Focus On: Lincoln City

Last updated : 03 January 2015 By Jaybee

Lincoln City were formed in 1884, though there had been a team playing in Lincoln since the early 1860’s. In 1887, City won their first trophy, the Lincolnshire Senior Cup. That season, they also reached the last 16 of the FA Cup beating Middlesbrough 2-0 in the 2nd round, after a replay, Gainsborough Trinity 1-0 in the 3rd round, again after a replay. They received a bye in the 4th round and went out to Glasgow Rangers in the 5th round, Scottish clubs being eligible for the FA Cup in those days. In 1889/90, the Imps reached the last sixteen of the FA cup again. They beat Chester 2-0 in the 1st round, before losing 4-0 to Preston North End in the 2nd round.

!892 was a big year for the club as they turned professional and won the Lincolnshire Senior Cup again. They were also made founder members of the Football League’s second division which was made up of 12 clubs. The Imps finished 9th in their first season in the league, improving in the following season to 8th in a division that had expanded to 15 clubs.

In 1895, the club, who had been playing at the John O‘Gaunts ground moved to their current ground, Sincil Bank. Two years later, the club finished bottom of the Second Division, gaining just 12 points from 30 matches. However, their league performances improved after that and in 1902, the club finished 5th, which, even now, is their highest ever placing in the football league.

The club now seemed to be a stable Second division side, but in 1907, the club finished second from bottom and the following season, things got worse as they finished bottom, only gaining 21 points from 38 matches in a division that now boasted 20 clubs. They lost their place in the league along with Stoke City and joined the Midland Counties League. They won the league in their first season in 1909, also winning the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy and were re-elected to the Second Division of the Football League.

In 1910, they finished 15th in the Second Division, but the following season, they again finished bottom and lost their place in the league for the second time. In 1912, they won the newly formed Central league, which was later to become a reserve league for Midland and Northern football league clubs and were once more re-elected back to the Second Division finishing 8th in 1913. The following season, the club slumped to 19th, second from bottom but recovered to finish 16th in 1914/15 the last season before the end of the First World War.

In the first season following WW1, Lincoln finished second from bottom of League Two and they again lost their league place. The Following season, their trend towards ‘yo-yoing’ in and out of the league continued as they won the Midland Counties League and in 1921 they became founder members of the Football league Division Three (North). In their first season back in the league, they finished 14th.

For the next few years, the Imps made little impact in this new division, though they did finish 8th in 1925. However, in 1927/28, Lincoln finished as runners up to Bradford Park Avenue, but failed to win promotion as, in those days, only the Champions of the two regional third divisions were promoted to the Second Division of the Football League.

The next two seasons saw top six finishes for the Imps and they went even closer to promotion in 1931, finishing runners up again, this time to Chesterfield and missing out by just a point. Happily, the club didn’t have to wait long for promotion, winning the Division Three (North) title just a year later, on goal average from Gateshead.

In their first season back in Division Two, after a gap of 12 years, Lincoln struggled somewhat finishing just 18th and in 1933/34 they finished bottom and were relegated along with Millwall.

Lincoln finished 4th in Division Three (North) in both the next two seasons and in 1936/37, they were runners up for the third time, this time round to Stockport County. However, in the last season before the outbreak of World War II, the Imps had slumped and they finished just 17th.

On the resumption of fixtures following WWII, in season 1946/47, Lincoln finished 12th in Division 3 (North), but the following season, the Imps were champions, clinching the title with a win over Hartlepool. Manager, Bill Anderson had built a championship winning side for the princely sum of £2,000!!

Unfortunately, the Imps had not got over their tendency to ‘yo-yo’ between divisions and the following season they finished bottom of Division Two with just 28 points. Two top 5 finishes back in Division Three followed before the Imps again won the Division Three (North) title in 1952. Lincoln recorded their biggest ever win by defeating Crewe Alexandra, 11-1, Andy Graver, top scorer for the season with 36 goals, scoring six in this match.

