Ernie Whittle (1949/50-1953/54)driving force behind the Imps ‘G Force In the fab 50’s
Ernie Whittle was a proper footballer. As traditional in name as he was in frame, the bow legged, stocky little inside forward made the Lincoln foundry workers lives bearable every other Saturday. Football in those days was of course the working mans game and rickets was the common ailment in poorer working class families. Not that Ernie had a problem with greens, beating many a keeper with a deft chip or a howitzer shot if no one else was on. Normally the option was the G Force in the reliable form of Johnny Garvie or the Herculean figure of Andy Graver, but the crafty chap more than waded in with his fair share of the spoils.
The Great Bill Anderson enlisted Ernie in January 1950 for £300 from West Stanley, Co. Durham, after the two footed genius had somehow failed to make the grade at Newcastle United. Imp legend Tony Emery (424 appearances 1 goal) described the schemer as ‘the best two-footed player I’ve ever seen’. Ernie’s first match for City was a 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers at Sincil Bank in February 1950 in front of a colossal 20,306, the Imps took to him like a cod to batter. His first goal came a fortnight later against Chester and he would bag a brace against Barrow to finish the season on 4 goals from 12 outings. The Imps would finish 4th in the third Division North in the 49/50 season with healthy Crowds. The normal attendance was around 11,000 with two gates of over 15,000, 2 of over 14,000 and 3 over 13,000.
The 50/51 season again saw us finish fourth as the G Force and Whittle began to get on the same wavelength notching 55 goals between then. Ernie provided the ingenuity through the middle in the main, but finished the season on 14 goals from 31 starts; firing four and making the other two against Stockport in a six nil slaughter. Without promoted rivals Doncaster the highest crowd fell to vast 16,857, witnessing a 2-1 win and 14,712 cursing a 0-2 defeat against Rotherham.
The 1951/52 championship winning season saw record breaking and bank busting crowds as the triumphant trio plundered 80 goals in League and Cup (55 Div 3 North). Ernie was ever-present scoring 19 League goals (plus 1 in the FA Cup) with the team as a whole netting 121. We hit the top on December the first and never looked back. He hit a hatrick in a 7-0 demolition of Workington and a brace against Chesterfield (5-1) and notched singles regularly through the season including a 6 match scoring run. The gates that season were, as you would expect huge with 21,757 in FA Cup V Grimsby 3-1, 21,501 V Stockport 19,522 v Cods in the League this time. The typical Gates included 1 x 17K 1 x 16k 4 x 15k 1 x 14k 4 x 12k 4 x 11k and 2 x 10k.
Ernie adapted well to life in the Second Division following the promotion in 1952 and helped himself to 14 goals as the Imps managed a creditable 15th place. All his goals were singles but he set up twice as many thriving in front of the big crowds. The Bank nearly burst with 22,029 V Huddersfield, 21,726 V Forest, 21,042 V Blackburn and 20,776 V Doncaster. Typical Gates saw 4 over 20k, 2 over 19k, 1 over 18k, 3 over 17k, 2 over 16k, 3 over15k. The following season saw him get a hat trick against Rotherham in a 4-3 thriller with a seasonal haul of 12 from 27 games. A couple of injuries to our star man affected the momentum of the side a bit, though we still finished a creditable 16th. The crowds were huge again with 23,027 seeing an FA Cup 4th Round tie against Preston (0-2), 17,979 V Leeds (2-0) and 17,593 V Everton (1-3). Most weeks at least 12k would roll up to the Bank with 4 seeing over 16k, 1 over 15k, 1 over 14k and another 4 over 13k. Despite the trio notching 42 goals between then in all competitions Ernie would move onto Workington.
