You may have caught my article earlier in the week, listing the players who made their debut in the EFL Trophy since we came back in the league.
Whether you call it Leasing.com, Papa John’s or Checkatrade, it is a controversial competition that has been used to blood our young players. Billy Brooks and Sam Long are the most recent, but in the four years since we’ve been back in the league, no fewer than 16 players have made their debuts.
For the second part of the article, I have gone back to the earliest days of the trophy, maybe even too far. The Football League Trophy officially started in 1983/84, called the Associate member’s Cup, but for two years before that, we had, well, the Football League Trophy. In 1981/82, it was called the Football league Group cup (no idea why that didn’t catch on) before being called the FLT in 1982/83. We reached the final, but it was at Sincil Bank rather than Wembley. Anyway, I’ve counted that competition too, making 18 debutants.
There’s a fair few names to get through, and you must forgive me as some players are so rare, I don’t have pictures of them.
Disclaimer – I have done the research for this using the Nannestad’s book and a ruler, so please forgive me if I have made an error. I got about three hours of sleep last night and desperately want to go back to bed for a month.
Sam Clucas (2009/10) v Darlington
Sam Clucas made one appearance in a Lincoln shirt, and if you saw it, it meant you braved a long trip to crisis-club Darlington on a Tuesday night in September. He got 63 minutes before being replaced by Lennel John-Lewis. Within days, Peter Jackson was sacked, and the master of scouting Chris Sutton came in and released Clucas. Not sure what happened to him after that.
Peter Folkes (2004/05) v Doncaster Rovers
The fact five years passed without a single debutant does speak volumes, although some of the young players you’d expect to features (Martin Pembleton, Gark King, Phil Watt, Andy Hutchinson etc.) got their debuts in the league. The EFL Trophy was rarely more than one game for the Imps most of the time, and that was exactly the number of starts Peter Folkes made for us. We lost this game 1-0, and he made two further appearances, in the FA Cup and League Cup, both from the bench.
Adam Kerley (2004/05) v Doncaster Rovers
Kerley was a product of the youth academy, and he made his Imps debut in the same game as Folkes, getting five minutes as a sub for Martin Carruthers. He got three minutes a couple of weeks after in the league, then moved on to Gainsborough. It’s a shame, as he looked impressive for the reserves with plenty of goals.
Lee Frecklington (2003/04) v Telford United
Interesting fact (I mean interesting if you find this article interesting, not generally): Lee Frecklington made his Imps debut and played his final game in the EFL Trophy. He played 86 minutes as we beat Telford 3-1, then got five minutes at the end of our 4-3 win against Chesterfield. That was October 03, but he had to wait until February 06 for his first start in the league.
Tyrone Thompson (2002/03) v York City
Tyrone Thompson had two spells with the Imps, the second being picture above, during our first National League season. He joined, having only played three senior matches prior to his Imps spell, two against City! He was in the Sheffield United side that beat us 6-1 at Bramall Lane, but who were downed 1-0 by a Marcus Stergiopolous free-kick in the second leg. His loan spell stretched to three games, two in the Trophy.
Mark Camm (2000/01) v Morecambe
Mark Camm played 40 matches for the Imps, 14 of which were starts. He graduated from the Sheffield United youth setup but later agreed on a short-term deal with City. His debut came as we beat Morecambe 3-2, a landmark game for Grant Brown. He played a handful of games during the 2002/03 play-off season, starting the match in which Tyrone Thompson made his debut.
Martin Garratt (2000/01) v Blackpool
Garratt joined us on loan in 2000 and could play at left-back or left midfield. He had served his youth at York City and came with a reputation as a talented footballer with a lot of promise, although he had been sacked by them not long before signing for us. He appeared as we beat Blackpool 3-1, a big result at the time, but it was one of just three matches. His final Imps appearance saw him taken off at halftime, and he left for Hednesford not long after. Garratt passed away at his Middlesbrough home in 2015 at the age of 34 from the effects of prescription drugs and alcohol.
Neale Fenn (1998/99) v Mansfield Town
We were a third-tier side in 1998/99, and the signing of Fenn from Spurs looked like a great move. We also added Alan Marriott and Peter Gain around the same time, both of whom had great Imps’ careers. Fenn didn’t – his solitary start came against Mansfield in the Autoglass Windscreens Shield, after which he dropped to the bench. We then went four games without a goal against Oldham (0-2), Fulham (0-1), Stoke (0-2) and Walsall (0-1). Unsurprisingly returned to Spurs once his loan expired, and he wound up in Ireland with Dundalk.
Steve Williams (1993/94) v Darlington
I always liked the idea of Steve Williams, mainly because he was a Horncastle boy and played for the Imps whilst I went to his old school. He suffered a serious leg break early in his career, which did set him back. One of the few players to score on his debut, coming in an Autoglass Windscreens game against Darlington to earn us a 3-2 win. He also scored in league matches against Wycombe (1-3), and a third goal for City in a 3-3 draw with Scunthorpe in April 1995. Had a shot spell with Mansfield Town.