Stacey West XI Wingers (1975/76 special)

Alan Harding

Harding operated on the opposite flank to Kryzwicki and was an incredibly skilful player who could play on the wing or in a less traditional left midfield role. He was one of Graham Taylor’s early signings and in terms of appearances and dedication, perhaps his finest.

He got his big break at Darlington after being spotted playing for non-league Spennymoor Town. After 37 goals in 129 League outings for the Quakers, Taylor decided to swoop. In March 1973, £7,000 and Frank McMahon tempted Darlington to part with Harding. McMahon left Feethams in July 1974, but Harding turned out to be a little more resilient.

He scored on his debut as City beat Chester at Sincil Bank, always a good start for a new face. Not long after he added a brace to John Ward’s hat trick as Stockport were beaten 5-3 in front of just 3562 fans. Like our recent success though, big crowds were coming and Harding would be happy to produce the goods in front of them.

1973/74 wasn’t a classic season, Harding settled into a fledgling side being put together by the young manager. He missed much of the campaign after picking up an injury against Rotherham and finished with just 24 outings and 6 goals to his name. By 1974/75, Taylor’s side was almost complete and again, Harding was a huge part of that. however, it was 1975/76 which helped write his name into Imps folklore, just like the other two wide players mentioned in this article.

36 outings and eight goals helped us towards the league title, but it was never just his goals. Freeman scored 23 in the league, Ward 24 and they were helped by the exciting wide players, Harding included. He did weigh in with a crucial strike or two, scoring a brace at home against Bradford and opening the scoring away at the Bantams as we won 5-1. He also scored as we beat Doncaster 5-0 to secure the title in front of 14,096, significantly more than when he opened his Imps account.

In all, Harding played for City for seven seasons, remaining after Taylor abandoned ship. He was a virtual ever-present in the 1976/77 Third Division campaign, but after the Imps were relegated from Division Three in 1979 he left. His final game at Sincil Bank was against Chesterfield, City lost 1-0 in front of 2991 fans. He left Lincoln with 227 starts under his belt, a further seven as substitute and with 43 goals to his name. He went back up north, joining Hartlepool United for a fee of £4,000.

6 Comments

  1. Yep Dave Smith and Roger Holmes, 2 great players. I believe Tottenham were after Holmes but he broke his leg.
    He turned up at the young supporters and i couldn’t believe he smoked. If only you could put all the past great players in one team.
    I loved Big Piercy Freeman and Dixie Mcneil, but Dave Smith takes my award. A fantastic player who could of played at a much higher level. I’m lucky to have seen him grace Sincil Bank many times

  2. All three of those wingers would be in my top ten footballers that have ever played in the red and white. I loved them all.

  3. Point of accuracy Mr Chairman – we missed promotion on goal average in 1974/75 not goal difference.

  4. Whizzer, the magnificent Harding (scorer of the best goal I’ve seen at SB) and the wonderful Dave Smith, at last. Wonder how many of those appearances were while on the transfer list, he was always agitating for a move before settling down under GT and becoming the greatest central midfielder I’ve seen play for City.

    George Shipley to follow? Sorry Sir Gareth, you may not make the last 4.

    Hobbo? Stunning arrival as a winger, but best years as a striker in those lethal partnerships with Harford and Bell (Derek, not the god botherer!)

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