It’s time for the fifth collection of nominees that you, the Stacey West readers, have put forward as the worst Lincoln City signing ever.
Before you scroll down, a repeat of the housekeeping bits that I’ll put on all the group articles. This isn’t just so I can copy and paste it each day to save time either. Honest.
I’m not attempting to say these footballers were bad; some of them had really good careers, appearing in the top flight, European football and even for their country. What we’re looking for is the worst signing Lincoln City made, based on their arrival and their time here. I urge you to remember that; a player we paid big money for is, by definition, a worse signing than some poor lad we grabbed from Northwich when we were skint. A player who didn’t play at all can’t possibly be a worse signing than one who shipped five goals on his only appearance, can he? I guess that’s for you to decide.
Also, for those saying we shouldn’t focus on negatives, this is actually a positive article. I want people to read some of the players’ names on here and perhaps think on when they call this summer the ‘worst window ever’. It really isn’t, and we’ve had some truly awful signings over the last forty years, which is the time period these players have been pulled from. By the way, if I missed your player, my apologies, but everyone put them on different social media channels, not in the website comments and I really haven’t had the time to scour all the different groups. Also, as much as Chris Sutton boiled my wee as well, he just doesn’t count as he was a manager, not a signing.
If you are a player featured on here, please don’t take offence. Look at it like this; I once worked for a company called Timber Stair Manufacturers. I did it during a time of immense emotional turmoil and I felt I’d given it my best shot. To be fair, I was awful, and I’m sure Dave at the company wouldn’t be as bold as to say so. However, the people I served, those whose stairs I measured, would say otherwise. They’d be right, whatever the circumstances. Nobody is saying you were a bad player, just that when you played for Lincoln, someone felt you were (not necessarily me btw).
Also, some of the nominees just don’t deserve to be on the list; today is plenty of evidence of that! Still, I used the nominations I was given and that means today we have leading scorer from a title-winning season here, and one of Keith’s play-off heroes. Anyhow, here are the nine players in Group E. To make it fair, I’ve randomised the groups to include players from across different ages. Have a read, and pick the worst at the bottom. I’ll try to do a group per day and only tot up the results at the end of the voting. I’d say ‘enjoy’, but I doubt you will, somehow.
Dene Cropper 57 Appearances, 3 Goals
Look, that’s not a great return for a striker, a goal every 20 games (give or take), but Dene Cropper is not one of our worst-ever signings. He came out of non-league, for nothing, and played in a team that earned the Imps a first-ever play-off spot. Yes, he was limited and no, he wasn’t a Football League quality striker, but if he gets anything more than zero votes in this group it will be an utter travesty.
Stefan Oakes 47 Apps, 1 Goal
Oakes was another of the Magnificent Seven (I think there’s actually three on the list, not one as I said the other day), and his inclusion is a bit harsh. He arrived with a reputation as a cultured midfield player with a left foot that could ‘peel oranges’ according to Peter Jackson. I hope the players weren’t waiting for them at half time, that’s all I can say. I’m not convinced he was as bad as others on the list, I think his name has been thrown out there because of his reputation, but he did turn in a few decent performances, just not enough and never consistently.
Clarke Keltie 31 Appearances, 0 Goals
Now we’re talking! In truth, Keltie was little more than a journeyman midfielder where he joined us. He had left Rochdale in 2009 and trained with Darlington without earning a deal, before signing for us in early 2010. His short stint earned him a full year’s deal in the summer, but he never really got going and spent as much time out injured as he did on the field. I’m not sure he’s our worst signing of 2009/10, let alone the worst ever, but at least he didn’t win a League title with us.
John Akinde 81 Appearances, 25 Goals
I’m not having this, I’m really not. I get why John’s included; he’s rumoured to be our record signing, and he arrived instead of Tyler Walker, who went to Mansfield that summer. He was a big capture too; he’s bagged 83 goals in three seasons with Barnet before injury. When he did return, he bagged a superb one against us in a 1-1 draw at Underhill. I heralded his signing as a coup and to be fair, he scored one in three in our title-winning season. I know fans never gelled with him, I found him a challenging interview, but our worst-ever signing? Come on, seriously?
Nick Wright 21 Appearances, 2 Goals
Wright scored goals before joining Lincoln, hitting 28 in 87 for Tamworth and 23 in 82 for Kidderminster. That gave him something to live up to at City, expectation which usually accompanies players regarded as poor signings. Yes, he looked like he should score goals, but he didn’t. Let’s not forget only nine of his appearances were starts. He wasn’t a great signing, but like so many today, was he a really bad one?
Sean Newton 80 Appearances, 6 Goals
There’s no way Newton is one of our worst signings; for two years he was one of our best. I really rated him as a player, he was attacking, got goals and seemed committed. Of course, the reason he is here is the way he conducted himself to manufacture a move to Notts County, only for it to collapse, and for his apparent attitude at the club. I can’t get on board with him being on the list, but I can see why he’s ended up here.
Bob Latchford 15 Apps, 2 Goals
Now we’re talking. The saddest thing is many of those voting on this poll (me included) are too young to remember Latchford, so he’s unlikely to get votes. However, if Cropper, newton or Big John get more than any of the next three players, there’s zero justice in the world. Zero. He won 12 England caps with five goals for his country, scored 106 goals in 236 outings for Everton and played in the 1977 League Cup Final, back when the League Cup was more than a reserve team tournament. He finished as leading scorer for clubs seven times before joining Lincoln (Birmingham twice, Everton four times, NAC Swansea once), and won promotion to the Dutch first division with Breda. Lincoln fans don’t remember him quite as fondly as history does.
David Phillips 19 Apps, 0 Goals
During an illustrious career in English football, Phillips played for Manchester Cty, Coventry, Norwich City and Nottingham Forest. He won 62 Wales caps, scoring twice for his country, and to be fair, he was a cracking player. In 1987 he won the FA Cup with Coventry, and later that year the Charity Shield. In 1993 he became Norwich’s record signing, helping them finish third in the Premier League. During his time at Forest, he helped them to promotion to the Premier League and won Player of the Year at the same time. He didn’t do any of that for us; it’s difficult to recall anything he did for us at all.
Steve Foley 16 Apps, 1 Goal
Foley should have done better; much better. He started life at Liverpool but never made a senior appearance for them, despite spending four years with the club between 1980 and 1984. He did have a short loan spell with Fulham, before appearing for Grimsby Town, Sheffield United and Swindon. His best seasons came at Stoke City, where he was a part of the squad that went from the Third Division to the First Division in three seasons. He played 54 times for Stoke in what is now the Championship in 1993/94, but just 16 times for us the following season in what is now League Two. That’s disappointment right there.