Royce Franklin takes a nostalgic look back at how football has changed in the 67 years since he watched his first live match.
SUPPORTERS IN the Oldham area still talk about the ‘great escape’ which saw Latics win their last three games in season 1992/93 to retain their Premier League status. They beat Aston Villa away 1-0 and enjoyed subsequent victories against Liverpool (3-2) and Southampton (4-3). With the first, Latics ensured Manchester United were champions after being runners up to Leeds United the previous year.
No one can doubt the considerable achievement by Latics, but it comes not even a close second to Lincoln’s ‘great escape’ at the end of 1957/58 season. Lincoln were in the second tier for the sixth consecutive season.
On March 8, 1957 they were hosting Cardiff City. At half time they were losing 3-0 when a blizzard hit the ground. I was at the game and saw, despite the limited efforts by the groundstaff and the delaying of the re-start by 15 minutes, the game was abandoned with snow still falling.
On Easter Tuesday April 8, 1958 Lincoln went to Barnsley on the back of 18 games without a win. They were bottom of the league. Their last victory was the previous year on December 7 when they won 2-1 at Rotherham.
They were victors 3-1 at Barnsley and won the following five games to stay in the second tier for another three years. The last game was in midweek against Cardiff City. They went 1-0 down when a Cardiff player said to the Lincoln captain: ‘That’s put you in the third division’. When Lincoln went 2-1 up to eventually win 3-1 the retort by the Lincoln captain was ‘Quick promotion’. In those days there were only two relegated and Lincoln escaped by one point.
Such a sequence of events is unlikely to recur. In those days teams did not finish the season on the same day. The eventual clubs relegated were Notts County and Doncaster who had finished on the previous Saturday. Lincoln knew they had to beat Cardiff to stay up.
Question for Latics supporters’ as I write: ‘How many snow storms will it need to save them from relegation?’