A man who would move heaven and earth for Lincoln City.
‘Greed blights football, the big clubs want to keep all the money, and too many of the wrong people are coming in for the wrong reasons – to make money.’
John Reames whilst on the Football League management committee.
John Reames on managers…..
“There have been too many managers?.. Allan Clarke a total disaster, real ability but impossible to deal with after a few wins and impossible to find after a few losses??. Keith Alexander?? great potential but felt I let him down insisting on an experienced assistant??..Sam Ellis?. Our most disappointing manager?.. A great publicist but we needed a coach?? John Beck?. I was naïve enough to think I could control him?.. Lincoln have always had 2 kinds of managers?. Those who have failed elsewhere and ex players who have no idea how to run a relatively large business? neither of these make the greatest sense to me.
‘What the difference is between three minutes to three and five o`clock, I`m not sure.’ – KEITH JOHN REAMES (Lincoln chairman) referring to the perpetual struggle for boards in the lower leagues.
When John Reames died nine months ago, we said goodbye to one of the greatest characters ever to walk the corridors of power. We also bid farewell to the last great financial juggler to run the club and the man responsible for the building of Sincil Bank. We had good times we had bad, but John made far more people happy than sad. Those who knew him well realized that though we amassed some debts he was battling like other chairman in a world of football gone made. Perhaps that is why so many Imp fans greeted the news of his passing with great sadness. Lincoln born and bred, Keith John Reames saw his first game at Sincil Bank as a five-year-old. He would be a regular and fulfill every fans dream, moving from being his granddads terrace companion to grand overlord of Sincil Bank. Not everyone`s cup of tea, particularly the 12 managers he sacked, John was a passionate Lincoln fan and a generous one, with his own as well as our creditor`s money. The one year we made a profit we went down and he joked that that was clearly not the way to run a football club, well not if you wanted to stay popular with those that mattered anyhow. Indeed John originally joined the board of Lincoln City Football Club in 1983, it was called DR Day (Directors Resign Day) when the entire Lincoln City FC board resigned following death threats. Ex Chairman Gilbert Blades was not a popular man to say the least. This action left the club in turmoil for the remainder of that season, with the Imps missing promotion to Division 2. It was also the start of a dramatic decline. We had been relegated from the Football League, just four seasons after being clear leaders of Division 3.
He became Chairman in 1985 taking over from Denis Houston. John would stay for 15 years making him the longest Lincoln City chairman. In that span he saw us relegated to the conference despite being the only club in Division 4 to make a profit. We didn`t make that mistake again. We bounced straight back under Colin Murphy, brought back by a John Reames charm offensive. He also manipulated the football stadium grants to our advantage, giving us the stadium we have today. In 1993 Steve Thompson was sacked after missing out on the play-offs by virtue of goal average. In 1995 he sacked Steve Wicks after only 42 days. In 1997 despite an ongoing war with John Beck the Imps were promoted. Allegedly he told the police where he would be at 3pm and JB was arrested at five to three at Sincil Bank. Despite huge losses he cobbled together £75,000 to buy Lee Battersby with winger Lee Philpot, and Leo Fortune-West joining on frees. We struggled and dropped like a stone.
In January 1998, he controversially sacked his 12th manager, Shane Westley, and took over himself. Though widely seen at the time as megalomania, the simple truth was that the club could not afford a replacements wages, with lower gates tightening the noose. This may have something to do with dealing with the payoffs of John Beck and Shane Westley as well as the spiralling debt. The football improved, though we were still relegated. It wasn`t all bad, the following season he even became manager of the month (October 1999), despite players and peers questioning his tactics on and off the field. Few disagreed to his face though.
Mr Reames handed over the managerial reigns to Phil Stant in May 2000. The man with the clipboard finally had the reigns he had been promised. John returned to the boardroom to wrestle with the finances of a club that had lost £1 million over the last 5 years. In November 2000, after announcing losses of £1.7 million at the AGM, he resigned as chairman of Lincoln City FC. Rob Bradley, the elected chairman of Lincoln’s Supporters Trust, a director since the summer became football’s first ever supporter-chairman.
John then attempted to take over at Gainsborough Trinity before joining Wrexham. Here he became a whistle blower that saved the Dragon`s stadium. Above all Keith John Reames was a man of principle.
R.I.P. John thanks for the memories, if you are looking down on us here are some quotes.
Mr Keith Roe former Director Lincoln City Football Club
‘John was a very successful and astute business man, and his passion for LCFC was unquestionable. He was without doubt the major contributor for securing the grants necessary to make the stadium one of the best in the lower leagues.’
Speeking at the time of his death last May, Rob Bradley Former Chairman Lincoln City Football Club said.
‘ Like most people would say at this sad time, the news of John passing away has come as a tremendous shock. He was Lincoln City through and through and the stadium as we see it today is recognition of the work he did during his time at Sincil Bank. I got to know him when the Trust became involved in the club and during difficult negotiations his passion for the club shone through. It is a sad time for the Lincoln City as well as for all the people who were fortunate to know him. ‘
The full list of sacked managers reads – Colin Murphy (1978 -1985 left by mutual consent), John Pickering (July 1985 – Dec 1985), George Kerr (Dec 1985 – Mar 1987), Peter Daniel (Mar 1987 – May 1987), Colin Murphy (July 1987 – May 1990 left by mutual consent), Allan Clarke (June 1990 – Dec 1990), Steve Thompson (Dec 1990 – May 1993), Keith Alexander (May 1993 – May 1994), Sam Ellis (June 1994 – Sept 1985), Steve Wicks (Sept 1995 – Oct 1995 just 42 days), John Beck (Oct 1995 – Mar 1998) and Shane Westley (Mar 1998 – Nov 1998).