The Lights Out Lincoln City XI

This type of article a few years ago could have been written with one tongue in cheek and expected to receive little criticism.

I’m not sure if, in today’s world, there’s an element of distaste about it – I certainly hope not. However, a conversation on social media the other day prompted me to joke that enough former Lincoln City players had spells in prison that we could almost field our own prison team.

That got me thinking, could we? What formation would they have to play? How strong would that team look? Well, you don’t need to wonder anymore because the answer is we could field a Lights Out Lincoln City XI, and even have a sub. Here’s how.

GK: Matthew Ghent

In goal, we have Matthew Ghent, a keeper we borrowed from Aston Villa, who played a single game for us. I remember his game vividly – we were struggling at home to non-league Dagenham in the FA Cup, and after 89 minutes, he was named Man of the Match. As Alan Long announced the fact, Ghent made a howler, letting the ball squirm under his body to send us to defeat. Chris Day was immediately recalled, and he wasn’t seen in a Lincoln shirt again.

In fact, he wasn’t really seen anywhere again, bar Forest Green and Barnsley. He drifted into the non-league game, then, in 2006, he was imprisoned for three months for kicking his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach. In 2013 he admitted harassing his ex-girlfriend and was handed a ten-week suspended prison sentence.

DF: Riccardo Calder

Ex Villa player Riccardo Calder who beat up nurse will have 'no problem' finding club says agent - Birmingham Live

Calder is a bit more recent, and he’s still playing today in the same Brackley team as Imps loanee Jovon Makama. The left-sided defender was clearly brought in to cover Sam Habergham during our promotion run-in of spring 2017, but Sam didn’t get injured, so Riccardo didn’t play much. He made two appearances, one in the FA Trophy against York City and another as we drew 0-0 with Maidstone, the league already in the bag. He later moved to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Championship before his career took a turn.

In November 2018, Calder was found guilty of assault on a 24-year-old woman in an incident in a car park after a night out. He was sentenced to nine months in prison but released after ten weeks hoping to rebuild his career. He’s since bounced around the non-league scene with the likes of Telford and Kettering.

DF: Moses Swaibu

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Moses arrived at the club in 2008 after a trial, having previously been with Weymouth and Bromley. His spell at the end of that year earned him the Young Player of the Year award, club rejected a transfer bid from Birmingham City and Aston Villa, with the defender signing a two-year deal. He went on to make 60 appearances for the Imps in his two-year spell, but Lincoln in January 2011 by mutual consent after we were relegated from the Football League.

In January 2014, Swaibu was charged with conspiracy to defraud, arising from an investigation into match-fixing and an alleged betting syndicate. It was part of the same investigation that included former Imps Delroy Facey and Scott Spencer. On 29 April 2015, he was found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court of conspiracy to commit bribery and jailed for sixteen months

DF: Garry Croft

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Croft played for the Imps at the tail-end of his career, arriving in the tough 2007/08 season, which saw John Schofield sacked. Previously, Croft had played for Ipswich Town, Blackburn Rovers (who paid £1.6m for his services) and Grimsby Town

In 1999, Croft spent one month in prison for driving while disqualified and perverting the course of justice; upon his return in January, he became the first footballer to play whilst wearing an electronic tag.

DF: Paul Casey

Paul Casey served his apprenticeship at Sheffield United and Boston before joining the Imps during our GMVC title-winning season. He became a firm fan’s favourite, with combative and committed displays, and he remains someone held in very high regard around the club. Once his Imps career finished in 1991, he returned to Boston, totalling almost 400 appearances for the Pilgrims across his two spells.

In September 1990, he was involved in an altercation with a man during a night out in Worksop following provocation. He served three months in prison in 1991.

CM: Charlie Hartfield

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Hartfield made his name at Sheffield United, being sent off for an altercation with Eric Cantona, before later moving to Swansea City. At the end of the nineties, as we sought to remain in the third tier, he had a brief spell on loan, playing three games and scoring once. Hartfield suffered a gambling addiction during his playing days, and he continued to be troubled once his playing career finished.

In February 2015, he was jailed for nine years and one month after admitting conspiracy to supply amphetamine and cannabis. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer, completing a three-month course of treatment in December.

