There’s something very satisfying about seeing your teams score written on the old videprinter.
Lincoln City 7 (Seven) Rochdale 1. Long before smartphones and the internet, the videprinter was the most up to date way of getting scores through. When your team scored seven or more, the BBC was kind enough to write the word as well as the numerals, just so you were sure it wasn’t a misprint.
On October 21st, 2006 I saw our score written for the first time ever. I used to spend my Saturday afternoon’s stood by Casey’s DJ Hut, watching both City and the scores from our league come through. I had the luxury that evening of watching Lincoln score seven and then having the BBC confirm what I’d seen in the flesh moments later.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, the end of 2006 saw some of the best football I’ve ever seen at Sincil Bank. For a few months, we were a slick and well oiled passing machine, serving up the sort of product the Sky TV Cameras would be happy to put on the box. Just a week prior to the Rochdale match we’d stuffed five past Barnet at Underhill, gaining some sort of revenge for the 6-0 thumping they handed us on their promotion in the early 1990’s.
Just days after a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Grimsby attracted just 2,000 fans, poorly supported Rochdale came to the Bank. 5194 turned up, with just 248 visitors. Around Lincoln the word was out: The Imps are a decent side. The line up that day was: Alan Marriott, Nicky Eaden, Nat Brown, Lee Beevers, Paul Mayo, Ryan Amoo, Lee Frecklington, Scott Kerr, Jeff Hughes, Mark Stallard and Jamie Forrester.
We were second going into the game, two points behind Walsall but one ahead of Swindon in third place. Rochdale came to Sincil Bank on a six-match unbeaten run, and sat in 13th. Their potential had been underlined two weeks previously when they’d thrashed Darlington 5-0.
Despite us being second our form had been indifferent. Before Barnet and an early October win against Hartlepool (2-0) we’d lost two on the bounce, away at Boston (1-0) and Bury (2-0). There was no reason to think this would be anything more than your average lower league clash.
The game didn’t take long to kick into life. A fierce drive from Jamie Forrester gave us the lead on eleven minutes, and within five minutes we were 2-0 up. His strike partner Mark Stallard slotting home from close range to put us in the driving seat. Even at that point, it didn’t feel like we’d run away with it, certainly not to get to the point where our goals tally needed describing in words.
Rochdale pulled one back through Alan Goodhall on 23 minutes, and what followed was a tense end to the opening period. 2-1 is a dangerous score, and having been 2-0 up Rochdale sniffed a chance. A youthful Glenn Murray missed a good opportunity, Sincil Bank hasn’t turned out to be a good ground for the forward, now at Brighton.
Just before half time, Jamie Forrester put daylight between the two sides with his second of the game, a sweet right-footed strike from just inside the area. The two-goal lead was restored and half time was upon us. They say it’s a good time to score, and for City that couldn’t be more true.
The goal deflated Rochdale and they came out a dispirited and disjointed side. Lincoln on the other hand came out ready to add more goals, and immediately we began to toy with our opposition like a cat playing with a dead mouse.
Jamie Forrester completed his third hat trick of the season just four minutes after the restart, slamming the ball home in front of the Stacey West, and the game was dead and buried. It wasn’t over, but a few of the Rochdale players thought it was. Simon Ramsden at right-back looked particularly lethargic, and Jeff Hughes proceeded to torment him, tease him and ultimately make him look utterly useless. I wouldn’t tell him that by the way, not after hearing him on Undr the Cosh.
A right foot Jeff Hughes strike made it 5-1 on 56 minutes, and just ten minutes later Mark Stallard grabbed his second and Lincoln’s sixth. We poured forward time after time, always looking like scoring. On the touchline we were jubilant, the way were playing we could have scored ten. Jeff Hughes added a second to make it 7-1 with 13 minutes still to play. Away fans were directly opposite the DJ booth, and at times the acoustics made them sound louder than the Stacey West. For those last thirteen minutes, the silence from that corner would have been deafening, if you could hear it over the chants of ‘we want eight’.
We didn’t get eight, we had to ‘settle’ for seven. Walsall won away at Accrington (2-1) and Swindon won away at Shrewsbury (2-1), but the result gave us a much more competitive goal difference. I remember sighing a little as their scores came through, only to do a little wee in excitement as I saw our score written. Lincoln 7 (seven) Rochdale 1.
A week later just under 1,000 Imps fans travelled to Swindon Town to watch us win 1-0. Coupled with Walsall drawing 0-0 at home with MK Dons, it meant we went top of the league for the first time in many years. John Schofield picked up a Manager of the Month award, Mark Stallard and Jamie Forrester got a couple of Player of the Month awards and Lee Frecklington was called up to the Eire B squad. It’s fair to say that Sincil Bank was surrounded by positivity, the like that which wasn’t seen again for a decade.