I’ve often done comparisons between squads, picking a best XI and that sort of thing, but I’ve never tried to do a mash-up of the last side to get promoted from the Fourth Division and the current squad.
In 1997/98 we somehow shithoused our way into the third tier. We won just three matches between December 2nd and March 13th, but still snuck into the top three and into matches at Manchester City, Stoke and Macclesfield.
There were some superb players in that squad, some others who were perhaps just best described as ‘honest’, but if the two teams were to be mixed up, who would get a place in the starting XI? If that’s ever kept you up at night, you have no need to worry because here is your answer.
We have quite a choice of keepers, John Vaughan finished the season in goal for us, something to do with Barry Richardson being suspended, but I’m not sure I’d go with either of those. I still maintain, on his day, Josh Vickers is Championship quality. We’ll have him in the sticks.
I’ve had to shuffle some players around in defence, mainly because two of the finest left-sided centre backs we’ve had in my lifetime clash and I want them both in. Super Kevin Austin has to be included, but he could play left back so gets to have Jason Shackell at the side of him.
My heart has ruled my head in the other centre back role. I know it should read ‘Bostwick’, but it doesn’t. it reads ‘Brown’ as in ‘Grant’. He’s our record appearance holder and in my mind, he plays. Neal Eardley beats Baby Barnett to the right back role, which is no surprise.
Given how talented our current midfield is, it may surprise you to find two from ’98 in there. Terry Fleming was quality on his day, good on the ball and an absolute bastard off it. He could kick his way out of Alcatraz if the game demanded it and he’d be wonderful in our current squad. John Finnigan is still one of the finest midfielders to grace Sincil Bank and although he joined late in that season, he’s in too. Imagine if we’d actually played the ball through midfield in 1998!
One thing the current side does better than any Lincoln City team in my memory is wide players, with Andrade and Anderson both getting the nod here. Sorry to Richard Peacock but I’m afraid the current squad have the skills to pay the bills.
Up front I thought I might give central defenders a double threat, so in a 4-4-2 it’s John Akinde and Lee Thorpe. Thorpe was a player who suffered due to the era, playing in increasingly poor teams and often left to lead the line alone. He was a big, angry striker who left a few elbow-shaped dents in defenders. With Akinde, a powerful prospect who could benefit from flick ons, he’d be terrifying.
Apart from giving me stick about picking Grant Brown, what do you think?