Lincoln 0-1 Oxford 2003
This is one purely for me, rather than anything too memorable. It was the opening day of the 2003/04 season, a dawning of what seemed like a new era. For an opening day, considering we’d been in Cardiff just a couple of months earlier, the crowd was a disappointing 4,500, although it must have seemed like a lot. We named play-off hero Simon Yeo in the starting XI, along with the likes of Gain, Futcher, Morgan, Butcher and Rory May. Oxford were much fancied, and they had big Andy Crosby at the back, former Imp Paul Wanless in midfield and Julian Alsop up top. With Ian Atkins on the bench, it was a heated game indeed, as he was once public enemy number one, more so than Evans.
Within six minutes of the new era starting, City trailed 1-0. Steve Basham pounced on a loose ball following indecision in the Imps area, and that was how the score stayed. We weren’t helped by Simon Yeo’s red card on the half-hour mark, he got a second yellow for kicking the ball away and trudged sadly off to leave us with an uphill battle. After the game, Keith Alexander called the game as he saw it, saying we battled well in front of a ‘decent’ crowd. Let that sink in – 4,500 was a decent crowd. Feels unreal, given we were in the play-offs the year before.
I remember the game because my brother came to it with me, and I changed my behaviour after this day. I was always very animated, often too sweary and I loved giving the opposition keeper some stick. Andy Woodman was in goal for this game and we sat right at the front of the Stacey West, laying into him constantly. It was real bile, I’ll confess, and eventually, he turned to us and said ‘it’s only a game lad, why have you got to be like that?’.
I felt about an inch tall when I consider his words and have rarely barracked an opposition player without good cause since.