Stacey West XI Wingers – Part one

There’s no voting yet and please, don’t message me if your nomination isn’t on here. Like last time, I’m going to take three or four at a time before we go to a vote.

For those new to the site, we’ve been voting on the best players readers have seen play for Lincoln. We’ve got quite an eclectic mix of players, from Phil Neale to Peter Gain, Glenn Cockerill to Neal Eardley, but now we’re looking at wingers.

There’s no left and right here either, wingers have skills both cutting in and hugging the touchline so this is simply  look at a collection of wingers you’ve nominated for the final vote. We’ll be going for the vote towards the weekend, but first a look at some of the candidates.

Gareth Ainsworth

He’s bound to be one of the top candidates, he was always going to feature heavily on this vote and I suspect he’ll be one of the four that makes either the main side or our Stacey West reserve XI. He’s just guided Wycombe to League One by playing stifling, ugly football, but in just under 100 appearances for City, he was anything but ugly.

He averaged a goal every couple of games during his short tenure, but he was about so much more than scoring goals. He was one of the positive by-products of John Beck’s reign as manager and there’s much of the controversial coach in Ainsworth the manager. He had followed manager John Beck from Cambridge to Preston North End and again followed Beck to Sincil Bank for a fee of £25,000 in November of 1995.

He made his Imps debut in a 2-1 win at Mansfield and scored his first goals for the club a fortnight later in a 2-0 win at Torquay. He swiftly became a firm fan’s favourite due not only to his ability and commitment, but also his likeable personality off the field. He would ensure he always acknowledged the fans in an era where it wasn’t common place and he could be found playing pool for the Butcher and Beast on a Thursday night. He was like you and I, only much better at football. He was even a huge fan of Britpop, something that endeared him even more to kids of that generation, like me.

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He was ever present in the 1996-97 season during which the Imps missed out on the play-offs on the final day. A Coca Cola Cup run saw Ainsworth scoring at Premier League Southampton in the third round, and again in the home replay which the Saints won 3-1. His displays and regular goals were earning him a reputation and it was widely expected he would move on to bigger and better things in the summer of ’97.

Despite being a hero Ainsworth wanted to progress, and the more cynical fan noted that his move didn’t happen during the summer break, whilst season ticket sales might be affected. However a firm offer from Wigan Athletic ahead of the 1997/98 season indicated his Sincil Bank days were numbered. The first few games of the season Ainsworth was subject to some horrific tackling and often had two men marking him, putting the fear of god into John Reames. His precious commodity was being hacked in front of his very eyes and it couldn’t continue.

A few weeks in to the following season the inevitable happened. After signing off from Sincil Bank with a hat trick against Scarborough, he earned himself a £500,000 move to Port Vale with the Wigan offer rejected. After just 53 appearances for Vale, Premier League Wimbledon paid £2m for his services.

During his time at Lincoln, Ainsworth was twice voted as the Player of the Year and in 2007 was voted fourth in a poll to find the 100 greatest Imps players of all time. He’s up against some big hitters with hundreds of appearances to their name in this category, but he has to be a red-hot favourite.

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6 Comments

  1. Based on the few games Woodcock played for City he didn’t look as good as Alan Harding.

  2. Saving the best for later? Only Ainsworth in with a sniff from this lot and for us ‘more mature’ supporters who go back to the ’60s he’s in the reserves.

    Woodcock was a striker and played, what, 6 games max while on loan??!!

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