The date of March 25th, 2006 may not stand out for some. I even had to look it up.
It was the day I found myself stood on a seat in the Family Stand of all places, belting out a rendition of ‘We’re the Pride of Lincolnshire’ as loud as I could. There wasn’t much you could sing in the Family Stand from that time, but this was a kid-friendly chant that everyone was happy to join in with after Lee Beevers added a late fifth goal in our 5-0 rout of Grimsby. At that moment, it felt like we were the pride of the county.
We weren’t, not in the sense of league positions, because Scunthorpe had gone up the season before. We weren’t in terms of average attendance either, or even in terms of the League Two table. None of that mattered though, because we were in that split second, that one wonderful moment.
I found myself perusing Twitter this morning, looking for a story to keep The Real EFL going for another day, when I saw Imps’ fans trolling Grimsby as the Codheads announced the EFL dates for next season. Sadly (for them, not us), a few of their fans were even doing the same. Right now, we probably are the Pride of Lincolnshire, given how we’re the only team playing out of the county above League Two. Of course, ask a Grimsby fan and they’ll find an argument for them, whereas I’m sure Scunthorpe fans might find one that supports them as the top team in the county. I remember falling out with plenty of Scunthorpe fans back in 2017, when I told them we were coming and they weren’t a big club. I’ve become less confrontational in my style I think, but I in my eyes we have claimed the title of Pride of Lincolnshire.
Who would be right though?
Lincolnshire Senior Cup
In 1882, the PoL (as I’ll refer to it to save my fingers) was Spilsby Town. They had won the inaugural Lincolnshire Senior Cup, before the inception of the Football League. In fact, it was their third win in 1883 that sparked discussions around the city of forming a new club in Lincoln to challenge for the honour, which as we know became the case. In fact, our long rivalry with Grimsby started after the shenanigans which saw them win their first County Cup back in 1885/86. It was something of a scandal and sets the scene for a century and a half of rivalry.
Technically, one could use the Lincolnshire Senior Cup as the exact definition of the PoL, but it would be a stretch considering it is rarely taken seriously anymore. I’m not sure I could tell you the last time we played in the competition, doubtless, a pre-season friendly was actually a game in the cup. Now, if we were to start talking about wins, The Imps and The Mariners are actually on 38 each, with the 2014/15 final levelling things up. In the last five years, Cleethorpes Town and Gainsborough Trinity have won it twice, Lincoln United once, but none of those are really the PoL, are they?
Furthest in the FA Cup
The FA Cup quickly overtook the Lincs Senior Cup as the major competition for all teams, so what is the furthest each side have progressed in the FA Cup? Well, Boston United have reached a Third Round reply twice, once in 1973/74, where they held Derby 0-0 at the Baseball Ground, before going out to the Rams 6-1 in front of a reported 11,000 four days later. In 2004/05, the draw was kind and handed the Hornchurch (5-2), Hereford (3-2) before a Third Round tie with Hartlepool, which ended 0-0 in the North East, but seeing them turned over again at York Street, this time 1-0.
Scunthorpe have made the fifth round on two occasions, in 1957/58 and again in 1969/70. In 57/58 they beat Goole 2-1, Bury 2-0 and Bradford City 1-0 to reach round four. A surprise 3-1 win against Newcastle saw them progress to the last 16, where Liverpool beat them 1-0. In 1969/70, they needed a replay to beat Macclesfield in the First Round, another two games to despatch Stockport in round two, but a single game to beat Millwall 2-1 in the next stage. They turned over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in the Fourth Round, before losing to Swindon Town on Saturday February 7, 1970.
I started writing this kinda hoping that no Lincolnshire club, other than us, had made a quarter final, but Grimsby have made a semi-final, twice. Does pre-war count? If so, eventual winners Arsenal knocked them out in 1936, whilst Wolves thrashed them 5-0 in the 1939 semi-final. Interestingly, we were eliminated by the other finalists, Portsmouth, who won the cup.
Our own record, as we know, shows an FA Cup quarter-final in modern times. I’m going to claim that getting there as a non-league club (Grimsby were First Division) makes our achievements better, but then I would, wouldn’t I?