Taylor - Murphy 1972-1990
In December 1972 The Imps directors appointed Graham Taylor as manager. At just 28 he had been forced to retire through injury and after 11 games without a win 'inexperienced` was the last word on everyone`s lips. Often criticised for his direct tactics GT`s style was anything but long ball. His reliance on pace and power, saw wingers such as Alan Harding, Welsh International Dick Krziwickiand and Dave Smith as well as of course forwards like John Ward, Percy Freeman and Peter Graham positively thrive. All was built around the awesome fulcrum personified 'Soooper' Sam Ellis. GT was a no nonsense fellow blessed with a common sense though visionary approach. As a full fullback Graham had gone on to play 150 times for the Imps scoring one goal before a serious hip injury finished him at 26. Here the records started, Graham becoming the youngest person to become a qualified coach at 27 and youngest manager at 28.
Now it was time to reinvent the Imps on and off the pitch as The Enticer blazed a trail that would take him from the Imps to the pinnacle of the domestic game. Getting the players out into the community was the ethos Graham reasoned if provincial sides like Lincoln were to thrive. The players would visit schools, hospitals and truly engage with the people of Lincoln. Graham became the youngest ever manager to win a league at 32. He also set the record for most Div 4 wins (32), least losses (4) and most points (74 when only 2 points for a win). GT`s side mixed it up with quality all over the Park as well as the ability to be breathtakingly direct at times. The 'Lincoln our City our community our club` was set to rock the nation. Then Elton John and Watford (1977 - 1987) nicked him and he led then from Division 4 to the top flight in five years. Statistically GT is the most successful Imp manager of all time winning 46.41 of his games in charge. Of 209 matches played we won 97 drew 60 and lost 52.
George Kerr, Taylor's assistant, was then given an impossible task. With players, including rock Sam Ellis, Dennis Booth & Wardy being lured by Elton`s pink pound, George was fired after just 20 games. Ex-Birmingham City boss Willie Bell arrived and again lasted less than a year. With The Imps in all sorts of trouble at the bottom of Division Three the job clearly drove him to distraction as he left to join a religious sect in America. Jim McCalliog took over temporarily until Colin Murphy arrived in November 1978.
Murphy would come to the crisis hit Imps rescue twice in the course of our history and be a success both times. His first stint lasted 7 years and it would be both successful and controversial. This bargain basement style challenge was one he could handle. With plenty of muck and no brass he was to transform the club from top to bottom. The playing staff was full of overpaid under talented journeyman using up the clubs money on bench warming contracts. Any talent was just going through the motions or kept in the youth team under a regime that reasoned 'if we have to pay 'em we have to play 'em. So Murphy and his scouts went to Pennywise, shopping for either Non-leaguers or reserves. We would pinch them, make them and then sell them, reasoned the wily 'Murph`. Top talent such as Trevor Peake, John Fashanu, Gordon Hobson and Steve Thompson went on to become Imp legends before moving up the ladder in exchange for a huge return on investment. .
In 1981 the Murphy fair trade blend took us up as Runners up. The following season went right to the wire with the Imps on the verge of a return to the hallowed Second Division (Championship). The City emptied as everyone went to Fulham. Alas a 1-1 draw saw the Lilywhite Elves pip the Mighty Imps by a point. Not a quitter Merlin Murphy and the Imp hordes trudged back to fight another day. The 82-83 season saw us storm the league for four months. Lineker`s Leicester fell to the Imps in the League CUP, we even nuked nine passed Harry Redknapp`s Bournemouth at Christmas - all fact not folklore. Now believe it or not Boston does not have the sole rights to Lincolnshire football soap operas. With games in hand the players went on strike. They had a point as strife in the boardroom and financial problems meant the wages hadn`t been paid.
Steff would have to have a pretty bad year to beat good old Gilbert Blades. Fans favourite Trevor Peak was sold despite us being runaway leaders! Murphy asked for some of the cash to replace him. He was told no. The natives were getting restless as death threats came from Imps. By March we had the coup d'état or Directors resignation (DR) day when the entire board resigned. We still managed 6th a result, given the fallout. Colin still stayed on until 1985 helping us through the fateful Bradford Fire, which gave rise to the Stacey West Stand. I bet if he met Mother Theresa, she`d give him her Nobel Peace Prize, uttering 'for thou art equally worthy`. Doubtless Colin would coin a wondrous phrase.
Club again appointed from within with assistant John Pickering taking over and winning just 4 of 21 games. Clearly employing from within is not a good idea at The Imps as Pickering was sacked in December 1985 and good grief George returned. Down we went and then despite being seventh at Christmas the following season his inverse Midas touch took our League place from us. Well almost as he was sacked in March 1987 as we plummeted down the table. Ok caretaker-manager Peter Daniel officially took us down, but in two months even an Abramovich stool pigeon would suffer the same fate.
Sods law, guess who was manager of the team who pipped us from safety? Yep Murphy`s wand spared Stockport. Well they were dancing all day at the Stonebow as Merlin Murphy, Magician, Football Rescues R Us and good all round egg was appointed to take us back. And he did, henceforth to be known as Murphy the Messiah. Then after Murphy`s Mission came good surely we all lived happily ever after? Well not quite when after promotion back to the League as two tenth place finishes and lack of ambition at board level saw a 'by mutual consent` parting of the ways. Total Games 412 Wins 160 Draws 114 Losses 138 Pts 594 win %age a consistent 39 across both spells.