News that the Imps have made a club record offer for Barnet striker John Akinde has led to discussions about our previous record holders.
Whilst speculation rages on at the real cost of Michael Bostwick, the undisclosed fee is the bane of the football fan. If rumour is to be believed, Harry and Bozzie arrived for a combined fee that, if split down equally, did NOT match the current record of £75k shared between Tony Battersby (pictured top courtesy of Graham Burrell) and Dean Walling.
Whilst Tony Battersby is the current holder of the record transfer fee, or certainly the latest having arrived after Dean Walling, is he the true record holder? Considering inflation, who is actually the Imps’ record signing?
I’ve scoured our previous records and using the Bank of England inflation calculator, I’ve worked out what each of the previous holders might be worth in today’s market. The result is quite surprising, showing two strikers sharing the accolade.
The Imps first notable transfer fee was paid in 1933 for John Campbell. In 184 appearances Campbell smashed 104 goals, including seven hat tricks. That would seem to be money well spent, with us paying Leicester City £1250. In 2018 terms, that would equate to £85,047, already breaking the so-called record.
In 1952 our record fee of £6000 was matched when we paid Manchester United that sum for Brian Birch £164,122 considering inflation. He scored 16 times in 56 outings before moving to Barrow in 1956.
Aside from one move we’ll come on to later, our record fee wasn’t shattered again until the mid-1970s. It was 1974 in fact, when Lincoln City fans clubbed together to help fund a move for west Ham keeper Peter Grotier. His transfer fee was £16666, equivalent of £165,123 in today’s money. He delivered too, picking up a Fourth Division winner’s medal just two years later.
By the end of the seventies, City had fallen on hard times again, certainly in terms of points. To stop relegation from the third division, we paid Sheffield Wednesday £33,000 for Tommy Tynan, a player who averaged a goal every three games at Hillsbrorough. He averaged a goal every nine games at City, although he only appeared nine times. That disaster set us back £179,984 in today’s money.
Colin Murphy arrived looking to get the Imps back into the third division and in truth, he spent big. Back then, the money might not have seemed a lot, but he bought Derek Bell from Barnsley for £36000. Bell went on to score 33 times from 69 starts during an injury hit spell at Sincil bank. The move, in today’s terms, cost us £173,154. Frustratingly for City, Bell was a local boy, born in Wyberton but snapped up by derby County as a youth.
Two other players arrived around the same time, Tony Cunningham, Trevor Peake and Steve Thompson. Both cost fees that would be described as modest by today’s standards, £15,000 for Peake and Thompson, £20,000 for Cunningham. In today’s terms, Peake cost £72,000, Thompson cost £61,000 and Cunningham almost made six figures, £96,196.
Around the same time, we also made another signing, one of the top three outlays, taking inflation into account.
By the end of the 1980’s we were breaking records again. Paul Smith joined whilst we were a GMVC side, costing £47,000 from Port Vale. That would equate to £125,684 today. A year later, almost to the day, Gordon Hobson switched Division One side Southampton for Sincil Bank in a £60,000 move. Today, that would have cost us £152,952.
As the years draw on, the prices get smaller. We paid Leicester a club-record £63,000 for Grant Brown in 1990, £136,130 in today’s money. With 458 starts for the club, that proved to be a decent investment. In the late 1990s both Dean Walling and Tony Battersby set us back £75,000. Walling’s fee would be worth £129,768 today, whereas Tony Battersby would cost us £125,466.
So, who are the three players who tops our record signings chart, taking inflation into account? Find out on the next page