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Lincoln City at the Arsenal: historic coincidences, out of date websites, last minute signings…

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!

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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.

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.

26 comments to Lincoln City at the Arsenal: historic coincidences, out of date websites, last minute signings…

  • Mike T

    In the National League the rules enable the clubs to loan players at any time the only stipulation is that they are not allowed to name more than 5 players on loan in any game
    It’s a vastly different world in non league!

  • Interesting read. Funny scorelines between the two teams-well if we are meeting for the first time in the FA cup,my wish and money will be on(do i need to say it) to progress to the semis for many reasons one of which is to reduce the hostile atmosphere in the stands and many more other reasons.

  • tom

    If Arsene Wenger decides to extend his contract for another 2 years because he thinks that he can take Arsenal back to the top would he forgoe his 20 million salary for those 2 years to prove most fans wrong.I know i would if i already had 100 million sitting in my bank account.He confesses to love Arsenal football club but probably not enough to work for free.

  • blacksheep

    so Tom, you are advocating that AW signs a new contract but works for free to prove he loves the Arsenal. What a curious statement. So you measure ‘love’ in monetary terms? If the rumours and his own statements are true he could have left for more money many times in the past 21 years. Isn’t that love?

  • Zedsaunt

    Mike T posts

    ”It’s a vastly different world in non league!”

    It’s a vastly different world outside of the top four in the EPL!

  • Georgaki-pyrovolitis

    Tom is an Arséne Wenger fan

  • Knobby

    I think I can see where this is all going.
    The anti Arsene will get a new manager (one day) it won’t be the one they want if he fails.
    So they need to blame someone else… Yep Kronkie.
    If the new manager succeeds (I told you so).

    The pro Arsene will get a new manager.. some will stick by him like Wenger, Graham, Neil, Mee etc no matter what,
    If he succeeds they will be quiet.
    If he fails (told you so).
    Fan base still split.
    Who suffers?…Arsenal

  • tom

    If the rumours and his own statements are true he could have left for more money many times in the past 21 years. Isn’t that love?
    What other club could he go to and get 80million pounds wages in the last 10 years and win 2 cups??At barcelona ??At real madrid?? If he had some scorelines against him like hes had this season he would soon be looking for a new job!!!
    He wouldnt of had half the wages he has with arsenal

  • Knobby

    Up to a few years ago, the profit Wenger made in the transfer market paid his wages.

    I know it’s a football club and all that but saleries were bought up which is more like something a business worries about.

  • Knobby

    He made three years wages out of Anelka, one year out of Henry, Four years out of Fabregas, A couple of years out of Nasri, three years from Adebayor.
    So Wenger has been pretty well self sufficient.

  • Menace

    tom – take your rattle & get back in your cradle. You must be more dumb than a five year old to think that in this day & age Wenger would work for free. There are several footballers that should be getting nothing for what they contribute to the team , but Wenger is worth double.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Work for free and show your commitment and truthfulness ? What a delightfully quaint and noble thought . (Pause and snigger here !)
    And I suppose let your God or whichever Big Kahuna you worship take of the daily bills and expenses.
    Now if only we could sell the idea to the masses !

  • Brickfields Gunners


    Alexis Sanchez to show his good faith and commitment to Arsenal by agreeing to play for free for the next year, after consulting and getting the approval of his dogs .

    His dogs have gone on record to say that they are very happy in London , and that the fire hydrants and parks are all so convenient and clean . And the bitches are smoking hot!

    It is a well known fact that the dogs have the final say in every important matter in Alexis’ life, and are the only ‘wags ‘in his life !

    Arsenal fans are not only howling in delirium,but also sniffing in delight!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry …..Big Kahuna you worship take care of the daily bills ….

  • Menace

    LOL Brickfields – must be barking mad!

  • Polo

    First, great article and good to learn more about the club history, thank you Bulldog. Amazing how two clubs who started around the same time but one went on to be one of the world great football club and the other languish in non-league football.

    AW allegedly get paid £8 million a year but he help the Club get around £30 million a year from UCL participation, I guess the club is making a big financial loss. Since all the WOBs say they ‘love’ Arsenal, so maybe they should donate all their money to the club to help pay for ‘world class’ players they say Arsenal should get, since AW and the Board are only in it for the profit and won’t ‘spend some F’ king money’. But I can’t see the WOBs doing that.

    Last season I was told that ‘majority’ of Arsenal fans wanted AW to leave and there was suppose to be a ‘massive’ protest at The Emirates Stadium and according to reports about 500 people or so protested. This season the same occurred, saying ‘majority’ of Arsenal fans wanted AW to leave and there will be a ‘massive’ protest, reports say only about 200 people protest. Could somebody please explain to me what the word ‘majority’ mean? Did they mean the ‘majority’ of the keyboard warriors and arm chair managers that wanted AW to leave? In my opinion, I think the ‘majority’ just want to watch a good football game and are not to concern about the politics of it.

  • Leon


    Re your 11.11pm
    You are of course describing the sick “be careful what you wish for” (BCWYWF) mob.
    This will be their mandate, just you watch.

