John Beck Spirit Rekindled

John Beck….strange how a creative midfield influence at QPR,  Coventry City, Fulham, Bournemouth and Cambridge would become the architect of long-ball Lincoln. Mind you Glenn Hoddle had tarred him with that brush when Cambridge had brushed his Swindon Town side aside on the way to reaching fifth in the first Division.  This self belief and ambition was the reason he gave for turning down Leicester City in 1991 and Beck was that close to joining the first season of the new Premier league, by achieving promotion from the bottom League to the top.

Queens Park Rangers crestCoventry City FC logo.svgAFC Bournemouth.svgFulham's crest since 2000 logo Lincoln City F.C. badge.png

John’s luck is on a par with the Imps, but he likes challenges and a poisoned Challis or six.  His time at Cambridge and Lincoln saw some amazing and eccentric escapades but his sacking at both marked stark declines. United got rid in October 92 and were back in the bottom tier within 2 seasons, Lincoln struggled and would go into admin in 3.  Further financial collapses at Histon and Kettering have curtailed any chance of a repeat performance for a genuine character. This after helping Fallon storm through the pyramid with Histon only to be denied a place in the League after losing the play-off semi –final to Torquay.

Poor John was then sacked. Incredibly Fallon replaced him, he then returned at Fallon’s expense to try to steady a ship on the brink of financial disaster. Who says he who laughs last laughs longest? Beck left the following August (2012) to take up the Kettering challenge, now starting life in the Evo-Stick. With the club finances falling apart around his ears (we Imps remember Ladak only too well) John Beck, was escorted from the ground an hour before kick off. He had been merely been remonstrating that players and staff were being sacked around him.  Who can blame him, this season the Poppies have either had to cancel fixtures or field 10 man teams in front of a couple of hundred fans. nb Imps – careful what you wish for those calling for a phoenix club because no one is realistically going to move on until the ground deal gets sorted are they?

It is certainly hard-hats time once again at Impdom, something Gary, Grant, Chris and the lads know only too well. Good luck with keeping focused lads STMI has never doubted you. Let’s face it when the pro-club, many say puppet site, begins running headlines like they are today you know its headless happy hour at the hen coop to match the mantra behind the scenes at an utter shambles of a football club, Back the team at all cost s Imps, even at £18 (naturally the visionaries must have blown the 3 promotion opportunities afforded under Conference rules -no 21 for the train spotters amongst us) because our team need us. The time for Phoenix club talk is not for now; this is a time for responsible headlines calling for calm and unity.

But we digress, back to Beck and as they say once you’ve had Beck you never go back. John Reames – bless him and god rest his soul – had sacked Steve Wicks after just 42, dare I say winless days. His decision to appoint John Beck would put two of the most controversial characters in the game at the same club at the same time. Something had to give. Like Taylor the enticer, KA and now Gary, Beck was as popular as Drewe Broughton at a final day relegation six-pointer.  To his credit he avoided relegation to the Vauxhall Conference, now the BSP.  His football was not popular, like Keith Alexander or protégé Gary Simpson, but it worked as we narrowly missed the play-offs the following season. Team Lincoln had arrived and would have its finest hour the following season in 97-98.

Dean Walling, Beck’s captain at the Imps, was the first to publicly air what we fans were feeling under ‘Tilson’s nice Imps’, some time in September 2011.  We had become too easy to beat; the heads went down as soon as we went one down. The Holdsworth tenure only continued this mentality until Simmo and Brown took the club by the scruff of the neck. Incredibly with no money and, largely the same personnel, they are being slated for lack of tactics and, ‘its more of the same’. Fact, the budget City had and has, meant we have little but true Brit grit against a superior half at least of the BSP since we arrived here.  Tough to chew over when you are watching lads on £350-£400 a week at £18 entry fee I grant you. As to how managers can trump that – well hard graft, honesty integrity and contacts are the only bullets in your chamber.

