It is very true to say that the only League table that counts is the one after every team has completed their fixtures but there is also a view that the table after ten games is an indicator of how the season will develop, writes Gary Parle.
That point arrived for Lincoln, and most other League 2 clubs, after Tuesday’s nights fixtures so based on our previous 108 Football League seasons what is City’s likely finishing point in the table?
In looking at the following figures it is worth pointing out the whilst most teams nowadays will have also played 10 games at the same time as City it wasn’t always the case as shown by the table from our first FL season on December 26th 1892 below when we had played the joint lowest number of games. Despite that we still managed to drop one further place at the end of the season! The mixture of home/away fixtures in the opening ten games isn’t taken into account and the impact of three points for a win which has made it easier to move up (and down) the table than in the two points era as shown by our biggest rises coming since it was introduced in 1981/82 although three of our biggest drops came in the two-point system.
Game ten arrived this season on September 28th but in our first FL season in 1892/93 we didn’t play it until December 26th and in the period up until WW1 the earliest it was reached was October 18th in 1913. With those early seasons comprising between 22 and 38 games it meant more of the season had been completed than post WW1 when apart from two seasons a minimum of 40 games have been played or in the case of 2019/20 PPG used to calculate the table after playing just 35. The earliest it was reached is September 19th 1953.
In 62 of the previous 108 seasons our position after ten games has changed by just one/two/three places higher (17 times) or one/two/three places lower (30 times) and stayed exactly the same on 15 occasions.
On 19 other occasions our final placing has risen by between 4 and 12 places after the final game with the Imps of 2004/05 seeing the biggest surge rising from 18th after game 10 to a final position of 6th. 1981/82 from 15th to 4th and 2005/06 which saw a ten position rise from 17th to 7th are the only two other occasions where we had a positive 10 position rise.
On the negative side we have slumped four places or more on 27 occasions with the most disastrous being in 1970/71 when we were 6th after ten games and finished up 21st and having to apply for re-election. 1985/86 saw a 14 place drop from 7th to 21st and relegation whilst double-figure drops also happened in 1964/65 (10th to 22nd) and 1956/57 (7th to 18th)
City were top of the table in 1912/13, 1930/31, 1935/36 and 1982/83 but failed to maintain that spot finishing 8th, 2nd, 4th and 6th respectively whilst the Imps of 1958/59, 1959/60, 1977/78, 1995/96 and 2007/08 were all in the relegation places after ten games but managed to avoid the drop.
We have twice been 17th at this stage 2005/06 as mentioned above and 1961/62 but that season saw a slump of five places and relegation to Division 4. By a strange quirk in both those seasons our 10th match was against Torquay United losing 3-1 at Sincil Bank in 1961 and 2-1 at Plainmoor in 2005.
History would therefore indicate there is a 57% chance we will finish between 14th and 20th in the final table but as an old saying goes only time will tell.
1912/13 after City had played 10 games
1912/13 and the only table that matters