Mountain goats relish the approach to Sincil Bank press box - Carl Marston's Travels with Town
PUBLISHED: 07:17 28 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:17 28 December 2019
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Football writer Carl Marston has visited 120 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he spotlight's Lincoln City's Sincil Bank
You've got to be fit to frequent the press box at Sincil Bank, or at least share some of the nimble-footed qualities of a mountain goat.
I always gear myself up for the long climb up to the press seats, at the home of Lincoln City, from ground level at pitch side, because the steps are many, especially if you are also carrying a lap-top in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
I tried it once, back in the 1990s (when I was still wet behind the ears and so didn't know better) with a steak pie balanced on my cup of coffee, and almost came to grief, which would have no doubt given rich entertainment to the watching home supporters seated in the main stand.
Thinking about it, while on the subject of stiff climbs up to press boxes, I reckon Sincil Bank rivals Crewe Alexandra's Gresty Road for the hardest approach to a press seat.
There are other lofty view points, such as at Newcastle United and Leicester City, but you can opt for the lift, rather than the stairs, at such well-equipped stadia - taking the lift is not an option at Sincil Bank.
As a footnote, one of the most awkward and hair-raising of approaches to a press box, or rather a press gantry, was at Swansea City's old Vetch Field, where the radio reporters had to negotiate a metal, spiral staircase with a big drop down to some hard terracing, with the home fans below relishing the prospect of any false move from an apprehensive member of the press.
Ipswich Town, of course, are due at Sincil Bank tomorrow. The press box remains where it has always been, at the top of the main stand, but this also ensures a superb view.
In fact, the view is one of the best of all the Football League press box views in the country, looking out towards Lincoln Cathedral and the city centre.
That view makes all the steps worthwhile, even if your coffee is nearly always cold by the time you reach your press seat!
- Club: Lincoln City
- Founded: 1884 (135 years ago)
- Ground: Sincil Bank (since 1895)
- Town's first visit: 1-1 draw on April 17, 1955
- Town's last visit: 1-0 away win on November 2, 2019
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- Town's overall record at Sincil Bank: P7 W3 D1 L3
In the early years, Lincoln City, formed in 1884 following the disbanding of Lincoln Rovers, played their home games at John O'Gaunts, to the south of the city.
At the time, the Imps were an amateur club and there were absolutely no spectator facilities at their home ground, with just one building where the players' dressing rooms were housed.
The club moved to nearby Sincil Bank, situated just 300 metres away, in 1894, just two years after they had been elected to the Football League (Second Division).
The Imps chalked up an unwelcome 'first' in 1987, when they became the first club to be automatically relegated from the Football League. They finished rock bottom of Division Four, with Scarborough taking their place as Conference champions.
Town's recent visits
Following a resounding 4-1 win at Sincil Bank on April 15, 1961, as Sir Alf Ramsey's Ipswich side were on their way to the Second Division title - the Imps finished bottom that season and were relegated - it was another 56 years before Town returned to Lincoln.
While this weekend will be Town's first league game at Sincil Bank for 58 years, they have visited for FA Cup ties in 2017 and again only a month ago.
Anyone leaving the ground early, on either of these occasions, would have been suitably punished.
Mick McCarthy's Town endured a last gasp 1-0 defeat, in a third round tie of nearly three years ago, when Nathan Arnold bagged an injury-time winner in a 1-0 success. City, with Danny Cowley at the helm, were a non-league club at the time.
Last month, it was Town's time to stage a late, late show with Alan Judge netting on 94 minutes for a 1-0 victory, so securing a first win in the competition for nearly 10 years, spanning 15 matches.
I recall one incident-packed visit to Sincil Bank, in October, 1996, while covering Colchester United.
The U's scored two penalties (Simon Betts and Karl Duguid), but lost 3-2 and had ex-Ipswich Town man Steve Whitton sent off into the bargain!