Friday, June 28, 2013

Lincoln City Loan XI - 2000 onwards

Hello all

A recent blog entry, well I say recent, I mean a few months ago, chronicled 11 former Imps who you could never question their effort, regardless of how poor they were generally. I received many suggestions of what to do next for a Lincoln XI and I have gone with a Loan XI. We a LOT of loanees during the last 13 years, there was plenty of choose from, but I think the below are the best XI based on their loan spells alone.

So here we go, a Lincoln XI made up entirely of loanees from the last 13 years.

Goalkeeper - Trevor Carson - Loaned from Sunderland in 2010/11

We have had six loan goalkeepers during the last 13 years, Chris Day, Robert Oleynik, Paul Farman, Elliott Parish, Ben Smith and Trevor Carson, and Carson was the one who impressed me most, followed closely by Day.

At a time when Joe Anyon was seriously struggling in the Imps net, and had just cost us three points against Wycombe, a result that left the Imps dead bottom of the division, Steve Tilson decided to dip into the loan market and brought Carson on loan from Sunderland. He must have thought life was a doddle at the bottom of League Two as the Imps won each 6 of the next 7 games, with Carson being particularly impressive and making many fine saves. It was a run that lead many Imps fans to believe we were safe with a few months to go.

Carson continued to impress, although a few mistakes did creep in every now and then, although he wasn't helped by Julian Kelly hitting a backpass to him as hard as he could in a game against Chesterfield. Carson kept us in many games we would have otherwise lost, however, it turned out that all was not well in the camp and Carson left just hours before a home match against Rotherham, forcing the Imps to bring in rookie Elliott Parish from Aston Villa....and we all know how that one turned out.

Many rumours surfaced about why Carson had left, especially after he was very soon loaned out again to Brentford, who appeared at Wembley a few days later. Carson went on to sign for Bury.

Defender - David Stephens - Loaned from Norwich City in 2009/10

Before he fucked Sutton about with whether he would sign a deal or not, Stephens had barely played during a spell on loan from the then Championship Norwich. He had played in the odd game here and there and had been largely impressive during those appearances, as whe was one of the stand out performers towards the end of the 2009/10 season.

Stephens was offered a permanent deal, but instead signed for Scottish side Hiberian. Whether it was realistic that he would sign a deal with the Imps is very open to debate, because as I say, he wasn't often used by Sutton and when let go from Norwich, he would more than likely have been looking for guaranteed football, something that he was definitely not going to get under Sutton.

Stephens again only played in sporadic games for Hiberian before being released. He will be back at Sincil Bank next season after joining Barnet last summer and being a regular in their first team line up.

Defender - Adam Watts - Loaned from Fulham in 2009/10

Watts became the second signing of the Sutton era (after Ian Pearce) when he joined on loan from Premier
League Fulham in October 2009. The Imps defence had come under intense scrutiny after another poor start to the season and Sutton plumped for the young defender.

The bald defender impressed many during his early spell at the club and put in many fine performances (expect for Northwich away when he stood watching most of the time). He signed a permanent deal in January of that season but his season ended soon afterwards as he suffered a broken leg in a 2-2 draw at Grimsby and didn't play again during that season for the Imps.

He had a mixed spell at the club after that and was part of the defence that conceded a hatful of goals towards the end of the 2010/11 season that saw the club relegated, and he didn't get off to a great start in the following season either. In an FA Cup replay against Alfreton Town, his mistake lead to the winning penalty for Alfreton, and afterwards there were some idiotic fans going on the various message boards and Facebook groups saying that people should send him abuse over Facebook.

Adam soon left City and signed for Gainsborough, helping them reach the Blue Square North Playoff Final.

Defender - Nathan Baker - Loaned from Aston Villa in 2009/10

I didn't personally rate Baker at all and have only included him in this list because he is now playing regularly in the Premier League.

Baker was one of many Aston Villa youngsters to join the club on loan under Chris Sutton and it was deemed as a coup for the Imps, with the defender being touted as a future star of the England national team, I was not convinced following his displays.

