As you know, I’ve been banging on about Alex breaking 100 appearances this week. Yesterday, I took a look at five Imps who had, rather surprisingly, played less games for Lincoln than Alex Woodyard.
Today I’ve looked at Imps who played more games than Alex Woodyard. Now, this isn’t a list of our best players or a trip down memory lane that is meant to invoke memories that are too fond. No, this is a list of players that I was surprised to see play more times for Lincoln. It could point to why we’ve not been that successful at certain points in history.
Paul Miller (131)
Experienced midfielder signed by John Beck, which in itself is unusual as Beck didn’t really bother with a midfield usually. He was a member of the side that earned promotion to the third-tier and, although he threatened quality, he never really hit his potential in red and white.
Once the chips were down and we slipped back in the basement league Miller often went missing when the need for real fight emerged. He wasn’t the worst player from that time by any means, but he was one of a long line who simply didn’t contribute regularly enough. Deranged Ferret once described Miller as “Always has his moments and even weighs in with some goals. The trouble is he doesn’t have the spirit for the third division.”
Tony Battersby (147)
Yeah, you read it right. 147 appearances, 108 starts and just 26 goals. At first he seemed an inspired signing though, a big name and a big fee of £75k indicated an exciting arrival. Tony Battersby (pictured top) definitely had ability and was prone to the odd moment of absolute genius. Those moments were rare, and the longer he stayed the rarer they became. His goals weren’t enough to keep us in the third tier, but he did seem to have enough in his locker to help us get promoted back up.
He didn’t, and as his Imps career bumbled along it became clear he was in decline from the moment he signed for the club. He weighed in with a goal here and another one there but he never made a significant enough impact to be anything other than a squad player. Towards the end of his time with Lincoln he looked unfit and short on motivation and it wasn’t a surprise when his contract was terminated in October 2002.
Darren Davis (124)
Davis was a tall and versatile defender who somehow made over 100 appearances for City in the late 1980’s before a move to Maidstone. He returned for a brief spell in 1996 after playing for Grantham Town. Unfortunately for Davis it wasn’t a successful spell coming amidst the turmoil of managerial upheaval. He featured on the losing side three times against Rochdale (1-2), Cambridge (1-3) and Plymouth (0-3) before sloping off back into the non-league scene.
He came is as a Steve Wicks man, but as soon as John Beck arrived he was told to pack his bags. In an interview with Dom Picksley last year he claimed: “I turned up for training on the Monday morning and he went ‘there’s no point in you coming in, you’re a Steve Wicks man, I don’t want you so off you go.” That was it, as quick as that. I never even had one training session with him. I didn’t particularly like him and didn’t wish him well.”
Colin Alcide (141)
Colin wasn’t a bad player, he was uncomplicated and had a certain level he could reach. Somehow, he still made 141 appearances, scoring 31 goals. It is worth noting, that is a far better ratio than Battersby, although perhaps him being a big lump and having the ball aimed at his head helped.
He missed just four games of the 1996-97 season and was occasionally amongst the goals, most notably on the score sheet in a 4-1 demolition of Manchester City in the Coca Cola Cup. He saw promotion the season after with Lincoln and played half a season in the third tier before John Reames took over from Shane Westley. Alcide was the subject of bids from Plymouth Argyle and Colchester Utd in January 1999, and both bids were accepted by manager John Reames. An agents representative then got involved and demanded a percentage of the sale to force the moves through. Both collapsed.
As Lincoln tried to play a bit more football he was loaned out to fourth tier side Hull in February 1999. He returned for one game, a 1-0 defeat by Fulham before his move to Hull was made permanent.
Matt Bloomer (105)
Matt Bloomer was a versatile defender who operated primarily as a right back. Alan Buckley first brought him in on loan towards the end of the 2001/02 season. He played in the penultimate game of the campaign in the 1-1 draw with Rochdale that was preceded by a fans march around Lincoln. In January of 2003 Keith Alexander brought him back to the club from non-league exile with Telford. He came to act as cover for his back five and with his versatility he was able to do that comfortably. He was in and out of the team as suspensions and injuries affected the other players, but he struggled to force himself into the first team on a consistent basis.
He had an absolute stinker in March 2005 against Nathan Tyson and Wycombe, coming off after 48 minutes having been directly at fault for two of Tyson’s three goals. He’d started that game at centre half covering for the injured captain Paul Morgan. He dropped to the bench for the remainder of the season, appearing as a 94th minute substitute in the play-off final against Southend. As a striker. We didn’t score and went on to lose 2-0. That all-but ended his Imps career, but he’s still in football, playing for Cleethorpes Town.