Date: 14th July 2016 at 6:46pm
Written by:

Tony James. His sister Charmaine was married to Sheffield Wednesday’s Mel Sterland, who won a solitary England cap against Saudi Arabia in 1988.

…because you’ve got them all right in double-quick time this week. Answers anyway:

1. What do Imps stars Jimmy Hutchinson, Jim Grummett and Tony Simmons have in common?

They all had sons who also played – and scored – for the Imps: Barry Hutchinson, Jim Grummett Jr and our present Alex Simmons.

2. Which City centre half was the brother-in-law of an England international?

Tony James. His sister Charmaine was married to Sheffield Wednesday’s Mel Sterland, who won a solitary England cap against Saudi Arabia in 1988.

3. Who is the only Lincoln City manager to have suffered two successive relegation’s?

Bill Anderson, relegated from Division Two to Division Three in 1960-61, and from Division Three to Division Four in 1961-62. The decline continued, with City finishing third from bottom of Division Four the following season and having to apply for re-election just two years after playing the likes of Leeds and Liverpool in the second tier. I wonder how the regulars on Vital Lincoln would have reacted to that little run?

Facing almost insurmountable financial restrictions, Bill struggled on for another 18 months before being ‘moved upstairs’ in January 1965, replaced by the clueless Con Moulson. An ignominious end for one of Lincoln’s great managers.

4. Who is the only City player to score in 5 successive FA Cup matches?

Geoff Marlow, who scored in the First Round, Second Leg against Yorkshire Amateurs (5-1) and in both legs against Rotherham (1-2 and 1-2) in 1945-46; then against Stockton (4-2) in the First Round and Wrexham (1-1) in the Second Round in 1946-47. He failed to score in the first replay against Wrexham (3-3) but scored again as City won the second replay 2-1.

He never scored in the FA Cup again.

5. Which member of the 1975-76 championship team worked for the Lincolnshire Echo?

Dennis Leigh.

6. Which two members of Keith Alexander’s play-off teams were born on the same day?

Ben Futcher and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, both born on 4 June 1981.

7. What did Andy Graver famously do with a heavy cold?

Score 6 against Crewe in the 11-1 win on 29 September 1951. Graver had to seek medical attention before the game and probably should not have played.

8. Which City player knocked Gainsborough Trinity out of the FA Cup in 2013-14?

Jordan Thomas, who had apparently joined Trinity on loan in time for their FA Cup second qualifying round tie against Rushall Olympic. Olympic lodged a complaint with the FA after their 3-1 defeat, claiming that Thomas was not registered in time for the game. Despite Lincoln City providing evidence that they had submitted the relevant paperwork to both the Conference and the FA at 4.29pm (i.e. within the deadline), the FA claimed they had never received it. Despite the Conference confirming that they had received it, the FA still threw Trinity out. Intelligent people at the FA. Regular readers will know how much I love them.

9. How did a fall of snow keep City in the Second Division?

We’re talking about the Second Division match against Cardiff City at Sincil Bank on 8 March 1958. The match was abandoned at half-time with City 3-0 down due to heavy snow. City were in the middle of a terrible run and were seemingly heading for relegation. Even without counting the Cardiff game, City were on an 8-game losing run going into the last 7 games of the season.

City made it 9 defeats in a row with a 3-1 home defeat to Barnsley on Easter Monday, and everything looked hopeless. The defeat left City 5 points adrift of Swansea Town in 20th place, and with a vastly inferior goal average making the deficit effectively six points. The only hope was City’s three games in hand on Doncaster, two on Swansea and one on Notts County. It would need five wins, at least. With 9 successive defeats, it was out of the question.

The return game against Barnsley came at Oakwell the very next day, 8 April. Against all the odds, City reversed the scoreline from the day before to win 3-1 with goals from George Hannah, Ron Harbertson and Roy Chapman. City’s joy was short-lived, as Swansea had beaten Derby 7-0, and Notts County had beaten West Ham by a single goal at Meadow Lane. Nothing had changed: City were still 5 points behind Swansea, and the goal average deficit had just got worse.

The next game was a real crunch affair, on Saturday 12 April at second-to-bottom Doncaster Rovers. City replicated the scoreline at Barnsley, and incredibly the same three players scored. The win essentially condemned Doncaster to relegation, as they had just 2 games remaining. City were still bottom but had closed the gap on 20th place: Swansea had drawn 2-2 at Grimsby, whilst Notts County had gone down 4-1 at Charlton, leaving the Imps 4 points behind the two of them. It still looked unlikely.

Rotherham United were the next visitors to Sincil Bank, on Saturday 19 April. They had endured a poor season but were just safe from relegation. City beat the Millers 2-0 to make it three wins in a row, and this time they had Notts County firmly in their sights: County had been surprisingly thrashed 5-0 at home by seemingly-doomed Doncaster, who kept their narrow hopes of survival alive for another week. Swansea continued their run of good form with a 4-1 win over Stoke at the Vetch Field. This was becoming interesting.

Bristol City came calling at Sincil Bank four days later, on 23 April. They too were firmly in the bottom half of the table – the fourth successive game against fellow strugglers – and Lincoln dispatched them 4-0 with two more from Harbertson and another from Chapman. City were off the bottom, and just a single point behind Notts County, who had been held 0-0 at home by Bristol Rovers. They sat two points behind Swansea, the only other club that could now be relegated. City had two to play, Swansea and County one each.

The regular season was due to close on Saturday 26 April. Swansea had won 2-1 at Bristol City and were safe. Notts County won 3-1 at Rotherham to keep their chances of survival alive. Doncaster drew 1-1 with Ipswich and were relegated. City had to go to Huddersfield Town, who had enjoyed a promotion-challenge but were now sitting in 8th place; they had lost just three home games all season, and City had to win. And win they did, 1-0 thanks to a goal from that man Harbertson. City were still alive.

The bottom of the table looked like this on the evening of Saturday 26 April:

20. Notts County P 42 Pts 30 GD 0.55
21. LINCOLN P41 Pts 29 GD 0.64
22. Doncaster P42 Pts 27 GD 0.64 RELEGATED

And so we arrived at the final game of the season, that abandoned game against Cardiff City. Lincoln’s biggest crowd of the season – 18,001 – waited anxiously for their D-Day. So did the Notts County team, sitting in the St Andrews Stand.

Thank God for that fall of snow. Had the original game have been completed, City would have been relegated despite winning their last 5 games. As it happened, they had one final chance, and they took it. Cardiff were beaten 3-1 with goals from Roy Chapman (2) and Harbertson again. City had won their last 6 games – after a losing run of 9 games – to stay up by one point.

A team that had scored just 5 goals in a 9-game losing run had scored 16 goals in its last 6 games to stay up by a single point, with Harbertson, Chapman and Hannah netting 14 of them. Detractors may suggest City were lucky, having to play 5 teams in the lower reaches of the table in those last 6 games, but the black and white facts are impossible to ignore. For a team that hadn’t won for 17 games, it remains one of the greatest escapes in English football history.

10. Ben Tomlinson holds City’s scoring record since relegation, with 34 goals in all competitions. Who is second?

Alan Power, with 32 in all competitions.

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