placing one foot in our first Wembley final ever. If you thought watching Lincoln run out at the Emirates was thrilling, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
We’re the famous Lincoln City and (hopefully) we’re (finally) going to Wembley.