It is hardly a surprise to find out that Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps club owe something to Lincoln City in its origins. The two not only share similar names (City’s nickname of course being the Red Imps) but also the Gibraltar club’s badge includes an imp similar in design to that used by City in the 1970s.
Lincoln Red Imps was formed in 1976 mostly drawing its players from the Blue Batons, a police youth team. Lincoln City may be currently languishing in the National League following relegation from the Football League in 2011, but 1975-76 was arguably the club’s best-ever season. Led by future England manager Graham Taylor, the Imps won the Division Four title in style creating what was then a new record points total of 74 (in those days two points were awarded for a win) and reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup, their best performance in the competition for over 50 years.
In August 1975, just before that season started there had been a boardroom shuffle at Sincil Bank, with Reg Brealey becoming one of six new men on the board and he was soon promoted to become vice-chairman.
Following their success the Imps were invited to take part in a four-team tournament in Gibraltar in May 1976 along with Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, a rare venture by the club into Europe. Graham Taylor’s team performed with credit, drawing with both Sheffield United and Blackburn and losing both games in penalty shoot-outs.
Ties between the Imps and Gibraltar were further cemented when City vice-chairman Brealey inspired a friend and business contact, Charlie Poulson, to establish the Lincoln Red Imps club. The agreement was that Brealey would offer the club a sponsorship deal as long as they named themselves after Lincoln, although they were not to use the name Lincoln City. So Lincoln Red Imps was born.
Some 40 years later it is Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps who are probably the better known club. Apart from spells under manager Colin Murphy in the 1980s the Sincil Bank club have come nowhere near equalling their exploits of 1975-76. In contrast Lincoln Red Imps have gone from strength to strength, winning the domestic title annually in recent seasons and featuring in the qualifying rounds for the Champions League. Yesterday evening they achieved the astonishing feat of defeating Celtic, the first British club to win the European Cup, 1-0 in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie.
… As for Reg Brealey, he remained on the Imps’ board until December 1977. In June 1980 he became a director of Sheffield United where he went on to serve as chairman from May 1981 until resigning in December 1990. He returned to Bramall Lane as chairman again in June 1993 remaining in that post until September 1995 and as a director until December 1995.