He struggled to keep the ball in play, even when under no pressure, and I can only actually recall him having one good game during his spell at the club as he starred in the 1-0 win against Bury that secured City's League status for another season. Whilst I don't think he was truly awful, I certainly wouldn't have described him as a future England star.

To be fair to him though, he has established himself in the Villa squad and despite scoring his fair share of own goals, he is now playing regularly in a Premier League team, the only member of this list to be able to boast that.

If Paul Lambert continues to base the Villa side on youth, even though that youthful side almost saw one of the few remaining ever-present Premier League teams, then Baker could turn out to be a vital part of that.

Defender - Hamza Bencherif - Loaned from Nottingham Forest in 2007/8

Before someone says that Hamza is a midfielder, we played him in defence during his loan spell, so that's
where I am putting him.

I remember first hearing that we were signing this youngster from Nottingham Forest and thinking "who" and I was distinctly unimpressed that we had bolstered our defence with a teenager, right in the middle of the worst start the club had ever made to the season (we only won two games in all competitions before late November). What we needed at the time was a no-nonsense, muscley defender, and generally all young players do not fit that bill, however, when I first saw Hamza in person, my first reaction "Holy fuck", he was built like a bull, he was quite possible the biggest defender I had ever seen and had the build of someone double his age.

After initially not being impressed with his signing, I grew to be a big fan of Hamza and he proved to be one of our best players that season, even though he did only play for a few months. Hamza proved to be a big hit with fans and scored the odd goal here and there.

After leaving the Imps he went on to play for Macclesfield and Notts County. He has recently been rumoured with a return to Lincoln, but whether it's realistic or not is an extremely different matter.

Midfielder - Louis Dodds - Loaned from Leicester City in 2007/8

Dodds initially joined the club as a striker but converted to midfield during his year long loan spell at the club.

The floppy haired player had been on loan at Rochdale in the previous season and had a decent reputation, so there was a general level of satisfaction when he signed on loan. He lived up to the early hype and was briefly joint leading goalscorer before being converted into a midfielder. Dodds would go on to score some stunning goals from midfield, included a wonderful curling effort from 30 yards against Wycombe in what would turn out to be Peter Jackson's final game before he went off for treatment for throat cancer.

Louis remains a rarity at the club in terms of being a season long loanee and he generally made a positive contribution to the 2007/8 season, scoring 9 goals in his 41 appearances for the club, a strike rate that some strikers that we have had in recent years would be proud of.

Dodds was heavily linked with a permanent move to the Imps but eventually settled on Port Vale, and he has been there ever since.

Midfielder - Matthew Saunders - Loaned from Fulham in 2009/10

Matthew Saunders was another Sutton loan signing and the young midfielder was about as stringy as they
come, and he's someone who I doubt will have ever seen a gym, but he had a great touch on the ball and although he often passed backwards, his passing was accurate.

Saunders also scored quite possibly the best goal I have ever seen at Sincil Bank with his amazing 35 yard dipping half-volley against Hereford in March of that season. I have seen some good goals, and there some of the people in this list have scored some stunning goals as well, but for me this is the best goal I have seen in the 13 years I have regularly been attending Lincoln games. It was one of three goals that Saunders scored for the Imps.

Whilst he was good on the ball, there were some serious doubts about his passion to play for the club and rumours regularly surfaced at the time that he had made it known that he didn't want to be at the club. There were even rumours at the time that he regularly asked to return to Fulham because he thought he was much better than League Two level.

He may have thought he was better than League Two level, but that is where he ended up on a permanent basis as he would join Dagenham after being released from Fulham.

Midfielder - Chris Herd - Loaned from Aston Villa in 2009/10

One of only two Australians to play for the club during this millenium, Herd proved very popular with Imps fans from when he made his debut against Northwich in the FA Cup. For such a short player, it was
incredible that he rarely lost a challenge for a header, and some fans briefly referred to him as a kangaroo.

Herd was one of the few players during the period covered by this list that I genuinely got excited about when he got the ball. I can't think of a single player we have had, permanently or otherwise, that ran at defenders with as little fear as Herd. He had the confidence that you would expect from a young player and this won him many fans at Lincoln, and many people wanted the club to sign him permanently, although that subsequently fell apart when he signed a new deal with Aston Villa.

