Lincoln City are now very close to their goal of promotion to League Two as National League champions. Manager Danny Cowley has done wonders for the Lincoln as he did at his previous clubs. He is one to watch for the future, although Lincoln will be clinging onto his services for dear life!
I went to University in Lincoln so the club is special to me. In 1999 I remember watching Lincoln vs Peterborough and recall excellent performances by two very young Peterborough players, both who went on to have great Premiership careers.
Simon Davies, best known for his successful spell at Spurs and Matthew Etherington, who joined Spurs in the same deal were excellent that day. Etherington was later sold to West Ham and then Stoke City, making over 150 appearances for each club before retiring in December 2014.
Etherington’s well-documented gambling problems are arguably as well-known as what he did on the pitch. Davies had an excellent career with Spurs and Wales and was a lynchpin of the Spurs midfield for many years.
But back to Lincoln. After university and a brief spell back in the North East I returned to Lincoln and lived there from February 2003 to July 2005. Lincoln made the League Two playoffs in both 2003 and 2005, unfortunately losing on both occasions. I made the trip to Cardiff International Stadium for both finals. Despite the results, I loved the experience.
Fast forward 15 years and it’s been great to see Lincoln finally enjoying some success and featuring on BT Sport on many occasions. Coupled with their historic run to the FA Cup quarter finals it is little wonder they are pulling in record crowds and almost filling Sincil Bank every match. They even gave Arsenal a scare in the biggest match of their history.
The good news for the club is their FA Cup fairytale did have a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to the tune of £2.5 million from prize money and TV revenue. Their many appearances on BT Sport as they attempt to wrap up the National League title will be earning them yet more still.
It’s all a far cry from when I lived in Lincoln when the club was the first to go into administration in early 2002, just a few months before I graduated. I remember marching through the city centre with a bucket to collect money for the club along with hundreds of supporters who travelled from across the country wearing their own club shirts in a real show of sporting solidarity.
I recall creating a poster with my friend Mark criticising ITV Digital. ITV had pulled their sponsorship money which was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of Lincoln staying out of administration, which they formally entered on 3rd May 2002, three weeks before I left University.
As our group and banner was photographed by journalists, a lady stood next to me and asked if she could be in the photo. I said yes but didn’t really look to see who it was. It was only when I saw the photo in the Lincolnshire Echo the following day that I noticed it was the local MP, Gillian Merron.
Many football clubs have since followed Lincoln into administration, accepting the penalties that now come with it, which are severe.
Not many clubs rebound from the financial mire as Lincoln have now done, but for Lincoln it’s taken a great Manager, a successful season, a historic cup run and 15 years. Who knows what the future holds for them, but in football you enjoy the success right now and that’s what the fans are doing.
It’s up to the board to get the strategy right behind the scenes to safeguard the clubs future for as long as possible and make the most from this opportunity.
Good luck to them.