The famous Bill Shankley had just joined Workington and been given the task of saving them from a third re election ordeal in 3 years, which normally spelled bad news for a league club. His shrewd signing of Ernie Whittle in March 1954 was a masterstroke with Ernie leading them to fifth from bottom. He would play a further 2 seasons wading in with a phenomenal 44 goals in 110 aps. After 21 goals in the 1955/56 season he was transferred to Chesterfield making 15 aps and scoring 4 goals in the 56/57 season. This caught Bradford Park Avenue`s eye who signed for the 57/58 season, with him making 18 league appearances and notching 6 goals. Those bow legs weren`t finished yet as he spent a further 2 seasons at Scarborough top scoring in both, with 13 & 14 goals respectively. He then retired finally in 1960.
Ernie, like Andy Graver, was a native of the North East but settled in Lincoln once his playing days came to an end and he returned to Sincil Bank in 1966 as trainer/coach for the Club’s ‘A’ team. Both his son Kennie (an apprentice in the mid 1960s) and grandson Simon (a YTS in the early 1990s) were later on City’s books.
Ernie died on May 8th 1998 aged 72.
Ernie Whittle (1949/50-1953/54)
Full Name: Whittle, Ernest
Date Of Birth : 25/11/1925
Birthplace : Lanchester
Died : 1998
LCFC career record :
Apps : 151 (145 League) ; Goals : 64 (62 League).
LCFC Football League record :
Apps : 145 ; Goals : 62
LCFC Debut : 11/02/1950, Doncaster Rovers (h) 1-0, FL Division 3N in front of 20,306
Season 1949/1950 : 4th Div 3 N
Apps : 12 ; Goals : 4
Braces: Barrow (4-0)
Highest Crowds Doncaster (1-0) 20,306
Typical Crowds: 11k with 2 over 15k, 2 over 14k, 3 over 13k.
Season 1950/1951 : 4th Div 3 N
Apps : 31 ; Goals : 14
4`s Stockport (6-0)
Highest Crowds Scunthorpe (2-1) 16,857, Rotherham (0-2) 14,712.
Typical Crowds 8-9k 1 x 12k 4 x 11k 8 x 10k
Season 1951/1952 : Champions Div 3 N.
Apps : 49 ; Goals : 20
Hat Tricks Workington (7-0)
Braces Chesterfield (5-1)
Highest Gates: 21,757 FA Cup (3-1) 21,501 V Stockport 19,522 v Cods
Typical Gates 1 x 17K 1 x 16k 4 x 15k 1 x 14k 4 x 12k 4 x 11k 2 x 10k
Season 1952/1953 : 15h Div 2
Apps : 32 ; Subs : 0 ; Goals : 14
Highest Gates: 22,029 V Huddersfield, 21,726 V Forest, 21,042 V Blackburn, 20,776 V Donny.
Typical Gates 4 over 20k, 2 over 19k, 1 over 18k, 3 over 17k, 2 over 16k, 3 over15k
Season 1953/1954 : 16h Div 2
Apps : 27 ; Subs : 0 ; Goals : 12
Hat Tricks Rotherham (4-3)
Highest Gates 23,027 FA Cup 4th R Preston (0-2) 17,979 V Leeds (2-0), 17,593 V Everton (1-3)
Typical Gates: 12k, 4 over 16k 1 over 15k, 1 over 14k, 4 over 13k
1 Andy Graver (50/51-54/55,55/56,58/59-60/61) Aps 274 (0) Goals 143
2 Johnny Campbell (33/34-38/39) Aps 184(0) Goals 104
3 Gordon Hobson (77/78-84/85,88/89-89/90 Aps 321 (12) Goals 96
4 John Ward (70/71-78/79,81/82) Aps 224 (17) Goals 90
5 Billy Dinsdale (26/27-30,30/31) Aps 126 Goals 89
6 Johnny Garvie (50/51-55/56) Aps 184 (0) Goals 78
7 Roy Chapman (57/58-60/61, 64/65-66/67) Aps 174 (1) Goals 77
8 Allan Hall (1931/32-1932/33) Aps 72 (0) Goals 64
9 Percy Freeman (70/71-72/73, 74/75-76/77 Aps 138 (14) Goals 64
10 Earny Whittle 1949/50-1953/54 145 aps 62 goals