Memorabilia Corner: 1988 Souvenir Booklet

My mate Dave has a shop, and in that shop, he sells quite cool stuff. There are lots of original Star Wars toys, He-Man toys, books, and all manner of curios and antiquities. There’s also a fair bit of Lincoln City stuff as well.

I’ve had a good browse through it; there are shirts, programmes, magazines and some other football-related stuff as well. He can be found in Wragby Market Place (the shop is next to the Ivy Club, Dave is usually in the Ivy Club) – it’s A Box of Frogs.

Anyway, after that shameless plug (and I’ll keep plugging it while he has cool stuff in), I thought it might be a good time to resurrect memorabilia corner. There’s no game in midweek, the news is slow and I’m currently going through some of my stuff to get a handle on what I have and what I need. It’s mainly just because I bloody enjoy a trip down memory lane.

Today, I pulled out the first bit of Imps-related stuff I got that wasn’t a programme. It’s a souvenir special from 1988, celebrating the promotion back into the Football League. What’s mad is I even remember where and when I got it. Dad bought it for me from Bardney newsagents as we were on our way to swimming at Yarborough Sports Centre on a Friday night. We broke down close to the Rilmac offices near Wickes and never made it to the swimming pool, and I ended up reading this in the back of whatever wreck we were in at the time. Happy days.

Anyway, at £2.50 it was quite extravagant for us (I think I may have preferred 25 packets of stickers at the time, which would have been unwise as we were usually rationed to two packets a week. We never completed an album). It was released to celebrate our return to the Football League in mid-May 1988.

It comes in at 36 pages and unlike many of these publications, it isn’t overly advert heavy. Mine is a little dog-eared, but it still feels quite modern with a gloss, full-colour cover. Inside, the first thing you’re greeted with is John Reames, who introduces the booklet and explains it isn’t just a celebration of our promotion. It isn’t, and it’s why I chose to feature it here.

The first couple of pages have pen pictures of the board of the time, a six-strong collection of names such as Michael Pryor, Geoff Davey and Bob Staples of Staples Packaging.

I love this sort of thing for the history it preserves, and the next couple of pages are a great example of that. it gives an overview of the ground, as it was then, with photographs and a proper layout. To see us penned in between the old railway line and playing fields brings home the constraint even today’s board are working under in terms of expansion.

As a kid, I poured over the next section, the history of the club. It might be why I have such a keen interest in history and the club’s place in the city because I read every bit of this book time and again under my covers at night. I had a decent grasp of where we’d been even as a ten-year-old celebrating my first full season as a supporter!

A lot of thought went into this booklet, it certainly wasn’t something pushed out to make some quick money. There’s an interesting article on how a football club survives, doubtless a question the board has asked itself many times. That was a nice lead into the bulk of the booklet – the GMVC season. Ten pages of pictures, player profiles and records, and some stuff from the man whose mission it was to get us promoted, Colin Murphy.

I think sometimes it is easy to forget the magnitude of Colin returning when he did, given how close we’d come to success under him before. We were 90 minutes from the Second Division at one point, and yet he came back to us as a non-league team and saved the club. Colin didn’t win a Football League honour with the Imps, but his achievements were every bit as good as those of 1976. That certainly comes across in this booklet.

After a few more stats and history bits to satiate my young and hungry mind came something that I found even more interesting today than I did back in 1988. Back then, I wasn’t too bothered about the matchday experience, how the club prepped the ground and that sort of thing, but now, it’s golden content. For me, this is the sort of thing that we don’t see enough of now – printed records of what happens at a club, day-to-day, match-by-match.

This is a great glimpse into the past, featuring not only faces but also practices that are long gone, such as wheeling hot water around the pitch to tea urns! The feature is seven pages long and is complemented by plenty of pictures for a great glimpse into the Imps’ past.

This is a great record of the 1988 season, but perhaps more pertinently a good overview of the club as a whole 35 years ago.

If you wish to own a copy, A Box of Frogs in Wragby did have one in when I was there, amongst plenty of other interesting bits from Nottingham Forest, England and the Imps.