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Pride at Stake
Pride at Stake

Reflections on Lincoln

By: Chris Smith
Date: 24/11/2009

IT was a strangely subdued start to derby day. Goolemariner and I met up in Thorne before picking up Glynn, who unfortunately lives in Scuntland, at the Trent Port near Gainsborough for a top drawer bit of nosh before the game.

The main topic of discussion was the fact that, for the first time any of us could remember, it was pay on the gate. We'd already got our tickets to save a couple of quid but were wondering what the gate might be before stating at what score we would leave at.

I can't say this was a game that I could call the score. For some reason, probably the Imps’ injuries, I thought we might pull off a win, though I kept this quiet, never one for being ridiculed. I don't get as fired up for games against Lincoln as I used to against Wendy, my favourite old rivals if you know what I mean, although there is normally an added edge on matchdays. My best memories of games against the Imps were in the 1989/90 season, when after a couple of years working virtually every Saturday, I saw the 1 1 draw away and the 1 0 home win which featured in a half page article in the Independent when a lot was made of the volume of the Chip Butty song emanating from the Pontoon. It was also our seventh win out of seven which had cemented us into second place in Division 4 and eventual promotion.

In my thirty years as a Town fan, we've only played City in the league in Division 4, and as I've been fortunate enough to see us spending most of our time in the second tier, they weren't really on my radar until 2004. In 1982/3, I saw us lose 4 0 at home to them in the Lincolnshire Cup and I think we lost there in the Football League Trophy. Unbelievably, we used to run football special trains to games in these competitions. Lincoln came close to promotion to Division 2 in the early 1980s, being edged out by Fulham and that would have been fine by me so long as we maintained our status which we did.

I did see Lincoln a few times in the Conference in the 1987/8 season when they boasted the likes of Bobby Cumming and Batchy, I think. It’s a bit misty. The first game of that campaign I saw was at Wealdstone in autumn 1987. I had a rare Saturday off courtesy of being taken off my duties by a decent employer after being relieved of the takings by a couple of t***s with a sawn-off shotgun a few days earlier. I didn't know what game to take in, spoiled for choice as I was in London, so, living up the road in Edgware and having a bit of Lincolnshire interest, I got a short bus journey to Harrow and ensconced myself in a pub that I regularly did a dozen pints of snakebite in on Friday evenings. It was a drab goalless draw in a game noted for the number of riot vans in an astounded Harrow high street. I enjoyed the day out though, in a week I'll never forget.

Whilst much has been made of trouble at games in the previous few seasons, City had a mob called the Lincoln Transit Elite in the eighties and had made their presence felt in the Conference, particularly at rivals to be, Barnet and hence the police presence at Wealdstone. Whilst I can't condone organised football violence, I always thought that was an excellent name for a firm. I watched City’s results with interest as they vied for the title, going top only in the last week and therefore setting up a derby against relegated Town in 1988/9. I remember ringing someone for the result in a pub in Reading, where I'd moved to and being really pleased about that. I had also seen the Imps at Fisher Athletic on Good Friday 1988 which I had off, there being no racing on this day. It was an unremarkable day and a one all draw football wise but my brother Tony and I had a good lunchtime drink in South London and an even better one afterwards. This was at the Goose and Firkin in Borough High Street, where in addition to Dogbolter for him, and real scrumpy for me, the entertainment was a football loving MC whose musical turn was a chorus of “David Pleat’s a pervert na na na na ooh” as said pundit had recently been done for kerb crawling.

One other thing I've never forgotten is what passed for a toilet at Fisher. Needless to say it made the one that Renton dives down in Trainspotting look like it had been scoured by Kim and Aggie. We had to divest ourselves of the lunchtime lager in careful stages so we didn't end up wearing its contents.

I wondered if Saturday would be as memorable...

The article continues in Part Two

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