Despite not knowing who their Checkatrade Trophy opponents will be, Lincoln City fans have already snapped up a huge amount of tickets for the final on April 8th.
They went on sale to season ticket holders at 7pm last night, and speaking exclusively to Football league World, Chief Executive Liam Scully confirmed that they’ve already sold 10,000.
The controversial competition has provided Lincoln with their first ever visit to the national stadium, despite numerous brushes with it. In 1982 they reached the final of the Football league Trophy, but back then it was staged at one of the finalists home ground. Lincoln lost to a Millwall side featuring Sam Allardyce.
In 2003 they reached the Division Three play off final, losing 5-2 to AFC Bournemouth. However, Wembley Stadium was being rebuilt and the final took place in Cardiff. In 2005 they repeated that feat, only to once again play at the Millennium Stadium, this time losing 2-0 to Southend.
Last season they were once again within a whisker of appearing, a late penalty in the FA Trophy semi-final against York City eliminated them 3-2 on aggregate. They were also 90 minutes from an FA Cup semi-final appearance, although few expected a victory in the last eight at Arsenal. Still, as a non-league club the 5-0 defeat was far from shameful.
The figures coming out of Sincil Bank today seem huge in comparison to the previous play off appearances. In both 2003 and 2005 it is estimated that City took 15,000 although no official figures can be found to support that claim. Now, before general sale has even started, they’ve almost eclipsed that figure.
The Imps have gained a reputation for travelling well in recent times, in no small part due to the phenomenal turnaround experienced under manager’s Danny and Nicky Cowley. Last season they took a record number of away fans to Ipswich in the third round and over 9,000 to Arsenal in the quarter finals. They sold over 5,000 season tickets for their first season back in the league and followed that up by taking 4,000 fans to their derby against Notts County. It is fair to say a sleeping giant has been awakened in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire.
How sales progress from here, who knows. Liam tells me he’s personally hoping for in excess of 20,000 which would be superb for a small provincial club from a farming county. Whether that number can be reached, or even smashed remains to be seen but one thing is for certain: Wembley has captured the imagination of the city.
Whatever the pros and cons of the competition are, this is all about the long-suffering fans who have never seen their team play at Wembley. They’ve been drawn as the home team too, meaning they’ll run out in early April in their famous red and white stripes. How many fans will be there to cheer them on is anybody’s guess.
What do you think Lincoln fans? Will ticket sales break the 20,000 mark? re is this an early spike which will eventually level off to numbers more akin with the play off finals? Let us know in the comments below.
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