Agnew’s Angle: You’re History

We’ve all been there, haven’t we, writes David Agnew?

In a pub, club, playground or office. Someone shouting “Yeah….but we’re a big club. Just take a look at our ‘istory.” Well now, firstly, history has an ‘h’ .  Secondly, the fact that you’re now languishing in the Dioadora Championship or whatever division you’re now in, history does not win you games. It does not give you any bragging rights whatsoever. There. I’ve said it. OK.

Now I have addressed those armchair fans, I’m probably not…oh what the hell. Sod it. I’m coming for the supporters of two teams now. For me, anyway, you can only EVER have one team. Just the one. We’re not allowing for the Playschool vernacular here of ‘Big Ted or Little Ted’ or even ‘Medium-sized Ted’. It is one or t’other. Not both. Right?  Is there anyone else I can have a go at? Maybe there’s a little old lady on a mobility scooter, that can puncture the tyres of? No? Well hear me now, as they say,  I’m about to try and prove the history argument wrong for our club.

Lincoln City FC very much falls into the Little Ted configuration of Teds. We have, let’s face it, have not experienced much success. We’ve faced the ignominy of re-applying for permission to play in the football league no less than five times. We’ve been the first team to be relegated from it automatically. We were then grounded and sentenced to another spell in the basement some 14 years later. Despite our barren history, for the majority of our 138-year existence, we have had a few notable periods of success and even for some of these periods the word ‘success’  could be debatable.

Halcyon days

Those lucky to remember the halcyon days of Bill Anderson, when we enjoyed a 6th place finish – now a play-off spot for a chance to win a place in the Premier League, would have been blessed to see us against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. Our chances of beating them in that period, were better then, than now.

Then there was the Graham Taylor years. They started off in somewhat of an average fashion. Yet, he was building something. In the 74-75 season, Lincoln narrowly missed out on promotion. The following year, we all know what happened.

The Colin Murphy years followed, and sadly so did Gilbert Blades’ stewardship of the club. Lincoln had star players like Glenn Cockerell. FA Cup Winners, in consecutive years, Trevor Peake and Fash The Bash (John Fashanu) also featured. Yet, despite being top of the then third tier going into February, in typical Linc  Kamikaze style, we conspired to mess it up.

We did have a flirt with success with John Beck, but I don’t call having your collar felt five minutes before kick-off, by Customs and Excise, a ‘success’. Even though, it did prompt the memorable giggle of “I’ll have a bottle of Becks and a whisky chaser, please?”

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Bizarrely, the next period of success came just after Alan Buckley left the club. No more lecturing the players, just with a jockstrap to cover his blushes, (just ask Paul Mayo about that one). This was when the club was united for the first time in years. United we were. The reason? Administration. This brought fans together in order to save the club. There was harmony across the fan base. Even the old ‘lincoln-list’ email chatter was tolerant, well almost. The Red Imps Community Trust was founded. John Reames bowed out as Chairman and Rob Bradley took over. We had a Mascot too (Poacher). I wonder what happened to him?

Keith Alexander was brought back to manage a club with fewer resources than old Steptoe. And a player budget consisting of a few old buttons and a bit of frayed string. We were the favourites to be relegated and we ended up losing the play-off final in Cardiff. Within a very short period of time, we were out of administration. Not long after that we were out of the league.

Then some blokes from Essex came along to try and reverse the mess that a fellow Essex man made. We all know the story from there. This arguably led to our most successful period since, well, ever! Yes, controversial I know. In terms of trophies, we scooped three in three seasons, and graced the hallowed turf of Wembley for the first time ever! That is like well, like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We were hotter than one of Doreen Ashton’s tea urns.  Previously I thought a good season was winning the Lincolnshire Senior Cup.

We are still in our most successful period, I believe. Yes, we aren’t as high as we were last year. Yet, remember, we are Little Lincoln. We have been kicking around the lower leagues for all of our history, barring those few seasons with Guvnor Bill. We are not happy unless we get to shout and behave like rabid animals at our players, manager and board.

Two Essex blokes – Graham Burrell

Big Ted clubs, as people refer to them, also go on about their history. Their God-given right for success. Their right to spend anything they want…until…… runs out, or has been ‘accounted’ for in a different way, by people who may drink at the Winchester Club. “Evening Arthur!” Ahem.

They are so different from us Imp fans. They expect success. We expect failure. We almost need the misery and failure. That’s us. That’s what we are about. So it’s bizarre when, in our voyage as Imp fans, success comes our way. We stop. We stammer. We must be dreaming. This can’t be happening to us. Start the car. The misery is over. Isn’t it?  Well maybe. I still hear, to this day, people wishing for the old days. No queues for the bar etc. Choose where you sit, water in the toilets to wash your hands at half-time. That’s our history.

It’s important, history. It’s where we’ve come from, it is in our DNA.(sorry Danny) It is not where we are going. Our history tell us what mistakes we made in the past. It doesn’t and shouldn’t define our future. We need to look at our history to remind us of the good and not so good days. The latter outweighs the former. That’s why when we get a golden period; we need to grasp it, nurture it and work on becoming a Medium-sized Ted and then a big Ted. You know, everyone, we can dream! It is allowed.

Unit next time. Up The Imps.