The Big Debate: Is our current squad better than 2003/04?

It’s a point I’ve seen raised on social media recently in the light of our recent transfer policy.

Michael Hortin pointed out he felt the current Imps’ squad was the strongest we’d had since he’s been covering the Imps. I agreed, but that does cover the 2003/04 squad that took us to the play-off semi-finals against Huddersfield.

Some say that squad was the best we’ve had at Lincoln City, featuring an on-loan Kevin Ellison and the likes of Yeo, Gain and Taylor-Fletcher. Was it the best? Or has the current squad usurped the old hands.

There’s only one way to find out, right?

Remember, this is opinion and nothing more. I mean no disrespect to any player or squad that doesn’t win. 2003/04 was a wonderful time for me as an Imps fan and the players I’m going to mention here are all heroes in one form or another to me. One or two are the very best players I’ve ever seen in red and white.

I’ll award one point per ‘victory’ in the match ups of the squad that faced Bury this weekend and the one we fielded against Huddersfield. It may be there’s a positional imbalance, if that’s the case I’ll try to be as fair as possible.

Let’s start with the keepers shall we?

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

2003/04 – Alan Marriott, Darren Horrigan

2018/19 – Josh Vickers, Grant Smith

This is very hard for me personally because I maintain that Alan Marriott is the best keeper I’ve seen in an Imps’ shirt. He was the mainstay of the side from before we went into administration through to the Peter Jackson era when he was so cruelly disposed of. Had Jackson not had an ego the size of Russia, Mazza would have played more games for this club than any other player, amassing a record in terms of appearances and clean sheets that would never have been beaten.

For that, I’m going to give him one point in the match up with Grant Smith, who started the Bury game.

In terms of whether Grant Smith is as good as Darren Horrigan, there’s little choice to be made. I’m going from the squad on the back of the programme from the Huddersfield play-off semi-final, Horrigan wasn’t on the bench for the game but would class as the reserve keeper.  I believe he works for Jewson now, successfully selling roofing products.

I’m scoring this round 1-1.


  1. A bit like comparing chalk with cheese. Far more valid would be to rate the current squad with Murphy’s early 80’s team (the best pure footballing team I ever saw in City colours} or the heroes of 75-76 (the most exciting Imps team ever). As for your Francis Green match-up – surely Jason Roberts can’t be that bad? Green may have worked his socks off but he had more chance of finding a pot of gold under a rainbow than the opposition goalmouth.

    • Michael, I agree the 1975/6 team was our most exciting – but not our best ever. I’m old enough to remember the 1955/6 side which finished just six points short of promotion to the top flight. Fred Middleton, Tony Emery, Dick Neal, Andy Graver & co were surely City’s best team ever. Up the Imps!!

      • Wholeheartedly agree, Geoffrey. Dick Neal was chosen for England under-23s that season and was one of the best players I’ve seen in an Imps shirt. And Tony Emery was a magnificent centre back.

  2. Presume you wrote this to get a reaction comparing teams and time periods need to take all factors into consideration to do it justice Keith being suspended 3 directors going in the same week assistant manager departing the scene yeo coming back from new Zealand if you were looking at a nearby season

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