The postponements continued as the New Year’s Day visit to Mansfield and the following Tuesday night’s fixture at Rotherham were both called off due to the weather leaving City having played fewer games than any other side in the division. That they didn’t play Chester on the 8th of January however was due to a rearrangement rather than a postponement as it was FA Cup Third Round day
The draw had given Lincoln a tough away tie with a Burnley side who had been relegated from the First Division at the end of the previous season. Despite still having a number of top flight quality players in their side they were however involved in something of a relegation battle in 20th place and had gone eight games without a win.
I would not otherwise have contemplated going to the game, considering it too difficult to get to by train (although I was to make the trip in later years) but someone I worked with put me in touch with an Imps supporter who was looking for someone to share petrol costs with so I was able to get a lift there.
With Peter Graham sustaining an injury in the abandoned game at York Percy Freeman returned to the side while Burnley included former England full back Keith Newton and current internationals Brian Flynn (Wales) and Terry Cochrane (Northern Ireland), plus future England winger and European Cup winner Tony Morley. In a game which could have gone either way City took an early lead when John Ward took advantage of a mix-up in the Burnley defence but the home side equalised before the break through leading scorer Peter Noble. They then went ahead early in the second half but City equalised in turn five minutes later when Alan Harding fired home from the edge of the area.
The replay took place the following Wednesday night in rather snowy conditions but thankfully the game was not only able to go ahead but also be completed. The fixture brought back some memories for me of one of the few games I can identify that I saw in the 1959/60 season. Burnley then also visited Sincil Bank in an FA Cup Third Round tie, but in those days, they were on their way to a League Championship and City were holding their own in the Second Division. That day too, the attendance was over 21,000, but this time was only just over half that, but still a very respectable 11,414, only a hundred or so short of the figure at Turf Moor. City were unchanged and paid for several missed chances when Burnley’s Paul Fletcher scored the only goal of the game midway through the second half.
The weather did intervene again the following Saturday with the postponement of the visit to Sincil Bank of Walsall. However, this was quickly rearranged for the following Tuesday night but less than half of the attendance for the Burnley match turned up to see a visiting side, who although struggling in the relegation zone had lost their last game by only 1-0 against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. However, City ran out easy winners as an unchanged side took an early lead through Alan Harding before two second half goals from Phil Hubbard, playing as a striker after Percy Freeman had gone off injured after half an hour gave City control of the match. Dave Smith made it 4-0 before substitute John Fleming also had to leave the field through injury as City played the last fifteen minutes with ten men during which later Imps manager Alan Buckley pulled a goal back for the visitors.
Off the field news was the appointment to the board of two new directors. These were Navenby builder Maurice Green and estate agent Bill Crone both of whom brought new investment to the club.
For reasons lost in the mists of time I didn’t make the journey to Shrewsbury the following Saturday. Peter Graham replaced Freeman in the side for what promised to be a tough game against a side just two points off second place, and so it proved. On a muddy pitch City were beaten 2-1, their goal coming from Sam Ellis’s sixth penalty of the season.
Another tough fixture came the following Saturday at league leaders Brighton as I evidently decided this was too far to travel. After a run of six games in the side at right back young Brendan Guest was left out for this match in favour of the experience of Ian Branfoot. In the end City were well beaten 4-0 although Brighton’s first half lead only came thanks to a penalty by later Imps defender Graham Cross which the referee had ordered to be re-taken after Peter Grotier had saved his first effort.