It’s been the closest vote yet, but tonight is the time to announce the winner of the centre back pairing you’ve chosen to represent the Stacey west in our reader Classic XI.
One thing we do have a long tradition of is having top quality centre halves. even during the doldrum years, names such as Steve Holmes conjure up positive memories. perhaps even in a bad side, a centre half needs to stand out, maybe he just gets more chances. If that were the case, I’m sure Josh Gowling would have made the final six!
In the end I’ve paired up the final six into three pairings. The first two just miss out, the second two form part of our Classic B team and finally we have the winners. Hopefully, there will be little to disagree with when you see the top two.
I didn’t have Luke Waterfall in the voting by the way, but I wanted to use Graham Burrell’s picture of him from Wembley as the header picture. Why? Because he’s lifted two trophies in eleven months and as far as I’m concerned, he’ll be remembered as fondly as all the players on the list in the distant future.
Without further ado, let’s press on with the pairing that just missed out:
Kevin Austin (32 votes) and Grant Brown (32 votes)
On 30th November 1996, this pairing played for City away at Colchester, a game in which Lincoln lost 7-1. I’d imagine few would have picked them as a legendary centre back pairing that evening, but your votes have them as the third best tandem to grace the pitch for City in your time.
The truth is very different to that one game. Grant Brown is, of course, a legend, a man who appeared more times for City than any other player ever has or dare I say, ever will. He always served the Imps with diligence, commitment and passion. He didn’t earn the nickname ‘Hoof’ for no reason, he was an uncomplicated centre half who headed it away, kicked it away and kept his nose clean.
His partner in the vote is Kevin Austin, the player who joined City from Leyton Orient as part of a ‘buy me a player’ campaign by John beck. Back then, we still trusted the slippery cockney and we backed him with our shrapnel. He turned that into a left-sided centre back of immense quality, a fine physical specimen built more like a boxer than a footballer. He was strong, powerful and destined for the very top.
The injury suffered just after his move to Barnsley curtailed his promised, even though he went on to play lots of lower league football he never reached the heights his Imps spell threatened. n his day, Kevin Austin really was one of the best we have ever had. If he hadn’t got injured playing against us the following season, I have no doubt he would have ended up playing for someone like Stoke or Leicester in the top flight and we’d remember him as fondly as the winning pair. Fate had a different course plotted for Austin though.