The day is finally here, it is time for the Top 100 Lincoln City Players of a Generation to be revealed.
The list has been controversial, it has been heavily debated and today, it will be completed. At 7 pm this evening, Ben and I will be going Live on YouTube and Facebook (those are the links to the sites) and we’ll be revealing the Top 25 Player of a Generation, as voted for by you, the Stacey West readers.
If you want to ensure you don’t miss out, make sure you either follow The Stacey West on Facebook here, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel here and you’ll be all good to go. The podcast itself will be released on audio tomorrow, but if you are online and watching you’ll be able to give you opinions and get involved. Good or bad, we’ll read those opinions out.
In the meantime, there is the small matter of the final ten before our countdown. Doubtless, we will instigate more discussion and debate, but here are the players we just missed out on talking about this evening.
35 Phil Neale
Phil Neale was relatively unique in that he played for City as well as captaining Worcestershire in cricket. Whilst at Worcestershire he saw success in the County Championship in 1988 and 1989. Neale was a right-handed middle-order batsman and was a fixture in Worcestershire side for the 15 seasons; scoring 1,000 runs in a season eight times and exceeding 900 in five others, and captaining the side for many years. His sole representative appearance was for England A against Pakistan when they toured England. In all matches, he scored more than 17,000 runs at an average of almost 36.5 runs per innings.
He emerged in the early 1970s at Lincoln United, before progressing to Graham Taylor’s reserve side in 1974/75. He became a part of Taylor’s winning squad in 1976 and remained a regular right through until 1984/85, his testimonial year. That meant 327 outings, just eight more from the bench. He scored 22 times in his Imps career, including a bizarre seven in ten games in 1981/82. He remained at the club throughout those wonderful early 1980s seasons with Colin Murphy, partly thanks to Murphy’s willingness to let him mix cricket and football.
34 Sam Ellis
Big sam as he was apparently known played before my time and sadly, my memory of him is somewhat sullied by his unsuccessful stint as manager. However, fans that recall the 1976 season, and the period either side of that in which he played, will have much fonder memories to recollect. He was skipper at Sincil Bank during the record-breaking 1976 title win, having arrived from Mansfield Town for a fee of £5k, around £36k in today’s money. He spent four years with the Imps, winning Player of the Year twice during that spell, but later followed Graham Taylor to Watford. After managing Lincoln he had spells working under Kevin Blackwell as assistant at Leeds, Stoke and Luton Town. In total, he appeared 173 times in the league for the Imps, scoring 33 times.
33 David Felgate
In the 2007 Vote, Felgate finished 14th and Ellis 15th and again, there is little to separate them in terms of votes. It must be noted that for players from 40 years ago to still be so fondly remembered, and held in the same esteem, should be an indication of how good they were for the club. More than half of the voters, maybe even two thirds, won’t have seen either play and yet here they both are, still flying a flag for what is now a bygone era. Felgate kept 72 clean sheets in 198 league matches for City, a super record when you consider much of it came in the third-tier. He was also capped for Wales whilst playing for City, one of the few players of the time to earn international recognition whilst at the club. He was twice named in the PFA Team of the Season during his time here, and once named Player of the Season too. In all competitions, he turned out 233 times.
32 Alex Woodyard
The influence of more recent voters sees Alex Woodyard enter just outside the top 30 and if I’m honest, I feel he is one of the best midfielders we have seen here in our time. Some might point to a failure to break through at Peterborough as an indication of his ability, but for two seasons he was utterly delightful to watch. He wasn’t a scorer, he wasn’t one for creating assists, but he made the side tick. He was named Player of the Year during our 2016/17 title-winning season and I think that tells you everything you need to know about the tenacious and energetic central midfielder. He turned out more than 100 times for City, winning two trophies and appearing in the League Two play-off semi-finals. Not bad for a player who supposedly only passed sideways.
31 Richard Butcher
I don’t think anyone could begrudge Butch his place around the top 30. A thoroughly likeable lad who was a threat box-to-box, he became a key component of Keith’s play-off sides after joining in 2003. His goal away at Bournemouth helped secure our first ever play-off appearance, and the following season his partnership with Peter Gain helped us to the top seven again. In his second full season, we were back in Cardiff, arguably with our best chance at promotion since 1998, falling at the last hurdle. He was snapped up by Oldham but returned on loan seemingly desperate to return. It didn’t happen and after a strong spell at Notts County, he came back, again, under Peter Jackson. sadly, Chris Sutton came in not long after and Butch was shipped out. He tragically passed away in January 2011 at the age of 29, but his impact with the Imps will never be forgotten.