This time, Lincoln were to remain in the Second Division for a much longer period. The club finished 15th in their first season back in the second tier, rarely rising above mid table, though in 1956, they finished 8th. In 1957/58, they looked doomed to relegation, but they won all their last six matches to escape by a point. However, in 1961 the Imps finished bottom with just 24 points and were relegated to the Third Division, which by this time was not split into two regional sections, a new, Fourth Division having been established in 1958.

Things went from bad to worse as the following season, Lincoln finished third from bottom of the Third Division and suffered their second consecutive relegation and found themselves in Division Four for the first time in 1962.

And things didn’t get much better. In the 1962/63 season, a feature of which was the long cold winter which saw many games postponed, the Imps finished third from bottom and had to seek re-election as they finished in the bottom four of the league. The following season saw a big improvement as Lincoln finished 11th. However, the next three seasons saw the club having to seek re-election each season, the club finishing bottom in 1967. In 1967/68, thankfully they improved to finish 13th. That season also saw the club record their record ever crowd, 23,196, against Derby County in a 4th round League Cup match. This record still stands today.

In 1971, the club had to seek re-election again and this prompted the appointment of anew manager, one Graham Taylor, a former player at the club. In his first season, the Imps missed out on promotion by just one point. In 1975, they missed out only on goal average, but the following year, Lincoln stormed to the Fourth Division championship, winning by six points. The following season, Taylor achieved a healthy 9th in the Third Division but then left the club for Watford, taking them to the First Division and eventually ending up as England manager.

In 1979, while Taylor was taking Watford to their second successive promotion, Lincoln finished bottom of the Third Division with just 25 points.

However, new manager, Colin Murphy took the Imps back to the Third Division in 1981 as the club finished as Fourth division runners up to Southend. The following season, Lincoln finished 4th in Division Three, only missing out on a second successive promotion by a point. In 1986, Murphy left the club and the club was relegated the following year back to the Fourth Division after finishing bottom of Division Three.

The following season, 1987/88, worse was to follow when Lincoln gained the unenviable record of being the first club to be automatically relegated from the league into the Conference after finishing bottom of Division Four. On the last day of the season, Lincoln lost at Swansea, while rivals Torquay and Burnley (how times have changed!) both won their matches.

Given the way that Lincoln have tended to ‘yo-yo’ from one division to another, it was no surprise that the Imps, back under the management of Colin Murphy, were promoted back to the football league at the first time of asking, finishing two points above runners up, Barnet.

In their first season back in the league, the Imps finished in 10th place. Following their return to the Football League, Lincoln became a steady club in the 4th tier (renamed Division 3 following the introduction of the Premiership in 1992) for a number of seasons only rarely threatening to make the play-offs.

However, in 1998 they finished 3rd and were promoted to Division 2 (the old Third Division, now League One). The club had been managed by John Beck but he was sacked two months before the end of the season and replaced by his assistant, Shane Westley. The Champions that season were Notts County, captained by one, Ian Hendon!! However, once again, their stay was short as they finished second from bottom in Division 2 the following season and were relegated.

On returning to Division 3, Lincoln’s performances slumped and by 2002, they finished 22nd, two places off of the bottom. However, former Barnet striker, Keith Alexander, in his second spell as Lincoln manager, took the club to the play-offs the following season, an achievement that, unfortunately for the Imps, they were to repeat over the next four seasons as Lincoln failed on each occasion to either win automatic promotion or to win the play-offs. Definitely, a case of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’.

In 2007/08, the club finished 15th in the now renamed, League Two and in 2008/09, they finished 13th. In 2009/10, under new manager, Chris Sutton, the Imps had another disappointing season finishing in 20th place in the table, just one place above Barnet. The following season, following a disastrous end to the season, the Imps lost their league status after losing 3-0 at home to Aldershot in the last match of the season and needing a win to guarentee safety. Barnet were of course the team that benefitted from this after beating Port Vale 1-0 to save themselves from relegation.

