As you may know by now, Mark Bonner has been sacked as manager of Cambridge United today (updated article from Darrell Clarke’s sacking in April).
Like me, many immediately thought of us as the manager killers, but are we? Does Lincoln City have a track record of losing managers their jobs? Or is it a fallacy? Statistically speaking, are we likely to tip a manager over the edge, and if so, what is it about Sincil Bank that acts as such a curse?
Well, I’ve been crunching the numbers to find out. Firstly, let’s look at the managers who have lost their job either with Lincoln as their final opponents or within a week of playing the Imps.
Shaun Derry, Cambridge United – February 9th 2018
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) February 9, 2018
STATEMENT | Shaun Derry Leaves Cambridge United by Mutual Consent.
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) February 9, 2018
Many of you cited Kevin Nolan as the first example, but in actual fact, Shaun Derry lost his job during our first season back in the Football League. It came after a miserable 0-0 draw with Cambridge, one in which James Wilson broke his ankle if I recall.
Coming into the Imps game, Derry had won two, drawn three and lost five of his ten previous matches, and his side were 15th on 38 points, 11 behind the Imps in ninth. Within hours of the game finishing, he’d been relived of his duties.
Kevin Nolan, Notts County – August 26th, 2018
FULL-TIME: Lincoln 3-1 #Notts
The Magpies suffer defeat at Sincil Bank. https://t.co/a0MZn4G69O
— Notts County FC (@Official_NCFC) August 25, 2018
Notts County Football Club have today parted company with manager Kevin Nolan. https://t.co/eG2misBr2O
— Notts County FC (@Official_NCFC) August 26, 2018
Next up is Kevin Nolan, a man who went from hero to zero in rapid quick time. He took County to the play-offs the season before, and had overseen them taking four points from us. When we saw them early on our fixture list, it felt like it would be a pivotal game.
Nolan did have a decent result in the cup against Middlesbrough, a draw followed by elimination on penalties, but in the league, it was three defeats and a draw, leaving them bottom. We had three wins and a draw, leaving us top. Lee Frecklington, Bruno Andrade and Harry Anderson all scored to give us the win, and Nolan was sacked days later.
Paul Scholes, Oldham Athletic – March 12, 2019
58' The Imps double their lead through Danny Rowe with a curling effort from distance.
🔴 2-0 🔵 #oafc
— Oldham Athletic (@OfficialOAFC) March 12, 2019
— Oldham Athletic (@OfficialOAFC) March 14, 2019
Same season, another former England international, another departure after playing the Imps, although this one was voluntary.
Scholes lasted seven matches as Oldham manager, winning his first 4-1, but then not picking up another win. He was always struggling against the Imps, top of the table at the time, and Harry Toffolo’s goal put them behind before Jose Baxter was sent off. Danny Rowe capped the score off, and Scholes walked with Oldham 13th on 48 points.
Jack Ross, Sunderland – October 8th, 2019
Appleton's first win as Imps boss ✔️
First league win over @SunderlandAFC since 1959 ✔️
Sincil Bank all-time all-seater attendance record ✔️
A famous afternoon at Sincil Bank! 🙌
— Lincoln City FC 🇺🇦 (@LincolnCity_FC) October 5, 2019
📰 #SAFC announce this afternoon that it has terminated the contract of manager Jack Ross.
Full story… 👇https://t.co/rua4kO5nHa
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) October 8, 2019
Jack Ross might be considered unlucky to have lost his job after the Imps defeat in October 2019. The Mackems had lost one in 13 in all competitions and started the day fifth, two points behind second-placed Wycombe with a game in hand.
Tyler Walker cared not for that. His brace sank the Wearsiders, and Ross paid with his job not long after. Ironically, the day he left, they played Lincolnshire’s second club, Grimsby, in the EFL Trophy and won 3-2.
Nigel Clough, Burton Albion – May 18th, 2020
📅 𝙊𝙏𝘿 | On this day in 2020, the Imps beat Burton Albion 3-2.
It was also the last time the LNER Stadium was packed with Imps before football moved behind closed doors for the 20/21 season.
— Lincoln City FC 🇺🇦 (@LincolnCity_FC) March 7, 2022
❗️ BREAKING NEWS: Nigel Clough steps down as Brewers manager
Jake Buxton to become player/manager
— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) May 18, 2020
This is a bit of a cheat, but technically, we did ‘cost’ Clough his job. Our win against them in March 2020, courtesy of Tom Hopper’s first goals for the club and an Anthony Scully strike, was his last match in charge of the Brewers.
Of course, Covid played a huge part and he didn’t actually leave until a few months later, of his own accord. he was replaced by Jake Buxton, which brings me on to….
Jake Buxton, Burton Albion – December 29th, 2020
— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) December 26, 2020
BREAKING: Burton Albion can confirm manager Jake Buxton is to leave the club.
