As it turns out, 2019/20 is to be my 20th season photographing the Imps. For a photographic hobbyist (or pleb with a camera) that originated from the North East, I suppose that may be seen an odd place to end up, writes Graham Burrell.
Back in 1995, I moved down to Lincolnshire when I got married, and in ‘96 decided to start going to Lincoln City games. My first game was the Alan Shearer friendly against Newcastle Utd, funnily enough, the only time I have seen NUFC play despite living in Newcastle for 11 years after moving there from South Shields back in ‘83! It was during the John Beck ‘direct football’ days, and I have since learned that period is not particularly looked upon with great affection by many City fans. I did, however, find visiting the Bank to be my weekend sports fix as it was now a little difficult to travel back up to the North East to see my first sporting love, Whitley Warriors. (ice hockey if you don’t know)!
At the time crowds weren’t exactly filling Sincil Bank, so it was easy to park and get in! I enjoyed watching football matches for a change as I hadn’t really been to many since the 70’s when I would occasionally go and watch South Shields. I went to my first away game to Rotherham, that was Gareth Ainsworth’s last game in a City shirt and the only other game in England that night was the national team playing at Wembley.
In those days before social media, there was a little bit of computer communication through things like bulletin boards. One, in particular, was the Lincoln List which I joined but didn’t really contribute much, mainly just reading other people’s comments, learning about LCFC and sort of “introducing” myself as “The Geordie With a Yellowbelly” to other ‘Listers’.
At the time it was popular for these lists to play matches against each other and I got involved with Lincoln List team known as The Dam Netbusters! This was how I met the city fans that have become friends since, people such John Vickers (JV), Lee Chester, Marcus Needham (STALIN), Colin Green, Steve Day, Lee Armstrong, Keith Johnson, Steve Rowland (MULDER), Paul Spencer (SPENN) Kev Stow, Simon Mills, Al Kitching, Adam Wellings and many others. I think by then you could safely say I had been hooked by Lincoln City FC and had found my new team to watch, although I still follow the Warriors though and hockey is still my favourite sport (just).
The first time I met any of the “listers” was up in Berwick when City played a pre-season friendly there and I had been doing an Open University summer school at Durham and Simon Mills was there. For some reason, there was a guy in St. Louis that had come across the list and planned to come over and watch a game. Chris Jersan still doesn’t clearly explain how or why he has become an avid Lincoln City fan and still comes over occasionally to see the Imps, he is a bit of a jinx though! He was welcomed to the Bank by most of the Listers and the stadium manager at the time, Nigel Dennis. We played a game against a team made up of LCFC staff on the pitch just after that season finished. I also remember playing a game against a team that included Phil Stant on the astroturf; it was handy knowing Nigel!
We even played a game in Hyde Park against the QPR team that had recently won a European “list” competition, we were very happy to draw 2-2 with them as we toddled off to watch Lincoln City at Craven Cottage.
During this period, I was still working away from home a lot and missed that famous League Cup win against Man City as I was in Germany. I had taken a few pics of the ground, the Centre Spot etc. for JV and was asked if I fancied getting more involved in matchday photography, but I just couldn’t commit due to my job. However, I had always fancied doing it and during the 2000/01 season, decided to give it a go. I initially was taking photos for the fledgeling Redimps.com site run by JV and the Impernet site as at the time I had invested in a DSLR and even then the Echo photographers were still using film.
At the time most people had dial up internet connections and pictures were limited to a size of 320 X 200 pixels! Yes, PIXELS! Broadband was a while away yet too!
As you can probably guess, I got hooked and have been photographing LCFC at every game I can get to since. So, over a series of Stacey West ‘guest blogs’, as a look back over those years, I would like to share some photographs I have taken during that time from the highs and lows.
I hope you enjoy them. Please excuse the quality of the pics in the early years, cameras are much, much better now!
Let’s start with 2000/01.