Lincoln have struggled in the Conference finishing just 17th in 2012 and in 2012/13, the club only did slightly better finishing in 16th place. Last season, the Imps finished 14th.

The two clubs have met before on a number of occasions in the Football League, but  they first met when the two clubs were in the GM Vauxhall Conference following Lincoln City's relegation from Division 4 in 1987.

Barnet won 4-2 at Underhill with a hat trick from Dave Sansom and one goal for Nicky Evans. The return, at Sincel Bank, ended 2-1 to Lincoln with Kevin Millett scoring for the Bees. At the end of the season, Lincoln pipped Barnet to the title and returned to the Football League. For a more detailed look at this season and the rivalry between Lincoln and Barnet during the season, see the Barnet Mad archive article on the 1987-88 GM Vauxhall Conference season.

The clubs first met in the Football League in season 1991/92, following Barnet's promotion from the Conference the previous season. Barnet did the double over the Imps, winning 6-0 at Sincel Bank, Nicky Evans, Roger Willis and Frank Murphy scoring once, Gary Bull twice with the other goal, an own goal. A Gary Bull goal was enough for Barnet to win 1-0 when the two clubs met at Underhill.

The following season, 1992/93, Lincoln won 4-1 at Sincel Bank, with Derek Payne scoring for Barnet, while the match at Underhill ended 1-1 with Mick Bodley scoring for the Bees. At the end of the season, Barnet were promoted to the, now renamed, Division 2, but were relegated back to Division 3 after just one season.

In 1994/95, meetings between the two clubs resumed and Barnet, once more, did the double over Lincoln, winning both matches 2-1 with Dougie Freedman and Mark Cooper scoring at Lincoln and Freedman and Paul Wilson scoring at Underhill. The following season, 1995/96, saw Barnet do the double over Lincoln again, winning 3-1 at Underhill, Freedman scoring twice and Cooper scoring once and winning 2-1 at Sincel bank, Sean Devine scoring both the Barnet goals. 

Both matches in the 1996/97 season were won 1-0 by the home side, Jamie Ndah scoring the Barnet winner at Underhill. In 1997/98, the match at Underhill finished goalless, while Lincoln won 2-0 at Sincel Bank. Lincoln were promoted at the end of the season. 

Lincoln were relegated back to Division 3 after just one season and the two clubs met again in season, 1999/00. The match at Sincel Bank ended goalless, while Barnet won 5-3 at Underhill, the Bees' goals coming from Robbie Sawyers, Warren Hackett, John Doolan, Ken Charlery and an own goal.

In 2000/01, Barnet won an amazing match at Underhill 4-3 after having been 3-0 down at one point. Barnet's goals came from Stuart Niven, Warren Goodhind, Tony Richards and Omar Riza. For a more detailed account of this match, see the Classic Encounter article on Lincoln City on the Barnet Mad website.

The following April, Lincoln won 2-1 at Sincel Bank with Barnet in freefall and on their way to relegation to the Conference at the end of the season. John Doolan score the Bees' goals.

The two clubs didn't meet again until Barnet returned to the league in 2005 after winning the Nationwide Conference. The league's fourth tier was now named League Two. Lincoln did the double over Barnet for the first time in 2005/06, winning 4-1 at Sincel Bank, Giuliano Grazioli scoring for Barnet and coming back from 2-0 down at Underhill to win 3-2. Ben Strevens and Tresor Kandol scored for the Bees.

The following season, 2006/07, Lincoln did the double over Barnet again, hammering the Bees 5-0 at Underhill and then winning 1-0 at Sincel Bank. In 2007/08, Lincoln beat Barnet for the sixth time in succession, winning 4-1 at Sincel Bank, Adam Birchall scoring for the Bees. In March 2008, Barnet beat Lincoln for the first time since returning to the football league, winning 5-2 at Underhill, Adam Birchall scoring twice and Albert Adomah, Anthony Thomas and Max Porter scoring one apiece.

