The release of the new kit this week got me thinking a bit about badges, as did the discovery of an old clock in my shed. It had a badge on I found difficult to put a year to, so it inspired me to do a brief history of our badges.
When I was growing up, the badge was as important as the kit for one good reason: it was always the shiny in a Panini sticker album. I’m not talking about Lincoln, they never featured in the ablums I collected, but I knew my St Mirren from Aberdeen, my Millwall from my Birmingham simply by the badge. Nowadays, fans probably idetify colours and sposnors just as easily, but for me it was always the badge.
I often got frustrated when badges changed, or even at that young age felt tradition was being ruined. Obviously, time has taught me little is sacred, but back then if it was embossed on a foil sticker, it was as much a part of the club as their nickname or their stadium.
Whilst badges were made for supporters to wear as early as the late 19th century, they didn’t become a key part of club kit until a little over 60 years ago, 1960/61 to be exact. The first team group photo to clearly show a badge on display is from our relegation campaign of that year, which gives the club crest something of an inauspicious start.
The very first Lincoln badge did not have the Imp on it, although we were known as the Imps from around 1919. Instead, the first crest featured the fleur-de-lis on a simple red cross, with a white background. I have often been asked about the relevance of the fleur-de-lis, which is particularly associated with the French monarchy. The badge is actually a representation of the Lincoln coat of arms, which features the fleur-de-lis as a symbol for St Mary, patron saint of the city. The cross is derived from the Diocese of Lincoln and although this coat of arms was never granted, it is recorded at the college of arms. It was a simple first badge, which likely featured a plain white cross, although the only photos available are in black and white.
It was the first crest featured in a cigarette card set for the club to, in which it featured just two colours, the red and white which has become synonymous with the Imps (although sometimes a little more red and white..). The badge itself wasn’t around for long – it was dropped in 1964 after the Imps finished in the bottom three of their division four seasons out of five, being relegated twice. In 1964/65 the club adopted a different kit and the crest was gone.
The next time a badge appeared on a shirt, it was here for good. After ditching the red and white stripes in favour of pinstripes, then a red shirt, the club seemed to find some modicum of success and in 1971/72, the crest returned. It came back during David Herds first full season in charge and saw the first use of the Imp as the logo. The first Imp badge was almost identical to the one we have now, featuring a dedicated rendition of the cathedral carving, in white and embroidered onto a red shirt. I don’t have a clear picture of it, but this team group from the 1971/72 season shows the return.
The Imp’s returned coincided with the nickname The Red Imps arriving at the club; that came in 1967 to cement the identity presented by the red shirts. However, by 1973/74 we went back to red and white stripes, but still have the Imp as the badge. For two seasons, the Imp appears to have been red or black on the red stripes, but by 1975/76 the badge went red on white, which is accurate in today’s effort.