My Favourite Five Pre-Season Friendlies

Lincoln City 2-2 Luton Town 1991


This wasn’t a classic, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a big game for me. Firstly, I think it was my first ever pre-season friendly, and secondly, it was between two clubs that I ‘supported’. I’ve told the story before, I’m Lincoln first and foremost, but I had to have a ‘mask’ to stop me being picked on at school. That mask was chosen from the Panini sticker album and became Luton Town.

For two years, I supported two clubs, watching Luton in two cup finals (Littlewoods Cup in 88 and 89), knowing their players as well as the Imps. I loved David Preece, and I always thought Kingsley Black and Mark Pembridge would go on to be world-beaters. When I heard Luton were visiting the Bank, I was utterly delighted.

Somewhere in my collection I have the Echo from the day after, but I have neither the time nor inclination to find it for this article. The reason I picked this game is that it became a watershed moment for me. I had collected Pro Set cards and had them all to hand, ready for signing. It pains me to admit it, but I briefly wondered if I should go in the away end, but common sense prevailed.  I remember getting Alec Chamberlain to sign his own Pro Set card that night, but I couldn’t cheer the Luton goals, only the Lincoln ones. That wasn’t because of where I sat, but because I realised I was Lincoln, through and through.

Just a few weeks later City were hammered 6-0 by Barnet at Sincil Bank. I remember sitting in our front room of our house on Hansards Drive in Wragby looking in disbelief at Teletext. Even though I was promoting myself as a Luton fan, that hurt. It hurt so much that I realised my heart was with City as much as Luton. Within a further six months, I realised that I didn’t need my mask, not really, so I let it gently slip away. I swear it genuinely had nothing to do with Luton being relegated at the end of the season!