Lincoln City makes the historic trip to Premier League Arsenal on Saturday for their FA Cup Quarter Final match, kick off 5.30pm (BT Sport).
The sold-out occasion will see almost 9,000 Lincoln fans travel to London for the biggest cup tie in the club’s history. Thousands of fans have missed out on tickets for Lincoln’s first ever appearance at this stage of the competition.
Arsenal were the first side to ever play against Lincoln at Sincil Bank, in September 1895. The two teams have taken very different paths since then, but on Saturday our local side have earned the right to take to the pitch as equals.
The Imps have embarked on a fairy-tale cup run that has seen them beat Championship sides Ipswich and Brighton as well as Premier League Burnley.
They go into the game having lost just twice in their last 33 games, whilst Arsenal have lost their last two matches, albeit against Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
Lincoln are the in-form side, but there’s the small matter of five divisions and a host of world class players that swings the tie in the Gunners favour. The could field Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil against the Imps, in what has become a ‘must win’ match for them.
That said, reports that Arsenal players have been struck down with a sickness bug could also play a part.
Lincoln will fly the flag for non-league football with dignity.
There will be no controversial pie eating goalkeepers and no crass sponsorship. The magic of the cup will be kept alive not by gimmicks, but by a well-managed and hard-working football team.
Even if the unthinkable does happen and Arsenal spring a surprise win, there is still a chance of a Wembley visit for City; they play York home and away next week for a place in the FA Trophy final.
Whatever the result come 8pm, the whole of Lincoln should be incredibly proud of the amazing achievements of its football team.
Hundreds of Imps supporters are getting ready to go depart for London ahead of the Arsenal FA Cup match pic.twitter.com/SlooMIbxWm
— The Lincolnite (@thelincolnite) March 11, 2017
Gary Hutchinson is an experienced Lincoln-based sports writer who runs the Stacey West blog.