Whilst our non-league experience was not pleasant at the time, it is worth remembering it from time to time.
2016/17 is the obvious place to start, but between May 2011 and May 2016 were had four managers (Tilson, Holdsworth, Simpson and Moyses) as well as a huge amount of players, good and bad. In particular, the period between May 2011 and May 2015 saw a number of faces who won’t exactly go down in Imps’ folklore. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be remembered though, some as a cautionary tale of how low we sank and others because they weren’t bad footballers.
Yesterday, we ran a quiz featuring a few of those players here. If you haven’t taken it yet, please do before going into this article, otherwise, you might actually bag 10/10. If you have taken it and couldn’t remember the players in question, then this is the article for you. I’ll be running a couple more of these quizzes over the next few days, with articles about the players in question afterwards. Below, you’ll find the first collection in our gallery of forgotten Imps.
Aristede Bassele – Midfield 1 (1) Apps 0 Goals
It’s worth noting that appearances and goals only apply to FA Cup proper or in the league itself. Bassele did appear for us in the FA Trophy away at Tamworth, which is where he is seen here in action. He was one of the enormous numbers of average or non-descript players signed by David Holdsworth in an attempt to keep us in the National League. He joined on loan from Hayes and Yeading (yep, you read that right) and came on in the last minute of a 3-2 home win against Hereford, before appearing in the 3-1 defeat at Tamworth. Cup-tied, he missed our home draw with Mansfield, but started the next match, a 2-0 home defeat by Woking, coming off at half time and not being seen at Sincil Bank again.
He’s since appeared for Welling, Concord Rangers and Braintree, although has no obvious connections with Danny Cowley.
Craig Hobson – Forward 5 (7) Apps 1 Goal
Hobson was signed as a last throw of the dice by beleaguered manager David Holdsworth, and just two games into his short stay Holdsworth was dismissed. He stayed on loan until the end of the season, scoring once as we 2-0 away at Alfreton but it was clear he didn’t have a future at Lincoln.
Writing this, I can’t believe that Hobson played 12 times for our football club. He was belligerent on social media, ineffective in an Imps shirt and has since gone on to prove he wasn’t a National league quality footballer at all.
The plain and simple truth was the Craig Hobson was not good enough to wear the shirt and his loan signing showed all the desperation that Holdsworth eventually resorted to towards the end of his reign. Scored a couple of times for Chester in a two-year stay but once again failed to impress and has begun his descent down the non-league pyramid around Altrincham, Aberystwyth, Ashton and Alfreton.
Colin Larkin – Forward 15 (20) Apps 8 Goals
I quite rated Larkin when he was with us. He wasn’t Football League quality, but he did look like he cared, which is more than could be said for a few. He was a lively striker who had a decent season at Mansfield Town in 2005 which set him up for a career of floating around the lower leagues with Chesterfield, Northampton and Hartlepool amongst his former clubs. Came to Lincoln under David Holdsworth and enjoyed a goal every three and a half games which, unlike most of Holdsworth’s signings, was a good contribution.
At the time Holdsworth said: “We do require goals and Colin’s come for all the right reasons. He’s fit and ready to go, which is a really important factor. He’s a very good addition to our squad. It’s nice to be able to bring in a guy who’s 30 years old but very quick and very able. As a manager, it’s nice for me to be able to attract that type of player.” The former Wolves trainee netted eight times for The Imps before leaving the club in 2013 to be closer to his North-East home.
Chris Sharp – Forward 3 (0) Apps 1 Goal
Chris Sharp joined on loan from Hereford under Gary Simpson, having impressed by bagging a couple of goals against us the previous season. He struggled for game time at Sincil Bank and made three starts, scoring once as we whimpered to a 4-1 defeat at Forest Green. He kept Waide Fairhurst out of the side whilst on-loan, but went back to Hereford once his spell was finished. Failed to score at all for Hereford on his return and ultimately, as many of the short-term players we have had during our National League spell, he spent much of his career floating around the lower league with Stockport, FC United of Manchester, Salford City and Alfreton.
Gary Mills – Midfielder 23 (1) Apps 0 Goals
Mills arrived from Nuneaton having played for David Holdsworth at Mansfield Town. He was immediately named club captain and given a first team spot. No initially cause for alarm. He had won a few honours in his time playing for Rushden and Diamonds and Stevenage. In over 125 outings for Rushden, he had earned promotion from the Conference and then again from League Two.
Mills was billed as the type of player that does the unseen work, the harassing and pressuring of opponents, the simple distribution of the ball and the constant breaking up of play, a bit like Alex Woodyard. If this was the case he was really good at it, because it was completely unseen in his 24 outings for Lincoln. What we did see was a lot of pointing and shouting, which is good for a captain, but a lack of actual touches tarnishes that somewhat. He became a figure of derision and didn’t do himself any favours with his often abrasive and confrontational style on social media.
He played his last game for City in December 2012 before having his contract terminated by mutual consent when Gary Simpson arrived at the club. Nobody really mourned his departure and he ended up at Boston and latterly Kings Lynn.
Jon Nolan – Midfielder 64 (11) Apps 6 Goals
Jon Nolan is a good footballer, he always was and he still is. When appearing in red and white he often drifted in and out of games, but his talent is undeniable. He is what your dad would call ‘a proper footballer’, with a good touch and a degree of vision. There was no doubt in my mind Nolan would end up playing league football, once he sorted out that consistency.
His high points included a late leveller at Barnet in 2013 and a winner at Southport the same season, but low points included his 18th-minute dismissal in a game against Eastleigh. we lost 4-0, they missed three penalties and he didn’t score again for the club. it is worth mentioning that abject performance came just a week after hammering champions-elect Barnet 4-1 at the Bank, with Nolan scoring.
The following season his form tailed off and he was rumoured to want away, ending up going out on loan to Wrexham when the Imps were in the middle of a gruelling season. It was no doubt influenced by his good friend and Wrexham player Sean Newton. Whatever he had achieved (in short spells) on the pitch was soon forgotten when he legged it to Wales. His game time was limited when he returned and he wound up at Grimsby after we terminated his contract.
Needless to say, he went on to score the goals that helped then to achieve Football League status again, before impressing at Chesterfield, Shrewsbury and moving to Ipswich. There’s no denying his talent, but he wouldn’t be warmly welcomed back at Sincil Bank, which is a shame.