One thing that surprised me was how approachable he was. Most young players, especially from the upper levels, don't give a fuck about people talking to them, however, just after a 2-2 draw with Grimsby, a game in which Herd scored, a bunch of us found him waiting for a train as Grimsby train station, it was quite bizarre. He got talking to us all about the game and how he loved the club. When asked if he would want to come to us permanently he didn't rule it out, although obviously he was hoping to break into the Villa first team. He took time to pose with the 20 or so fans that were present.

The Imps did almost re-sign Herd on loan the following season but he got injured. He has featured on a sparse basis for Aston Villa in a career that is quickly being taken over by injuries. He still has a year to run on a new contract.

Midfielder - Richard Butcher - Loaned from Oldham Athletic in 2005/6

Just a few short months after leaving the club for Oldham Athletic, Butcher returned on loan after suffering a torrid time at the hands of the Latics fans.

There isn't really a lot I can write about Butcher that most reading this won't already know, but Richard played a key part during the month he was back at the club and he would eventually return to the club against in 2009/10, although his third spell at the club wasn't even close to as successful as his first two.

During his loan spell at the club he was best remembered for a stunning goal away at Leyton Orient to gain the Imps a point in a game where the hosts had absolutely dominated.

Below is a video someone produced showing his goals for Lincoln.

Striker - Davide Somma - Loaned from Leeds United in 2009/10

Bar none, Somma is the best striker I have ever seen at Sincil Bank, however, when he signed there were very few who thought it was a great loan. Somma's record prior to joining the Imps was poor, very poor indeed, and many couldn't see the point in loaning a striker who seemed
very goalshy, but a goalscoring debut silenced some critics.

More goals quickly followed and all of a sudden Somma became one of the most sought after players in the lower leagues as he almost single handedly kept the Imps up. Stunning goal after stunning goal made Imps fans desperate for him to sign on a permanent basis and things looked good when Leeds allowed us to renew his loan after a brace at Torquay saw the Imps secure a rare win at Plainmoor, but days later he signed a new contract at Elland Road.

Somma scored goal after goal for the Imps and eventually ended on 9 goals in his 14 appearances for the club. He did end it on a bit of a sour note though, getting sent off for a headbutt in the final game of the season against Macclesfield. That red card meant that he was suspended when City faced Leeds in the Carling Cup at the beginning of the following season.

Somma went on to be a hit at Elland Road but injuries started keeping him out of the side and he was recently told that his contract would not be renewed. I would love to see Somma back at Lincoln and he would easily score more than 30 goals a season at this level....but I think there's more chance of angels flying out of Steve Tilson's arse than seeing Somma as a Lincoln player again.

Striker - Jamie Forrester - Loaned from Bristol Rovers in 2005/6
Whilst Somma's goals kept Lincoln in League Two in 2010, Forrester's goals almost helped the club out of the same division in 2006. Forrester wasn't your typical Keith Alexander signing, he was an experienced
League striker who had a rich career throughout the divisions, whereas most of Keith's better signings came from non-league, however, few could argue with Forrester's impact. The Bristol Rovers striker joined on loan just days after a 2-1 defeat at Boston, but he almost certainly wouldn't have been at the club had Simon Yeo not been badly injured during that match.

Forrester's debut came in 5-0 win over his former side Grimsby, with Forrester scoring a beautiful lob from the edge of the area to give City a 2-0 lead, he would also help set up many other goals. During his brief loan spell of about two months, Forrester showed his class and he almost single handedly got the Imps into the Playoffs at the end of the season, and he would become the last player that Keith Alexander would sign permanently as Lincoln City manager.

He was a very calm, collected striker and he scored some great goals during his loan spell. He was one of the best all-around players I have seen at Sincil Bank, and had we not signed him at the end of the 2005/6 season then I seriously doubt that we would have made the Playoffs that year. He would also be leading goalscorer in the following season in was second in the goal charts in his final season in 2007/8.

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