CM: Ali Fuseini

Credit Graham Burrell

Steve Tilson brought in Fuseini after four years at Millwall; his first game was a win at Bradford, and he looked like he might be the real deal for the Imps. Sadly, it went downhill from there, and he was a key figure in our dismal relegation in 2011. Steve Tilson was sacked early in our Blue Square Premier spell, which effectively Fuseini’s Lincoln career ended.

Prior to joining us, Fuseini was charged with False Imprisonment and Conspiracy to Rape and stood trial at Blackfriars Crown Court in February 2011 whilst playing for Lincoln. He was found not guilty. He was further arrested after leaving Lincoln in November 2011 for disqualified driving and again on December 5th 2011. He was sentenced to 10 weeks imprisonment for these offences.

CM: Reece Thompson

Thompson served as a youth at City, and rather ominously, he only made a single appearance; as a sub during our 3-1 defeat at Carshalton Athletic. After his release by the Imps, he appeared for Frickley before securing a move into the Football League with York City. He played for North Ferriby during the 2016/17 season, scoring 12 goals, and featured against the Imps as we won 1-0 there.

On 3 April 2019, Thompson was sentenced to a 40-month custodial sentence along with a ten-year restraining order for domestic violence. In February 2020, a month after his release, Thompson was sent back to prison after posting a number of inappropriate tweets in relation to his conviction

FW: Delroy Facey

Credit Graham Burrell

Delroy Facey joined on loan initially under Chris Sutton and he grabbed a Boxing Day winner against Chesterfield which helped him get the fans on side. He returned the following season on a permanent deal to play under Chris Sutton, and although Sutton didn’t last, Facey did. He formed a strong partnership with loan player Ashley Grimes and between the two of them they looked to have fired us to league safety. Unfortunately, Facey got injured in the 1-1 draw with Macclesfield, and Grimes didn’t score again as we went down.

In November 2013, Facey was arrested, along with five others, on suspicion of match-fixing and in  April 2015, he was found guilty of and jailed for two-and-a-half years.

FW Shayne Bradley

Bradley joined City on loan in 2002/03 and started two games. The first was the convincing 3-0 win over Hartlepool, and the second was a solid 1-0 away win at Southend before he picked up an injury. He sat out most of March before hitting a 15th-minute winner in a home tie with Kidderminster Harriers. That proved to be his final professional game; he was withdrawn prior to kick-off against Bristol Rovers a week or so later after a warm-up injury and returned to Chesterfield but was forced to retire without making another senior appearance.

In April 2021, he was imprisoned for two and a half years for stalking a former girlfriend; he was also given a five-year restraining order to prevent him from contacting the victim

FW: Jamie Clarke

Credit Graham Burrell

Clarke signed in June 2009 and was a cult hero from the start having previously scored a hat trick past county rivals Grimsby whilst playing for Accrington. Towards the end of his Imps spell, he started finding the net, one in the FA Cup first round against Telford and then a brace away at Northwich to give us a third-round tie with Bolton. His reward was an omission from the side from early December, and the change of manager left him out in the cold. He left by mutual consent on 29 January 2010 after scoring just one league goal in addition to those FA Cup strikes.

In 2018, Clarke popped up on the news again for rather more sinister reasons; he was jailed for 15 years for kidnap and torture after scalding a man’s genitals with boiling water over a £300k drug deal gone wrong.

SUB: Andy Gorton

Salford-born Gorton played for Oldham before joining Stockport on loan under Colin Murphy in 1986/87. he helped keep them in the Football League (at our expense), and joined them permanently a year later. In 1989, he signed for the Imps, making 24 appearances. He began the 1989/90 season in the sticks, keeping seven clean sheets in nine matches. Ominously, in his introduction in the programme, he claimed the biggest influence on his career was Stella Artois.

After shipping six in two games, he was dropped for Mark Wallington, returning for a four match stint where he conceded another nine. That was that; Gorton was gone.

Although there’s little documentary evidence, it is claimed here he was jailed for arson, although here it was an arrest for having bomb-making equipment, whilst this source says he was arrested for threatening to set fire to a pub when the landlord wouldn’t serve him. It means he just misses out on the first XI, but it seems