Lincoln City v The Netherlands? Yep, It Happened Twice

I love a quirky story that raises the eyebrows and gets people thinking. I also love a bit of Imps history, so whilst struggling with illness this Christmas, I’ve been going through old books, programmes and the like to brush up on my Imps history.

Amazingly, I have found out that less than 100 years ago, the Imps faced off against the actual Netherlands international team. It seems crazy now to imagine Ethan Erhahon and Ethan Hamilton attempting to keep tabs on Georginio Wijnaldum or Frankie De Jong, but it did happen once upon a time.

The first game City played on Dutch soil was against their B team in January 1936. The Imps arranged a mid-season friendly through Bob Glendenning, a former Barnsley and Bolton player who coached for the Dutch FA. On that occasion, City lost 4-2 but had a ‘rough trip’ over from Harwich. 6,000 supporters watched the game, and it seemed like a diplomatic success.

Best wishes were exchanged after the game, and the Imps clearly made an impression in Rotterdam. The Dutch side were no slouches either – Pier Punt was a member of their World Cup team in 1938, whilst Leen Vente had played in the 1934 competition and was to appear again in 1938. Coor Kools scored 100 goals for NAC Breda during his long career, whilst Manus Vrauwdeunt was a three-time Eredivisie winner with Feyenoord during a 16-year stint at the club.


Harry Parkes, the Imps manager, remarked that “The Dutch team’s ideas were distinctly good. They were not quite as strong in the shot as the English players, but their combination was good and they showed they are on the right lines.” Quite bold coming from a manager who had just seen his team beaten 4-2! John Campbell and Amos Hill scored for the Imps.


Two years later, the Imps were heading back over to face the Dutch side, and this time, they rolled out the big guns, a full first XI. The 1938 World Cup was on the horizon, and the Dutch would play a single game, going out 3-0 to Czechoslovakia – the competition was a straight knockout back then. Perhaps if they’d played other international teams in the warm-up rather than a Third Division North team from England, they might have fared better.

When City went back over in January 1938, Europe was on the cusp of war. Princess Juliana was about to give birth to Beatrix, so the Netherlands was in a state of celebration, and it was noted the Imps team brought back badges commemorating the occasion.

They didn’t bring back any goals, and the Dutch team were clearly an improvement on the B team. Puck van Heel played, capped 64 times for his country, as did Bas Paauwe, and three-time Eredivisie winner. The big name in the opposition ranks was Kick Smit, who scored for his country in the 1934 World Cup and bagged 26 goals in 29 outings.

The Imps were soundly beaten 5-0, and there’s little news on whether it was a rough crossing. Boss Joe McClelland remarked, “The Dutch team were a revelation to me; it was far better than I expected from them.”

Kick Smit – By Photographer Ben van Meerendonk – Flickr stream IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0,

City are reported to have been competitive in the first half but still went in 2-0 down at the break. The report suggests we were lingering too long on the ball, whilst the Dutch were quick to punish us for such lapses. There was no shame in the defeat – the Dutch had already beaten Newcastle (4-0), Blackburn (4-0), Bournemouth (9-3) and Reading (8-5) in their preparation for the World Cup.

How did the two games affect the Imps? We were hunting promotion, and after the 1936 game, we finished fourth in a division where only the winner was promoted. In 1938, we finished seventh, our fourth top-seven finish is as many seasons. Sadly, after finishing 17th in 1939, the Second World War broke out, and it seems our relationship with the Dutch ended.

That was until Gijsbert Bos signed for City 60 years later, of course.