League Division Four

ColchestervLincoln4002 December ~ As once recounted at length in the Lincoln fanzine Deranged Ferret, I arrived late for this game at Colchester station at 3.15pm on a very foggy day. My suspicions that the match might have been postponed were worsened when the cab driver who was now hastening me to Layer Road announced: "Don't know why you're going there, mate, the game's been called off.” When he refused to take me back to the station on the grounds that "once I've started the fare I've got to take you there", there was some unseemly shouting until the canny joker revealed that he'd been kidding me all along.

I made it into the stadium just in time to see Shane Nicholson lob John Grace for the game's only goal on 29 minutes. After that, the fog further thickened and Lincoln's second half attacks were – from the viewpoint of the away fans – the subject of mere rumour. It was considerate of them not to score a second goal that we wouldn't have seen anyway.

Lincoln were eighth and eventually missed the play-offs by three points. Colchester were one point off the bottom spot and ended up going down in last place. That the programme notes were written by club physiotherapist Brian Owen was maybe a pointer to manager Jock Wallace's departure three weeks later. "Apart from the results, I have enjoyed my time back at the club where I once had a spell as a player," Owen wrote without too much conviction. "Although our present condition is none too healthy, I think once things settle down we'll be shooting up the table."

Helping propel them upwards would be profiled player and recent signing from Diss Town Clive Stafford, a man whose pre-match meal was "beans and chicken". Clive was still "undecided" about the person in the world he'd most like to meet, but declared that his biggest disappointment was a "1-1 draw in Cumnock". There are no further details, so we don't know if the disappointment was in Cumnock in Ayrshire, Cumnock in New South Wales, or Cumnock in North Carolina. Was he denied a late winner by a dodgy offside call? Had he won a Cumnock Juniors souvenir snow-shaker in the half-time raffle, only then to accidentally drop it on the floor and see it smash before he'd had time to properly enjoy the simulated winter scene? Whatever the traumatic experience, in whichever Cumnock, we can only hope that it helped to make him a stronger, better man.

Targeting the fan demographic "Our mortgages and secured loans are certain home winners, we score every time with home and contents insurance, and with Royal London's car and motorcycle insurance policies, you are always on the ball." And that's only about one third of the advert – Royal London crams every inane football metaphor known to the advertising industry on to a single page under the absolutely persuasive headline: Whichever team wins today, you can win too! But what if it's a draw?

Result Colchester 0 Lincoln 1 (Nicholson)
Crowd 2,517
Colchester Grace, Hagan, Stafford, Tony English, Daniels, Gilbert, Bennett, Collins, Morgan (Scott), Tommy English, Wilkins (Taylor)
Lincoln Wallington, Williams, Clark, Nicholson, Thompson, Davis, Schofield, Bressington, Sertori, Carmichael, Hobson

Ian Plenderleith 

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