We would like to thank Jake for his hard work throughout his time at the club. More to follow.#BAFC
— Burton Albion FC (@burtonalbionfc) December 29, 2020
Two wins in 25 matches – that was Jake Bixton’s record when he brought his Burton Albion side to the Bank on Boxing Day, 2020. They were soundly thrashed 5-1, and it seemed as though the writing was on the wall – they were rock bottom of the division, and we were top.
Just four days later, Wigan put four past them, and he paid for it with his job. The result? No new manager bounce, as they were hammered 5-1 by Oxford on New Year’s Day. How they pulled themselves out of that mess, I’ll never understand.
Nigel Adkins, Charlton Athletic – October 21st, 2021
Defeat on the road.
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) October 16, 2021
Charlton Athletic can confirm the departure of Nigel Adkins as the club’s Manager.
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) October 21, 2021
We all love a good rendition of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’, even when it is aimed at one of football’s nice guys, Nigel Adkins. Both us and Charlton were darkening the bottom ten in League One when this fixture rolled around. Neither side were great – Jayden Stockley gave us the lead with an own goal, and Sam Lavelle levelled not long after. Charlton, with one defeat in four going into the game, thought they were heading for a point, before Regan Poole won it at the death.
It did take a 3-2 defeat against Accrington a couple of days later to tip Adkins over the edge, but by the time they faced Sunderland the week after this game, he was gone.
Darrell Clarke, Port Vale – April 17th, 2023
— Port Vale FC (@OfficialPVFC) April 15, 2023
Club Statement | Port Vale part company with manager Darrell Clarke
Andy Crosby will take charge of the first team, on an interim basis until the end of the 2022/23 season. #PVFC
— Port Vale FC (@OfficialPVFC) April 17, 2023
Wherever Darrell Clarke is right now, he’ll be lamenting David Rock’s performance, no doubt. Had Tom Conlon not been sent off, a decision since rescinded, they wouldn’t have been beaten in this game. They were, and he’s been fired with just five matches to go.
Mark Bonner – Cambridge United – 29th November 2023
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) November 28, 2023
Cambridge United have today parted company with Head Coach Mark Bonner.
— Cambridge United FC (@CambridgeUtdFC) November 29, 2023
Mark Bonner lost his job as Cambridge boss just hours after the Imps’ 3-0 win at the Abbey Stadium. He’s the latest manager to fall foul of the so-called Lincoln City curse, and there are a couple of parallels worth noting – he’s the second Cambridge manager to be sacked after a game against the Imps at the Abbey Stadium, and the second manager to lose his job after playing against Lincoln in a game officiated by David Rock. Perhaps the referee is the curse!
Manager gone within a month of playing Lincoln
Now, there are plenty of instances of managers getting the sack within a month of playing the Imps. In 2016/17, Andy Bishop -(Southport) was fired not long after we hammered them 4-0. Gary Mills (Wrexham) and Gary Brabin (Tranmere) both also left their roles not long after an Imps game – Brabin within a week, but with two matches after.
In 2018/19, Mark Yates (Macclesfield) left after a City win, whilst Frankie Bunn (Oldham), Neil Aspin (Port Vale), and Darren Way (Yeovil) all lost their jobs within a month of coming up against City.
Kevin Bond (Southend) was the first to go in 2019/20, with a 4-0 thrashing at the Bank fresh in his memory, whilst Simon Grayson (Blackpool) saw his team beaten 1-0 in January, and he was gone a couple of weeks later.
In 2020/21, Glynn Hodges (AFC Wimbledon) and Keith Curle (Northampton) both went not long after facing City. In 2021/22, it was Lee Johnson (Sunderland) and Richie Wellens (Doncaster), whilst Liam Rosenior (Derby) left his job less then a month after their 2-0 defeat at our place this season.
Are we job-killers?
Are we job-killers? When I originally did this article, the answer was no, but actually Mark Bonner’s sacking improves the numbers in our favour.
Since 2016, 70 managers in leagues we’ve competed in have lost their jobs by either resigning or being sacked. I haven’t included those who went in pre-season, nor those who went to take over other jobs. Assuming that there are 23 teams it could have been who played them, it means there’s a 4.3% chance that you’re the team that tips a manager over the edge.
Now, we have lost nine managers their jobs as outlined above, but three don’t technically count – Buxton and Adkins (as other teams played them after) and Clough (obviously). So, that’s just six managers who’ve lost their jobs from a potential pool of 70. Now, my maths isn’t good, but I think that is around 8.5% – double the average.
Back in April, that number was around 3.2% – less than average.
These are rudimentary numbers, and even a so-called maths teacher I checked with couldn’t really be sure. It looks like Bonner’s sacking does make us job killers, but to maintain that we’d probably have to get another boss the sack. There’s also the Kennedy factor – he is one of the managers sacked this season, so is on the list to make the numbers right, but technically we didn’t get him the sack.
Still, it was a nice article to bring back some memories, wasn’t it?