Since the age of eight, I have sung those words numerous times whilst watching Lincoln City, usually at a Cup game in which we were leading or won. For 55 years, it didn’t come to fruition and you cannot count the two trips to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for the League 2 Play-Off Finals in 2003 and 2005. 55 years for me but many more for the Club itself. Indeed, I have seen many a headline stating that it’s the first time in the Club’s 134-year history that we will have played at Wembley which is a bit misleading being as that stadium didn’t actually exist in any form until 1923, so for our first 39 years in business, we couldn’t have played there anyway!
As I understand it, we will be taking in excess of 26,000 fans which I believe is a greater sum than the combined visits to Cardiff mentioned above. What a phenomenal achievement that is and, when compared to our opponents’ number of over 11,000 it clearly demonstrates the pulling power generated by Lincoln City FC since Bob Dorrian and Clive Nates managed to persuade both Danny and Nicky Cowley to Sincil Bank back in May 2016. In their first season in charge, the Cowleys brought us to the very edge of a Wembley appearance; not once, but twice we were just one game away, something never achieved previously. Then, this season, we finally made it following a devastating run of seven successive wins in the EFL Checkatrade Trophy.
Shrewsbury Town currently lie second in the League One table with 81 points, one less than Blackburn Rovers (who have played a game less) and one more than Wigan Athletic who have two games in hand of the Shrews. Automatic promotion is certainly between these three sides as fourth-placed Rotherham United are only on 66 points with just six games to play. Paul Hurst has certainly done a very good job in Shropshire since he left Grimsby Town in October 2016 and following Shrews’ manager Micky Mellon’s departure to Tranmere Rovers. Earlier that year, he had guided the Cods to Wembley success in the National League Play-Off Final, beating Forest Green Rovers 3-1, none other than Nathan Arnold capping a fine season with the final goal in added time. Hurst appears to hold the Cowley brothers in high esteem and is very aware of our threat from set pieces, going as far as to mention the two recent Matt Green goals Vs Exeter City and Carlisle United in his pre-match review.
Our recent record Vs Shrewsbury doesn’t make good reading having lost the last four meetings and drawing the previous two. You have to go back to 2 February 2008 for our last victory, 1-2 at Gay Meadow. We have played them twice over the years in such Cup games as this one; losing 1-0 away in the Autoglass Trophy back in November 1991 then losing 1-2 at home on the LDV Vans Trophy on April Fool’s Day 2002. Third time lucky?
Sunday 8 April 2018 will be a date long remembered in the history books of the future as the day Lincoln City finally got to play at Wembley; let’s hope we can celebrate that on Sunday with a win. On paper, Shrewsbury must be favourites to win, but football matches aren’t played on paper, are they? Just ask Oldham Athletic, Ipswich Town, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, Rochdale, Peterborough and Chelsea (cheeky, I know) how they fared against the Imps.
I believe that it is written in the stars: Lincoln City 2 Shrewsbury Town 1.
“We’re on our way to Wembley, we’re on our way to Wembley…”
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City FC for the photographs.
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) April 6, 2018