Monday, 3 December 2012
Battle of the Bank leaves fans in need of a pacemaker.
It was like the old days at Sincil Bank on Saturday as a bumper 5000 plus gate was in attendance to see the Imps take on Mansfield.
Before the game commenced there was a minutes applause to respect the memory of Bert Linnecor , who lived round the corner from me and, whilst I do not recall seeing this great player in the flesh, he was nevertheless part of the history of the club if only for his hat trick scored at Anfield in the days when City regularly locked horns with such luminaries as Liverpool. What follows has an almost written in the stars feel to it.
The minute’s applause was presumably preferred to the more traditional minutes silence to lessen the chance of the Mansfield fans ruining the solemnity of the occasion. City officials need not have worried. Even though they presumably had no idea who Bert was, the Stags supporters joined in the applause to a man and the occasion was marked, not by petty local rivalry but by respect and solidarity. Well done Stags fans. You are a credit to your club and to football.
In an age when the major clubs have devalued the magic of the FA Cup it has to be said that Lincoln City and Mansfield Town added glory to the ethos of this oldest of competitions in their determination to progress in it. City were simply not at the races in the first half, a pale shadow of the form that had preceded the clash. They went behind, deservedly, in the first half before regaining some composure and equalising as the half came to a close. It was almost as if the Imps had failed to set their alarms for the early start.
No sooner had the second half commenced the Imps were ahead, Jamie Taylor adding to Alan Power’s first half equaliser and City got to grips with the second half to put themselves in the driving seat. Not to be outdone, Mansfield levelled through Briscoe with an effort that simply had to be admired, it was hit with such ferocity.
Undaunted, City pressed on and it was Power who was to get City’s noses in front once again and as the clock ticked down it was beginning to look as if the Imps were through before Rhead headed in to force a replay, even after this Mansfield had to clear what looked like a certain City winner off the line.
It felt like a defeat but at least City were in the draw and when it came there was a certain inevitability in what was to be revealed. The day after Imps, and indeed, Stags had honoured a great Lincoln City stalwart and tormentor of Liverpool, for the Imps were victorious on the day Bert Linnecor scored his hat trick, the winners of the tie, it was decided, would play those same Merseyside giants.
I remember a day when City, riding high in the league faced Mansfield, top of the division I believe in a midweek game. The red tail lights formed an unbroken line from Newark to the stadium. I got in just before half time and could only see the ball when it was in the air. Time has moved on but I can see a mass exodus from the city for this one as the fans rediscover their thirst for seeing City away and the unaccustomed pleasure of seeing if the Imps can progress to surely one of the most prestigious fixtures ever to be held at Sincil Bank. Lincoln supporters have unfailingly backed the team wherever they have played and City fans can say with certainty, and definitely for this replay fixture, to their favourites as ever. You’ll never walk alone.