Looking back: Jack Lewis

Welcome to the latest in Malcolm Johnson’s excellent series looking back at Imps from the past.

Jack Lewis

Date of birth: 22.3.48

Born: Long Eaton, Derbyshire

Height: 5ft 9in

Position: Forward

City appearances: League: 49(15), goals: 9
FA & League Cups: 4(2), goals: 2
Total: 53(17), goals: 11

Frederick John Lewis, usually known as ‘Jack’ was born in Long Eaton, Derbyshire and played his first senior football for his home town club Long Eaton United in the Midland League. In those days the reserve sides of Lincoln City and other Football League clubs competed in the Midland League and after featuring in a game against City reserves in March 1967 the young winger was signed by manager Ron Gray for the Imps. After being on the bench for a game at Exeter his first appearance for the club came three days after his 19th birthday in a 4-0 home defeat by York City. Brought in for the injured Clive Ford, Maurice Burton in his Echo match report said it must have been a heart-breaking debut for the youngster. With Ford returning to the side Lewis was not called upon again until the final game of the season, when City, already doomed to bottom place, visited Stockport, already crowned champions and came away with an amazing 5-4 win. Lewis, as part of a new-look team that was the basis of Ron Gray’s successful side of the following season scoring his first goal for the club.

Jack Lewis really made his mark early in the following season in City’s epic run in the League Cup. After coming into the side for a few games in attack he kept his place for the visit of the Third Division’s second-placed side Torquay United and starred with two goals in the first eight minutes of a 4-2 victory that set up a visit to Derby County in the Fourth Round. He was then left out of the side in favour of new signing Norman Corner, but when the big centre forward suffered an ankle injury was back for the visit to the Baseball Ground and with the Imps 1-0 down had a goal controversially ruled out for offside. However, with Lewis Thom’s late goal securing a replay at Sincil Bank Lewis had lost his place again to the returning Corner as City were beaten in front of a record crowd.

Despite the poor form shown by Corner early on which saw defender Jim Grummett given a run of games in attack the young striker was to make just three further appearances in the 1967/68 season, including a last-day outing on the left wing, to make a total of 12 for the season with his only goals being the brace in the League Cup against Torquay.

However, Lewis made a fine start to the 1968/69 season playing as an attacking midfielder in place of the injured Roger Holmes, and contributing two second half goals in a 5-0 first day win over Notts County that saw the debuts of Graham Taylor and Dave Smith. But after City’s opening run of four victories came to an end with a 5-0 defeat at Darlington he was out of the side again when Holmes was once more available. He was back four games later with a goal from the subs’ bench in a 3-0 win over Grimsby, leading a correspondent to the Lincolnshire Chronicle to wonder why he wasn’t on the pitch from the start: “This man’s got real talent and it won’t help him to be shoved in and out of the side like a yo-yo”.

But the yo-yoing continued, and his next goal also came as a substitute, scoring with his first touch after coming on for broken leg victim Roger Holmes against York City. After that there were further brief runs in the side in midfield and another in attack later in the season which brought him two goals from eight games to end with a total of 30 appearances (eight as substitute) and six goals.

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  1. Giving my age away. I was at the Reserve match when Jack Lewis scored twice for Long Eaton in a 2-2 draw against City Res’ Ron Grey was actually reported to have signed Jack that very evening.

  2. Regarding Jack Lewis’s overall total of Football League appearances it seems that 412 could be correct after all. Although I’ve not been able to confirm it 100% it appears that he made two substitute appearances for Grimsby which were not recorded at the time in the Rothmans Football Yearbooks covering the seasons 1970/71 and 1972/73. If anyone’s completist enough to be interested!

    Also, information provided by Ian Nannestad shows that after leaving Scarborough Lewis played briefly for Yorkshire League side Bentley Victoria Welfare in Doncaster.

  3. Further to what Kelvin says about the signing of Jack Lewis after that Reserve match, this is Ron Gray’s account in his programme notes a couple of weeks later:

    ‘After the Reserve team game with Long Eaton Bert Loxley and myself travelled after the game to Long Eaton to receive permission from his father to sign him. Jack had 3 years of his apprenticeship to do as a fitter-turner, but without any hesitation and knowing that two or three First Division clubs were chasing for his signature, Mr Lewis gave his blessing for his son to join the Imps.’

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