Even in defeat, Lincoln made history. No one can take that away from the Imps – the first non-league team to make it to the quarter finals of the FA Cup in 103 years.
Some bookmakers had Lincoln to win at 50/1 against Arsenal. But this is the FA Cup and if the previous games in this season were anything to go by – anything could happen.
Last Saturday over 9,000 locals travelled to the Emirates Stadium, while it was a full house in every pub and bar back in the home city.
For those 90 minutes the eyes of Lincoln were fixated on the impossible challenge, while those who were turned away raced back home to their televisions.
In the first half, Lincoln looked unfazed by the Gunners, despite Arsene Wenger deploying his world-class first team.
The Imps offered a frustratingly sound defence for 45 minutes, until their luck ran out in stoppage time. Despite Walcott’s goal, everyone still held out hope for the second half, but the game soon began to unravel for the visitors. The reality of playing a team four divisions above them had set in.
At the final whistle a deeply disappointing yet not unsurprising 5 goals passed Lincoln’s Paul Farman, courtesy of Oliver Giroud (53′ minutes), an own goal from Luke Waterfall (58′ minutes), and two other goals from Alexis Sánchez (72′ minutes) and Aaron Ramsey (75′ minutes).
The fans however were not defeated, with spirited chants ringing out until the very end. It was a monumental success just making it this far.
Joe Burton, a lifelong fan of Lincoln City recalls the successful season and what it was like attending the historic match:
“Lincoln sang loud throughout the full 90 mins and we sang through all 5 of their goals with Arsenal’s atmosphere seemingly non-existent. Only 5 short roars, one for each their goals.”
“The talent the Cowley’s have brought in and the way they’ve got them playing coupled with the fantastic atmosphere has meant that watching Lincoln City this season has been a joy… and as shocking as these results have been for the neutral, us Imps have seen the progression and began to expect to win every game. So, when we came up against Oldham, Ipswich, Brighton, Burnley and play the way we do… we had the belief we could win. Arsenal was just a step too far.”
To some it felt like a dream and just like Joe, many fans are pinching themselves wondering if it all really happened. It did.
“The spirit is phenomenal and the belief they instil in the players and fans that Lincoln City can win any game with the right attitude is what I’ve been waiting years for….” Said Joe.
Yes, Lincoln City are out of the FA Cup, but no one can take away their accomplishments. They unified a city, with the support of every citizen and business. They have achieved more than anyone expected, with an insatiable team spirit. Now the season moves on as Lincoln City face York City at home on the 18th March in the FA Trophy, as they look to continue their momentum with their inspired fans (including Joe) cheering them on.