Tomorrow will see Walsall visit Sincil Bank for the testimonial match of defender Lee Beevers. It will be an emotionally charged affair for Lee who suffered that awful injury last season, and it is the perfect chance for Imps fans to say thank you to a great servant of Lincoln City.
Lee has made 229 starts for City, appearing a further 16 times as a sub in competitive matches. Over the years he has proven himself to be a committed and consistent player. He first caught the eye whilst playing for county rivals Boston United. He arrived there after starting out at Ipswich as a youth player, but it was at York Street where he got his break, his first consistent run of starts. His impressive performances convinced a promotion-chasing Keith Alexander to spend an ‘undisclosed amount’ to bring him to Sincil Bank, something of a coup at the time. Over the years Lincoln have often underlined county superiority by cherry-picking Boston’s players, and Lee (along with Paul Casey and Dany N’Guessan) was a classic example of this. Although primarily a right back Lee found himself employed all across the defence, regularly appearing in the left back position. He remained at Lincoln after Keith left, through the highs and lows of John Schofield’s brief reign and into that of Peter Jackson. He perhaps played his very best football under Jackson, a consistent and experienced head in a team that was slowly falling apart at the seams.
It was only a matter of time before he rolled the dice and tried to step up a level. He opted to sign for League One Colchester, which represented a climb up the football ladder for him. His spell at Layer Road was injury-hit, a damaged shoulder ruled him out soon after joining and he made just 23 appearances for Colchester before he moved on to tomorrow’s opponents, Walsall. He appeared 35 times at the Bescot before moving on to Mansfield Town, where in three years he helped them to the Conference title and an FA Cup tie with Liverpool, at Lincoln’s expense.
Following his release by the Stags in May of 2015 Lee signed a 2-year deal with City. He dropped in at left-back during the difficult 2015/16 campaign and although he performed adequately, it did look like his last season at National League level.
The arrival of Danny and Nicky Cowley changed all that, and at the start of the 2016/17 season he began to show the sort of form he had exhibited the very first time he played for Lincoln. He slotted in at his preferred right back and was a revelation, prompting many fans to favour keeping Player of the Year Bradley Wood in midfield to allow Beevers a run in the team. Indeed, when he was dropped and Tom Champion came into the side, the Imps went on a losing run. When Lee was restored to the team we went on yet another unbeaten run.
As we now know Lee suffered a ruptured patella tendon during our home win against Boreham Wood in October 2016, an injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the season. He remained a popular figure around the ground as he recovered slowly, and he looked to forge a new career in punditry with a series of TV appearances during our cup run.
Tomorrow is the perfect chance for fans young and old to say thank you to a superb servant of our football club, a family-orientated man now looking to his future outside the game. I hope for a big crowd and a massive send off for Lee, and of course we hope to see him one last time in the red and white of Lincoln City.
Personally I can’t be there, I’m truly gutted I can’t thank a man who has served my football club so well. Hopefully I can say it with this small article, and maybe buying him a beer if I ever bump into him again. Thanks Lee.
The following passage was taken from my book, Who’s who of Lincoln City 1993-2016, and was written by football commentator and Imps fan Oscar Chamberlain. It sums up Lee Beevers the person far more succinctly than one of my own stories.
“When I started my Sports Journalism degree back in 2008, one of the first assignments given to me was to interview a professional athlete. It was quite a daunting task because I had never done anything like that before and I didn’t know any professional athletes or how to go about contacting them.
After a few failed attempts to find a suitable interviewee, a friend of mine offered to contact Lee Beevers and ask him if he’d be willing to help. Much to my surprise, Lee called me the next day and we arranged to meet at Sincil Bank later that week so that I could speak to him.
I remember being extremely concerned about asking the wrong question or making a fool of myself. After all, this was a professional footballer who had been interviewed by ‘real’ journalists and now he was speaking to a clueless student who was struggling to get his Dictaphone to work properly.
I needn’t have worried. Lee wasn’t at all bothered by the fact that I wasn’t a proper journalist and he was happy to talk about his career to date, his ambitions for the future and Lincoln City in general.
It was a genuine pleasure speaking to him and he certainly compares favourably to some of the footballers I have spoken to since. He was easy-going, humble and seemed to be genuinely interested in the course I was doing and my ambition to work as a commentator.
When I left he said that he’d been impressed by the way I’d conducted the interview (I’m sure he wasn’t, but it was a nice thing for him to say!), wished me luck for the future and even offered to give me a lift back to the University.
I spent no more than 30-40 minutes with him and he probably never gave it another thought but as far as I was concerned it was the start of my career in the media, even if it was just a bit of course work.
I’ll always be grateful to Lee for taking the time to speak to me when he didn’t have to. It says a lot about the kind of person he is and I imagine that he is a great influence on the younger players now that he is back at the club again.
He is probably one of the more versatile players that I’ve seen at Sincil Bank since I started watching the Imps in 2002. Capable of playing across the back four, he was named ‘player of the season’ playing predominantly at right-back in 2007 and was described as the ‘best left-back in League Two’ by Peter Jackson a little over a year later. John Ward even used him as a holding midfielder during his spell at Colchester in 2010 while Danny Cowley called him ‘irreplaceable’ and compared him to an iPhone 6.
He’s played in League One for Colchester and Walsall and at international level for the Welsh U21s but I believe he could have achieved even more had he not suffered big injuries at crucial times in his career. It is a real shame that he may miss the rest of the current campaign because he deserves the chance to be part of a successful Lincoln side after so many years of great service.”