The Team Lincoln ethos, something Gary, Chris and Grant are trying to build – was a time when Imps were men, leaders and mates. In came charmer Lee Thorpe – always more pheasant plucker than gentleman poacher. He was to partner ex-soldier Phil Stant, one player even Beck refused to throw buckets of cold water over (he had done this since his Cambridge days along with ordering the groundsmen not to cut the grass near the corners to give a winger a chance to catch up with a gamble aka the long punts). Stanty, a really nice chap as it goes, once got an urgent helicopter ride, at the tax payers expense, to the Army V Navy fixture and was sent off for violent conduct within 5 minutes. There was room for a lover amongst the fighters  with Gareth (bow thrice Imps) Ainsworth chasing the ‘hoofs’ of Grant Brown. The manager and chairman did not exactly see eye to eye when Gareth was sold for half a million.

But the togetherness of team Lincoln kept tight and up for the fight, encouraged by the manager to welcome the visitors to the Bank by loudly knocking on the dressing room door before the game and at half-time for good measure. The Imps enjoyed an unbeaten 16 games, with 9 wins and seven draws conceding half a dozen goals. There was a wobble as Posh hammered us in an eye watering affair and Emley came from two down to knock us out of the FA Cup on penalties. The fans then as now were divided with pro and anti Beck factions that even divided the otherwise on-form Lincoln Train Enthusiasts.  The Mighty Imps had slipped from top to 9th giving trigger happy Reames the opportunity to get rid of his nemesis. Assistant Westley took charge and would get the credit for our promotion, but it was the Beck backbone and team spirit that clinched it.

Nowhere was this more obvious than the battle of Moss Rose a defeat that rekindled the team Lincoln spirit. Two pleasant sides met, with both very much in the hunt.  The Lion Mascot kicked things off at half-time with a lewd gesture that incensed the travelling Imp hordes. The police escorted him from the field. Keeper Richardson put in a reverse 1930’s style challenge on Sedgemore who went toe to toe with him. Both saw red after the referee, stewards and police had contained a 22 man brawl. Team Lincoln all over – all for one and one for all.  The Imps lost 2-1 with Richardson, Thorpe and Barnett charged with misconduct.

The Imps this season have picked up plenty of cards, with 85 yellows and 7 reds, robbing us of Boyce for Saturday. But it illustrates how this team has the Beck/Alexander/Simmo spirit. Not style but fight and a determination to keep this club alive. In a few short weeks the manager has built a team spirit that has seen a side that were going down – take a look at the form – into one with a fighting chance. So let’s back them on Saturday because battling and unity between the fans and the team is the only thing that will keep this club alive. If you really want change, only results on the pitch are going to do it. Up until those two defeats the crowds were up both home and away.

But headlines and the voices of a few that hide behind hidden names on message boards, could continue to undo the club if we listen to them. The behind the scenes off-pitch antics have done much to fashion events on it over the last few years. It has driven as many fans away too, if you talk to ex-Imps fans, who still read this site judging by the stats against average Lincoln crowds. Stay up this season and they will return. Imps moaned about the football while Beck was doing well, just as they did in the Keith era. But local pride and a winning team has always made the Sincil Bank turnstiles click.  That as opposed to Chairmen is what has given this club its war chests.  The fans plus the players plus the manager equals team Lincoln. Such a simple equation in a game with so many variables. So let’s not move the goal posts because it will only make it harder to score.

STMI Biopic
Full name John Alexander Beck
Date of birth 25 May 1954 (age 58)
Place of birth Edmonton, England
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1972–1976 Queens Park Rangers 40 (1)
1976–1978 Coventry City 69 (6)
1978–1982 Fulham 114 (12)
1982–1986 Bournemouth 137 (13)
1986–1989 Cambridge United 112 (11)
Total 472 (43 )
Teams managed
1990–1992 Cambridge United
1992–1994 Preston North End
1995–1997 Lincoln City
2001 Cambridge United
2010 Histon
2012– Kettering Town

Posted on April 11, 2013, in Ex Imps, Relegation Reprieve 2012/13 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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