The Lincoln City Managers Who Deserve More Credit

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I’ve been watching with interest as people name their top five all-time Lincoln City managers.

The lists almost all comprise of the same five names, for obvious reasons. Bill Anderson, for putting us in the second tier, keeping us there and winning two titles. Keith Alexander, for four play-off appearances in a row, and Graham Taylor for winning the Fourth Division in 1976. Danny Cowley is up there for winning three trophies in as many years and Colin Murphy, with two promotions and one title, is another popular pick.

John Beck does get on some people’s list, but I’m not opening up that can of worms.

It did get me to thinking though; which managers might history be doing a disservice to? Which managers perhaps don’t get the credit they deserve, the ones who nearly made it with the Imps, or who played a key role in the club’s history without quite making the legends list. The truth is, all of the names on the top five did something; survival at a high level, play-offs, trophies. If you’re one of the few outside that without honours but with a legacy, then you’re sure to make the following list of men I feel need a little recognition.

The list is chronological, and I’m happy to open up debate and discussion.


  1. Agree with these. Schoey has us playing the best football I have ever seen. It was a friendly against Leicester where I think my jaw hit the floor with the game I saw.

    Simpson is a definite one for me. Whenever the talk moves to Cowley’s achievements the thinking man will always say “of course it was Moyses who set us on the road to recovery”. But this misses the man who saves us from going down when he came in around March time. Got us mid table the next year and then was sacked for drawing 3-3 away at FGR. Moyses got in some great players and sorted out the training ground, but it was him and Simpson who laid the foundations. It won’t argue it fully, but could it be said without Simpson there would be no Lincoln as we know it? We were going down out the conference until he came in along with Lee Beevers and Nat Brown.

  2. I wouldn’t include David Herd on that list.
    1. After becoming manager he was unable to prevent a finish in the re-election zone in 1970/71 – admittedly there was a horrendous list of injury problems that season.
    2. In 1971/72 after looking well set for promotion things just fell apart in the last month of the season.
    3. After Graham Taylor’s side finished fifth in 1975 we know what happened afterwards, but after Herd’s fifth place in 1972 we were going nowhere the following season.
    4. Of the players he brought to the club – rather than inherited such as Ward, Freeman and Smith – only Terry Cooper formed part of Taylor’s side with the latter fairly quickly shipping out Herd signings such as Bradley, McMahon, Bloor, and later on Worsdale, McGeough and Symm.
    Mind you, all I’ve written above is probably down to the disappointment of missing promotion in 1971/72!
    Maybe David Calderhead (senior) deserves a mention? He did take take City to their highest ever league placing of fifth in Division Two in the middle of several other respectable placings in the same division, plus an appearance in the last 16 of the FA Cup.

  3. I initially thought David Herd for my No 5, but chose Ron Gray instead. We went on the great League Cup run with Ron in charge, beating Newcastle Utd and their stars. We lost to Derby County in a replay. Should have won at the Baseball Ground, but a shot on goal got stuck in the mud on the goal line and was cleared away.
    The replay is still the record attendance at Sincil Bank.

    • Wouldn’t argue against Ron Gray who also revitalised the club and put an end to the series of re-election applications in the mid-1960s.

  4. I would include David Holdsworth . If it wasn’t for him cutting the squad and budget then we would probably have been back in administration. His job was too put 11 players on the pitch as cheaply as possible . Didn’t get the credit he deserved I’m my opinion.

  5. Simmo is a great shout. His team put a smile on my face for the first time in five years at Sincil Bank. And he was a link with the Keith years.

  6. Agree re Holdsworth – he got a bad press for his ‘big black book’ and revolving door for players and God knows he could turn them over.

    However, he had a job to do following Tilson and did it reasonably well. He was unlucky – a minute or so from winning the FA Cup 2nd round match v Mansfield (thanks, Rheady) which would have landed the home tie v Liverpool and things could have been very, very different. That following the Imps’ first ever FA Cup win over a side 2 divisions higher, at Walsall.

    The loss of the replay at the end of a good run seemed to kill all confidence in the squad and it all fizzled out from there before his replacement by Simmo and that desperate, relegation threatened end to that season.

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