The history books are being scoured at the moment and Andrew Jackson, a historian at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln, has been on the trail of past glories and defeats.
As Dr Jackson (pictured below right) has been finding out, Monday this week was the 102nd anniversary of Lincoln City’s last meeting with Arsenal, at home, on 6th March 1915.
At Sincil Bank that day, the Imps pulled off a 1-0 victory, and went into the record books as being the victor in that final contest.
Speaking with Arsenal’s historian, Iain Cook, it appears that it was to their great credit that Lincoln had already held the Highbury club to a 1-1 draw in their north-London stadium in the preceding Autumn.
However, Arsenal were the mightier team on paper.
They had dropped into the Second Division alongside Lincoln for a few seasons, but were aiming to go back up.
Unfortunately, the First World War finally called professional football to a halt, and when the seasons were re-established in 1919, the higher ranked Arsenal were moved up. And so the teams have not met since – until this Saturday that is.
Can the Imps though take inspiration from a greater and more surprising triumph than the one of 1915?
Andrew Jackson has been looking into an even more impressive win of 1914.
In the Autumn of 1913 Arsenal had squarely beaten Lincoln, 3-0, having invited them to their brand new Highbury stadium.
When the north-Londoners turned up at Sincil Bank on 21st February 1914, the Lincoln team must have felt very much the underdogs.
A newspaper report of the time spoke of what Lincoln seemed to be facing in that season – ‘giant’ teams with ‘giant’ purses. By early 1914 they had become the ‘wooden-spoon’ team of Division Two.
The writer of that newspaper report, a poet who had watched the game that day, remembered Arsenal striding onto the Sincil Bank ground ‘like gods’.
The poet, Bernard Samuel Gilbert, recalled the sight of the visitors, smartly dressed in their ‘scarlet’ shirts. The game went as perhaps expected. At half term Lincoln were 2-1 down, and for Gilbert and his fellow fans ‘our hearts were sick within us’.
After the interval, however, the ‘Lincoln team went sheer mad’.
A quick equaliser followed, Arsenal failed to secure a penalty, and the Lincoln supporters ‘screamed with relief’.
The visitors then fell apart. Lincoln scored two more goals, and their ‘ten thousand’ adoring fans ‘never stopped shouting’. Arsenal had been ‘completely crushed’, Gilbert recalled.
Will the spirit of 1914 be revived in the hearts and minds of the Imps on the afternoon of 11th March 2017? Dr Jackson will be watching and listening out.
Article: Dr AJH Jackson – Bishop Grosseteste University
Image: Maurice Hodson Collection