By Bulldog Drummond
It is, to say the least, interesting to reflect upon the fact that our opponents this weekend were founded two years before Dial Square, who after one match in 1986, then in January 1887 became Royal Arsenal. Indeed the interesting if occasionally inaccurate official website of the club gives a decent chronology of the early era – which is a damn site more than many clubs bother to do.
According to them, there had been a team playing in Lincoln since the 1860s which makes them quite a few years older than Arsenal, because although there are tales of other teams around the Woolwich factories prior to Dial Square, we have no secure evidence of what they actually did and how permanent they were. (If you are interested in the earliest sighting, the story of Selby vs Woolwich United on 2 January 1886 – over 11 months before the generally accepted first Arsenal game – is on the Arsenal History Society website.
But back to Lincoln: they won their first trophy, the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy, in 1886 while according to the standard history, the men from the munitions factories had only just resolved that the club would be open to all employees of the Woolwich Arsenal, rather than just the men working in the Dial Square factory. (If this is the bit of history that interests you, this article about the various factories in the Arsenal site might help). Also at this stage, and relevant to this weekend’s game, Lincoln City reached the Fifth Round in the FA Cup where they lost to Rangers.
Now I hope I am not being too churlish in filling in some of the gaps from the Red Imps site, when I add that although this was an achievement, they did actually get a bye in the 1st Round, got through after replays in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and then got another bye in the fourth round (as did several other clubs because by then so many teams had dropped out). In short they got to the quarter finals by playing two matches. At least this time they have played six rounds to get here.
Lincoln turned professional at about the same time as Royal Arsenal (1891) and in 1892/3 were one of the 12 founder members of the Second Division. The other clubs were: Small Heath, Sheffield Utd, Darwen, Grimsby, Ardwick, Burton Swifts, Northwich Victoria, Bootle, Crewe, Burslem Port Vale and Walsall Town Swifts.
One year later Royal Arsenal gained a place in the second division alongside Lincoln, with Arsenal forced then to change their name to Woolwich Arsenal, as they became a limited company (limited companies are not allowed to use the word “royal” in the title. One year on Lincoln moved to Sincil Bank and drew their first ever league match at the new ground 1-1 with… Woolwich Arsenal.
In 1901/2 Lincoln reached their highest position in the league to date – they came fifth in the second division – Arsenal also had their best season so far in the same year, coming fourth. But at this point, I fear, the Imps have forgotten to do an update on their website for they say, still in relation to 1901/02 “The Imps also reached the last 16 of the FA Cup again – yet another achievement that has remained unequalled since. They eventually lost to Derby County.”
Well guys, you have got further because unless I have miscounted we are now down to the last eight. Last time round however the success in the cup was followed by Lincoln along with Stoke City being relegated out of the League in 1908. Four years prior to that Woolwich Arsenal were promoted to the First Division.
The first ever league match between the two clubs was won 3-0 by Lincoln on 3 February 1894. Woolwich Arsenal returned the compliment beating Lincoln 4-0 two weeks later. The following September Lincoln upped that and beat Arsenal 5-2. One month later at the Manor Ground Arsenal defeated Lincoln 5-2. One might even suspect someone was betting on these scores!
Arsenal’s biggest win came on Christmas Day in 1896 – a 6-2 victory, and the worst defeat was – would you believe it – also on Christmas Day – three years on when Lincoln beat Arsenal 5-0. The last recorded league meeting between the clubs was on 6 March 1915 when Lincoln beat Arsenal 1-0, Arsenal spending their second, and last, season back in the second division after relegation in 1913.
From what I can see this will be the first ever meeting between the two sides in the FA Cup. I am also thinking that this might be the first time since the move to Highbury that we have played two non-league sides in consecutive rounds – but I might be wrong on that one.
Lincoln play in the National League – effectively the 5th Tier of English football. Not only are they four points clear at the top of the league and with the best goal difference in the league they also have a solid balance between home and away performance – although much of their impressive goal difference is built up at home.
|2||Forest Green Rovers||9||8||1||37||21||10||0||5||33||20||+29||65|
|4||Dagenham and Redb’ge||8||3||6||25||23||11||1||5||32||16||+18||61|
However there is one bit of breaking news about Lincoln, and that is that they have just signed two players on loan. Left-back Riccardo Calder and goalkeeper Ross Etheridge on loan from Aston Villa and Doncaster Rovers respectively. Their web site tonight (10 March 5.07pm) is saying…
A former England U17 international, Calder is a product of Villa’s youth and academy system and although he still to make his first team bow, has gained valuable experience during loan spells with Dundee and Doncaster Rovers.
Keeper Etheridge, meanwhile, started out at Derby County and loans with Ilkeston, Gresley Rovers, Leek Town, Crewe Alexandra and Stalybridge Celtic followed before he signed for Accrington Stanley in the summer of 2015. He joined Doncaster 12 months later and recently had a month with Alfreton Town.
Calder will take the number 37 squad shirt and Etheridge will be number 39. Both players have been given permission by their parent clubs to play for City in the Emirates FA Cup and Buildbase FA Trophy.
Now I thought that the rules about loans were changed this season so that they could only be secured in the transfer window. But I am sure they know what they are doing.
More in the next article.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.