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.
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.
|Full name||John Alexander Beck|
|Date of birth||25 May 1954 (age 58)|
|Place of birth||Edmonton, England|
|1972–1976||Queens Park Rangers||40||(1)|
|1992–1994||Preston North End|
Tamworth and Lincoln are in a transfer tug of war after Mansfield Town decided not to follow up their interest in Crawley and Kettering centre-half John Dempster. The Lambs confirmed 4 new faces last week – Marcus Kelly, Adam Cunnington, Tommy Wright and Lee Hendrie – with another signing being unveiled at a press conference tomorrow.
John, in his prime at 29, is a combative centre-half who knows how to win. He won the League 2 title in 2002/3 with Rushden, the BSN with Kettering in 2007/8, the BSP title with Crawley in 2010/11; as well as helping them to promotion to League 1 this season. That is clearly a step too far for a very driven and focussed player that fans warm to.
Last term illustrates this particularly well. He started the season as first choice at Crawley but lost his place due to a second yellow against Port Vale, returning for three games before being loaned out to former club Kettering for a month. In those five games he managed 2 yellows plus another second yellow that led to a second ban. Despite a commanding performance for Crawley in a 2-0 win over Bury he was dropped for the following game and looked like being left to rot in the reserves.
Mansfield came in for him on loan where he got the chance to show his strengths. In 12 games he added another 3 yellows to his seasonal total but scored three times (headers from set-pieces) including a gem in his final game against Darlo a 5-2 romp. John finished the season at Crawley featuring in the final 4 games of their promotion winning side, netting once with a couple more yellows besides.
Despite paying Kettering an undisclosed fee, Crawley released John this summer but as yet no one has made him an offer. Since Mansfield decided not to follow up their interest, the field has opened for 3-4 Blue Square clubs, all of whom will be fully aware of his credentials at this level. Gowling, Boyce and Dempster would certainly see some cards this season but they would be a formidable nut for even the toughest characters in the BSP to crack.
|Full name||John Dempster|
|Date of birth||1 April 1983 (age 29)|
|Place of birth||Kettering,|
|Height/Weight||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) /11st 9lb (73.92kg)|
|Senior Stats (Lge & Cup)|
|2001–2006||Rushden & Diamonds||77||(4)|
|2011||Kettering Town (loan)||5||(0)|
|2011–2012||Mansfield Town (loan)||12||(3)|
Stockport County, Lincoln City and AFC Telford could do themselves some massive favours against Kettering Town, Tamworth FC & Darlington today as the BSP basement battle enters the final six games.
|Bath City||v||Fleetwood Town||15:00|
|Braintree Town||v||Alfreton Town||15:00|
|Southport||v||Hayes & Yeading||15:00|
|Tuesday’s games (3 Apr 2012)|
|Lincoln City||v||Cambridge Utd||19:45|
BSP Standings 30/3/12
|17||AFC Telford United||40||9||13||18||39||56||-17||40|
|21||Hayes & Yeading||40||9||7||24||51||80||-29||34|
|23||Kettering Town *||40||8||8||24||36||82||-46||29|
Darlington 10 points deduction for admin & Kettering Town down 3 points for breaching league rules
Kettering Town and Lincoln have history, suggesting there may be something in the extra ‘quid’ on a ticket to cover policing costs. However, a vital 3 points apart, we could be kindred spirits and should thank Uncle Bobs lucky stars we are not having to rely on our Trust to save our skins as they are.
The Poppies face the crunch next month(around the time things could have gone bang for us) with a 3,000 fine and 3 point deduction in the mix – and that is just for starters. Reinforcements may be a tough ask for David Holdsworth, but the Poppies caretaker player boss Ashley Westwood can’t hire in players or even play himself due to a transfer embargo. Then the club faces a winding up order suggesting they could go the way of Rushden & Diamonds, their rivals up until last year. Not that the R & D fans will have much sympathy after the Poppies jumped in their grave and started playing at their old spiritual home, Nene Park.
With the players unpaid since November and just the two subs available, things could not look worse for the Poppies ahead of Tuesday’s game against Gateshead. But even with square pegs in round holes, and despite missing ex PSG forward Jean-Paul Marna they went 4-5-1 to snatch a 2-1 win and end a 13 match winless streak. Marna will be back Saturday suggesting the dead men walking might just increase their momentum against a Lincoln side with just one fit striker. After a 2-0 win at the Bank the double is on even if defenders and midfielders may swap their natural positions for the cause.
So without further ado and ahead of the show, lets have a look at the form of the foe.
|Kettering 2011/12 BSP Breakdown|
|G||W||D||L||F||A||GD||GOAL AV(F)||GOAL AV(A)||
|Current form – Last 5′s|
|G||W||D||L||F||A||GD||GOAL AV(F)||GOAL AV(A)||
|Last 5 Home||5||1||2||2||4||9||-5||0.80||1.80||1.00||5||20|
|Last 5 Away||5||0||0||5||2||22||-20||0.40||4.40||0.00||0||23|
BSP Table 27th January 2012
|17||AFC Telford United||30||6||10||14||31||45||-14||28|
|22||Hayes & Yeading||30||6||6||18||43||65||-22||24|
Darlington stats include 10 points deduction for entering administration
The Seasonal stats so far.
|Highs & Lows|
|Longest winning Run||2 games|
|Worst losing streak||4 games|
|Longest unbeaten run||3 games|
|Longest winless streak||13 games|
|Biggest Home Win||3-2 Newport County, 2-1 Braintree Town, 2-1 Gateshead|
|Biggest Away Win||Lincoln City 0-2|
|Heaviest Home Defeat||0-5 Luton Town|
|Heaviest Away Defeat||York City 7-0|
|Highest Aggregate Score||3-5 Hayes & Yeading|
|Highest Gate||3247 Luton Town|
|Lowest Gate||804 Gateshead|
|Total Turnstile Clicks||22536|
Heroes & Villains – Goal machines
|David Bridges & Aman Verma||2|
The Creative influences
Card Collectors – Yellows – 56
|Cunnington / Sangare / Ifil||3|
Red cards – 11