The Worst Lincoln City Managers Of All Time

It seems as though you quite liked my article on the most underrated managers of our time earlier in the week and, as part of my research for that, I made a spreadsheet. As you do.

I collated all of the managers we’d had and added some new columns such as points per game, total points etc. Points per game threw up some interesting results, one of which was highlighting seven managers of the club who didn’t get to one point per game. I used 3 points for a win for every manager, to give a fairer comparison.

Technically, the PPG is a bit misleading as these figures include cup games, which you obviously do not get points for, but it only really affected those who managed for short periods, such as Steve Wicks and Allan Clarke. Seven of the names had an average of less than a point per game. Interested to know who they were? Then read on.

In the interest of making this a relevant list, I’ve actually stretched it to a top ten, planning to gloss over managers whom perhaps even Malcolm Johnson is too young to remember. That’s George Fraser, whose record on the site I used didn’t include his Midland League spell in 1921, and Jack Strawson who helped found the club and held positions as ambiguous as ‘coach secretary’.

With that in mind, here is the countdown of the top ten.

10: Steve Tilson 1.08 Points Per Game

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Do I really have to delve deeply into how he made the list? His win average (wins to games played) was actually better than the seven managers below him on the list (including Holdsworth, Sutton, Willie Bell, George Kerr’s second spell and Keith’s first spell), but a lack of draws puts him firmly in the worst 10. If only he’d converted a couple of those defeats to draws he would have escaped being on the list and we’d have escaped relegation.

I can’t go into the things he did badly, although he did assemble a half-decent side I felt in the summer of 2011, including Jamie Taylor, Alan Power, Josh Gowling and Sam Smith. Sadly, he had no idea how to play them and lost his job after Tamworth thumped us 4-0, which actually made the result worth it.

9: Shane Westley 1.07 PPG

Credit – Lincoln City

Shane Westley is an odd inclusion on here and perhaps not one you’d consider amongst the worst managers the club has had. He oversaw a late surge into automatic promotion after taking over from John Beck, earning promotion to the third-tier in 1998. Few promotion winning managers could be described as the ‘worst’ of anything, let alone those who masterminded a 2-1 win against Manchester City, but in the third tier he struggled for wins, at one point losing nine of 11 with two draws.

It’s tough on the former Wolves man but as this list is made up of points per game, he’s in at ten. Bearing in mind, games he lost include Millwall, Fulham, Preston, Oldham and Stoke City. In total, Westley lost 16 of the 30 matches he managed, winning nine.

8: George Kerr (First Spell) 1.06 PPG

George Kerr managed the club twice, with his second spell bringing just 1.11 points per game, which is an indication perhaps that he could claim to be one of our worst-ever manager by virtue of having two utterly rubbish spells as boss. His first spell, although unsuccessful, perhaps wasn’t as terrible as the numbers suggest. He inherited the dying carcass of Graham Taylor’s squad, older players getting past their best and young talent not quite there. He gave Mick Harford a Lincoln debut, but lost nine of his eighteen games in charge.

He does have a relegation on his charge sheet though, watching from the touchline as we dropped out of Division Three in 1985/86, before earning the sack as he guided us towards relegation in 86/87.


  1. Tilson, Buckley, Clarke, Wicks, Kerr, Daniel, Sutton & Bell (both not listed)… hell, we’ve had some bloody terrible managers in my lifetime and hopefully we won’t get one as bad as that lot in the foreseeable future. Makes you wonder how any of them were ever appointed in the first place.

  2. Shows why some stats need further context, like pass completion if the pass is just 2 yards back and forth. Westley and Tilson are 0.01 apart and yet hugely different reputation wise. Perhaps you need to factor in who the teams were we lost to in both cases. It is also relevant when a run happens, Tilson lost a run of games at the end of the season, Westley at the start so the outcomes are very different.

    Buckley is no surprise. But for the LDV Vans area final run, ending in a shoeing from Vale, we were utterly awful. We tried to play passing football and it was woeful. But for the quirk of Hereford v Brighton as last game of the season, those being the bottom two and only one goes down, it could have been a worse outcome. And I will never forgive his son; I came back to Stanstead airport in June wearing a Lincoln shirt and the security guard gave me a load of grief about one of our players stealing from others and is the sort of thing my people did. And you can’t exactly robustly argue back in that situation so had to just smile and nod.

    • Beggars belief really why we appointed a manager so intrinsically linked with our biggest rivals – I remember being appalled at the time of his appointment, no way did I want him as our manager. And then the utterly deplorable act of employing his useless (and dishonest) son on a two-year deal further added fuel to my ire, along with shocking performances on the pitch. And to think, Buckley had the likes of Marriott, Morgan, Holmes, G Brown, Sedgemore, Thorpe, Finnigan, Bailey, Barnett, Bimson and Walker at his disposal and he still nearly sent us down.

      • Not only linked, but key to their period of (relatively) huge success. I dare say a poll of best Grimsby managers would have Buckley in there

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