Being a Villa supporter who was born in Lincoln, as a teenager the 1986/87 season was a bit of a bummer. Five years after winning the European Cup, Aston Villa were relegated and to add salt into the wounds, Lincoln City dropped out of the football league.
It was a bad time and football was giving me an example of how it can be a bitter pill at times.
The next season though, I experienced the flip side, with both clubs bouncing back with promotions earned on the last day of the season.
Graham Taylor led Villa out of the old second division at the first time of asking, while the Imps managed to claw themselves out of the Non-League’s Conference on the last day of the season with a 2-0 win against Wycombe Wanderers, greeted by wild scenes at Sincil Bank as both players and fans on the pitch were sprayed with champagne.
While Villa never experienced the dreaded drop again until last season, Lincoln City dropped in 2010–2011. Former short-term Villa player Chris Sutton had started the season as boss, but swiftly left after apparent disagreements with the club’s board over player spending. All was not well at the club and their relegation was secured on the last day of the season after dropping like a lead ballon in the run-in.
Villa Offer to Help Imps
It was heartening to hear that Aston Villa last week let Lincoln City use Bodymoor Heath to train in the build up for their trip to top of the table clash with Forest Green.
Sentimentally, it was nice to see my ‘big club’ giving my ‘little club’ a helping hand.
Back when Chris Sutton took over the Imps shortly after a brief stint as a player under Martin O’Neill, there was a noticeable relationship between Villa and Lincoln, as the likes of Nathan Baker, Chris Herd and Eric Lichaj enjoyed loan spells at Sincil Bank in the season prior to the Imps’ relegation. In 2008, Villa had also played a preseason game at Sincil Bank.
The Imps stopped off at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath Training Ground for a lunchtime session, after it was organised by Ex-Imps midfielder Terry Fleming, whose son, former Lincoln youth striker Jerell Sellars is now one of the bright young hopes of Villa’s squad.
Sellars signed a new contract with Villa back in July, but his progress has been interrupted by injury this season, although the good news is that the 20-year-old forward returned to training at the start of November.
“We’re very grateful to Terry,” said Imps boss Danny Cowley, who synced the Bodymoor training session with the match against Forest Green’s early Saturday kick-off time of 12.15pm.
“It’s small details, maybe one per cent, but it helps get the players into a rhythm earlier.”
Ironically, in the actual match, the Imps started slowly against Forest Green and were 2-0 down before performing a remarkable 3-2 winning comeback with two late, late goals – one in the last minute and one in injury-time.
No doubt the trip to Bodymoor helped lift their confidence for such a fight back.
Now with the Imps sitting in second place in the National League and Steve Bruce getting Villa back on track and looking up at the promotion places, the double promotion ala 1987/88 could be on.
If you know anything about football, such footballing omens have a habit of coming true.
Certainly if you want to know what MOMS regards as the perfect end to the 2016/17 season, it’s the Villans and Imps being back where they belong after both winning promotion.
UTV & UTI
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