  • WalterBroeckx

    If the new manager will succeed we will say: it is thanks to the excellent work done by Wenger before him. 😉

  • Zuruvi

    Arsene Wenger is a very, very good manager.
    The current crop of Arsenal players are generally of average ability.
    Chelsea are performing better now than before Abramovitch simply because Abramovitch has chosen to invest some of his personal £9 billion wealth to make his club a success.
    Man City has moved up to being a very good team in recent years because the owner (the super-rich Arab Sheikh) has invested his personal wealth into the club.
    Arsenal on the other hand has failed to move up to the next level since Silent Stan and Usmanov (who jointly have a fortune of more than £18 billion). This failure to invest in buying top players is a choice by Silent Stan and his board and supported by some key contributors to Untold.

    The current pressure that Arsenal faces is simply because many fans are tired of seeing us selling our best players over the last 13 years and buying cheap players (like Sanogo and Elneni) or keeping poor players for too long (Nikolas Bendtner and Almunia).
    Many fans are also tired of the policy of just searching for the cheap players instead of the world-class players. We were asking for a world class striker (and not a false- 9). We also ended up getting an average striker from Spain for about £17m – this striker has so far proven to be not good enough for Arsenal First Team. When Chelsea searched for a striker to replace Drogba, they went to Spain and got Diego Costa. This symbolises our attitude to transfer …. Arsenal goes for the cheap option, Chelsea aims to get the best options.

    If Wenger could get the best players he has the managerial skills to create a title winning team.
    You get what you pay for (in most cases in life).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Where will AW be next season ?

    a. Arsenal
    b. PSG
    C. Barcelona
    d. China
    e. Other

    Please send in you detailed and well thoughtout entries to UA .

  • Brickfields Gunners


    a. Slowly and patiently
    b. Buy ready made WC players
    c. Blend promising youth with experience
    d. Slash and burn regularly
    e. Other

  • Zuruvi

    Definitely NOT option A for me.

    My preference is that the Arsenal owners use their own riches (instead of charging fans the most expensive season tickets) to get top players into our squad.

    I prefer the Barcelona model to the Real Madrid model.
    At Barca they believe in their academy but they also buy the top, top players regularly. Barca has bought great players like Neymar and Suarez even when they had Messi scoring 65 goals per season. They didn’t say we will make Messi a “False 9” and therefore don’t need to buy Suarez.
    At Barca, the youth are given a chance but they don’t hold on to average for below average players for long. They don’t hold on to players just because they are cheap.

    My biggest fear is that our great manager will leave or get sacked (in the form of not getting a contract renewal) simply because he doesn’t have good enough players.
    The Arsenal financial statements always show that we have had the most healthy bank balance compared to most other clubs. We have the 2nd richest owners (after Sheikh Mansoor who owns Man City).

    Our current policy is probably a blend of your options A and C.
    It currently isn’t working. The reason why it isn’t working is simply because the youth coming through are promising but not good enough (yet) to take us to the next level. Many of the bought-in players are of average or good quality but not exceptionally good.
    The result is that we are the only big team in Europe who frequently get blasted 5-1, 5-1, 6-0, 8-2, etc.
    Sadly we are now being taken as a joke by many people.
    I think Wenger is a great man, a great manager and decent human being. He doesn’t deserve to be regularly humiliated by these heavy defeats and all this nasty criticism.

    In my view, if Wenger was allowed to get better players he would make Arsenal into a title winning team. Ancelotti who walloped Wenger 5-1 not once but twice is no better manager than Wenger. The difference is simply that Bayern Munich buys better players and aims to win titles and trophies whereas Arsenal under Kreonke buys cheap players and aims to make it to the Top 4 so the owners can make a profit.

    My fear is that when Wenger leaves Arsenal will drop to a lower level. The owners will then wake up and start investing in the club. But the new manager won’t be as good as Wenger so he won’t give us the success that I think Wenger will give us if he was provided with the required funds to buy top, top players.

    When Wenger first arrived at Arsenal he didn’t take a slowly, slowly approach to change Arsenal’s way of playing and doing things. There’s therefore no harm in “burning” cash to buy the required quality of players. Chelsea and City didn’t go for a slowly, slowly approach to winning the league. No. They bought quality players and won the league. Their fans are not disappointed. If Arsenal decided to buy 3 or 4 players of the quality Suarez and Hazard and Aguerro in the next transfer window, I certainly won’t be complaining that we are not going slowly, slowly in our rebuilding work. Would you?

    There’s my answer. What’s your answer to your question.

  • Zuruvi

    A. I hope he is at Arsenal. But … I hope he buys a top class striker. Man United is not a good team but they are being well-served by a good striker. Without Zlatan Ibrahimović they would be stuck in about as low as 12th place.

    Arsene Wenger also needs to get better midfield players. The current crop are simply average. We are regularly dominated in midfield when we face the bigger clubs.

  • Our great manager should read “once” great manager. Lots of managers to choose from, Simoene, Alegrii,, Emery, Koeman(in that order)….all would take us to the next level, that’s the next level.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Zuruvi -11/03/2017 at 4:19 pm – Its a to both , as we have been doing all along , and adding quality as and when it is available . I’m patient than most I guess, and I won’t be going anywhere in a hurry .

    As I don’t have all the facts , I ‘ll let the board do its job and decide what is best for the club . And hope that we continue to play the right way .

  • Norman14

    If we want to sideline Rhead, just get Kos to give him a meat pie – he loves them 😉