There is only a month until we meet at the Bank for the Celtic XI friendly match and with the disappointing England exit from the World Cup our thoughts will turn to the new league season. Promotion from the Conference has returned one of our old adversaries, Oxford United, to League Two and we will also look forward to meeting a new club to the Football League, Stevenage Town.
I personally feel some sadness that our county neighbours Grimsby Town and Boston United are no longer visiting to contest the right to be above the Imps in the league. When they and Notts County were in our league we had a local derby every other month. And then this train of thought leads us on to asking were all the teams are we used to play in the past, which fell out of the leagues and didn’t manage to follow the Imps example and get promoted back.
The Blue Star Premier contains many of our sparing partners from previous seasons, such as Barrow who dropped out in the sixties. Barrow this year won the FA Trophy against League Two newcomers, Stevenage Town. Does anyone remember Alan Morton scoring a hat-trick against Barrow on the last day of the 1963-64 season? He had previously scored a hat-trick against another team who dropped out in the same decade, Bradford Park Avenue – currently in the Unibond Premier and who just missed out on promotion to the Blue Star North last season after a play-off against our friends at Boston United. Norman ‘Iron Head’ Corner scored a hat-trick against Bradford PA in the 1968-69 season. So Boston is now two promotions away from a return to League Two! Another team who nearly disappeared from our radar was Workington Town, also in Blue Star North, who dropped out in the seventies. They sadly missed out on promotion through the play-offs this year.
There are of course the success stories of Accrington Stanley (remember the milk advert?) and Aldershot Town who dropped out of the Football League, reformed in lower leagues and eventually returned to resume their opposition to the Imps. And there are the sad stories such as Scarborough Town and Maidstone United who dropped down into local minor leagues and have had to fight for their very survival.
It is nice to see old friends return but also to welcome newcomers such as Burton Town and Stevenage Town, to see new away stadiums and meet a new group of supporters. So to Luton Town, Rushden, York, Mansfield and other previous League members, we look forward to your return, but equally we would be interested to meet Kettering (maybe!), Crawley or Salisbury.