In 2008/09, Barnet lost 2-0 at Sincel Bank, their fifth successive defeat away at Lincoln. However, Barnet won 3-2 at Underhill thanks to a late John O'Flynn goal, his second in the match. The other Bees' goal came from Albert Adomah.

The two clubs met at Sincil Bank on the opening day of the 2009/10 season with the Imps winning 1-0. In the match at Underhill, Barnet lost to a last minute goal as the Imps ran out 2-1 winners. Ismail Yakubu scored for the Bees.

In 2010/11, Barnet lost 1-0 away at Lincoln city, but won 4-2 at Underhill with 2 goals from Steve Kabba, 1 from Izale McLeod and one from Mark Hughes. Barnet wee 3-0 up at half time but Lincoln scored twice early on in the second half and were then awarded a penalty. Jake Cole saved Ashley Grimes’ penalty and the Bees went on to win 4-2 and it turned out to be a vital penalty save as a last day of the season win at home to Port Vale coupled with the Imps losing 3-0 at home to Aldershot saw the Bees stay up.

Last season, both matches ended in draws; 1-1 in September at Underhill with Lincoln equalising at the death after Keanu Marsh-Brown had put the Bees ahead with a stunning solo goal and 3-3 at Sincil bank on the last day of the season when it was Barnet’s turn to score in the last minute through Jake Hyde to make the score 3-3. Ahmed Abdulla, from the penalty spot, and iffy Allen got the other Barnet goals. Earlier this season, the Imps won 2-1 at the Hive, Marsh-Brown scoring for the Bees.

Players who have played for both Barnet and Lincoln City include the following:

Albert Jarrett joined Barnet from Gillingham in the summer of 2009 and made 51 appearances for the Bees scoring 2 goals, including the winner on the final day against Rochdale which confirmed the Bees’ League Two safety. He was voted most improved player of the year by the Supporters’ club but was surprisingly released by the club on a free transfer and joined Lincoln City.

Ben Wright had a trial with Barnet in the summer of 2007 and scored in a pre-season friendly at Northwood and was offered a contract by Paul Fairclough but chose to join Lincoln City instead. He scored 17 goals in two seasons for the Imps before joining Macclesfield in 2009. He currently plays in New Zealand.

Robert Burch was on loan from Tottenham to Barnet in 2007 and made six appearances in goal for the Bees. He joined Lincoln City in July 2007 from Sheffield Wednesday and made 100 appearances for the Imps before joining Notts County in 2010.

Greg Pearson was on loan at Barnet from West Ham at the end of season 2003-04 when the Bees made the Nationwide Conference play-offs. He made 2 starts, plus 8 appearances as a substitute and scored 1 goal on his debut at Gravesend. He had a short spell on loan at Lincoln the following season scoring 1 goal from 1 start and 2 substitute appearances. He played last season for Nuneaton Town.

David Stephens joined Barnet from Hibernian in September 2012 and has made 94 first team appearances for the Bees, scoring 2 goals. He had a loan spell with Lincoln City in 2010 while at Norwich City.

Anthony Pulis played for both Lincoln City and Barnet while on loan from Southampton He played for the Imps in 2009/10, making 8 appearances and made 4 appearances for the Bees in 2010/11, getting sent off in his first game at home to Torquay United.

Jude Stirling had a short spell with Lincoln City in 2006 after joining from Oxford United but failed to start a game for the Imps and joined Peterborough later that year. He had a loan spell with the Bees in 2011 from MK Dons and made 6 appearances for Barnet.

Nicky Nicolau joined Barnet from Swindon Town in 2006 and made 98 appearances for the Bees, scoring 4 goals before moving to Woking in 2009. He joined Lincoln in 2011 from Dover and made 46 appearances, scoring 1 goal. He was released in the summer of 2013 and currently plays for Chelmsford.