Lincoln City FC, affectionately known as the Imps, is our city’s biggest football club and among the oldest in England. Match days in Lincoln are always a special time, when the streets around LNER Stadium on Sincil Bank are engulfed with the famous red and white home colours. Are you thinking of tasting the atmosphere by coming along to a game while visiting Lincoln? Or perhaps you’re attending for the first time as an away fan? In this comprehensive guide, we cover everything you need to know about seeing Lincoln City FC play for the first time.
The club provided me and Lisa with complementary tickets for a typical Saturday 3pm home game, when Lincoln City faced former Premier League side Portsmouth in a League One encounter. This gave us a chance to get immersed in the pre-match buzz at the University of Lincoln Fan Village and check out the facilities before seeing the Imps in action.
This site contains links to some services we love and recommend, which we may make commission from at no extra cost to you.
Lincoln City: a 60-second history
Before we get into the match-day details, first timers at a Lincoln game might want to know some basics about the club’s history. After all, the Imps’ long legacy is a constant undercurrent that feeds the buzzing atmosphere on match days.
Today, Lincoln City compete in League One, which is the third tier of the English football league system. This makes the Imps the highest-performing football team in Lincolnshire (sorry Grimsby and Scunthorpe fans!). But the club’s history has been marked by many ups, downs, highs and lows over the years.
Lincoln City FC was officially formed in 1884, and became a professional club seven years later. In 1892 they were a founding member of the old Second Division, which was the second tier of English football. A fifth-place finish in 1902 in this division remains the highest league finish in the club’s history.
A trickle of league and cup wins over the years have padded out Lincoln City’s trophy cabinet. The Imps have been champions of the third, fourth and non-league tiers of English football multiple times as they have yo-yoed between the divisions.
Troubling times came in 2002, when the club suffered financial difficulty and went into administration. Many players left, and the Imps were expected to be relegated the next season. Instead, they made the playoff final and were nearly promoted, and the players were welcomed back to the city as heroes.
The legendary 2017 FA Cup run
The 2016-17 season stands out as the most remarkable in Lincoln City’s history. Against all odds, the Imps made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, becoming the first non-league team in over 100 years to reach that stage of the competition.
The incredible run included an away win at Premier League Burnley. You can see the highlights of that famous day here:
The adventure eventually ended with a defeat against high-flyers Arsenal. But the celebrations soon continued, as later that season the Imps secured their promotion back into the football league.
Why “The Imps”?
Lincoln’s City FC’s nickname is one that has become synonymous with the city in general. It hails from the legend of the Lincoln Imp, a grotesque that lives inside the walls of Lincoln Cathedral.
The imp is fabled to have wreaked havoc around the city before being turned to stone by angels. It’s a legend that now lends itself to many local businesses, for example the Imp & Angel pub that is close to the football ground.
Our guide to Lincoln Cathedral features some more background about the imp and how you can see it during your visit.
LNER Stadium: home of the Imps
LNER Stadium is the place where the magic happens. The 10,780-capacity stadium, formerly known as Sincil Bank (and still called that by many fans), has been the home of Lincoln City since 1895.
The stadium is located on the south side of Lincoln, about a kilometre south of the city’s main train station. Sincil Bank is actually the name of a water drainage way and road that runs past the stadium and towards the city centre.
The residential area around the ground has been the subject of an art project in recent years that has seen some walls of houses transformed into giant colourful murals. See if you can spot any before heading to the ground! You can find some more background about the Sincil Bank Art Project artworks in our guide to street art in Lincoln.
How to get to LNER Stadium
If you are arriving by train and then walking, LNER Stadium is about a 15-minute walk from Lincoln train station. The postcode for the stadium is LN5 8LD.
The quickest way is to cross the footbridge over the railway lines and then just follow the Sincil Bank waterway south until you reach the ground. From the city centre, you can also walk down the High Street and then cut left across to Sincil Bank along one of the connecting roads.
If you’re driving, the best place to park is at the 250-space South Common Car Park, a local green area that is repurposed as a parking space on match days. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the ground and is £5 to park for the match. You need to book online in advance to guarantee a space. The postcode for the car park is LN5 8LN.
Some city centre car parks offer discounts on Lincoln City match days. Check out the latest match day parking information on the club’s website.
How to buy tickets for Lincoln City matches
Tickets for Lincoln City home fixtures go on sale around five weeks before the match. The best way to buy tickets for games at LNER Stadium is online at www.eticketing.co.uk/imps. This will ensure you don’t miss out, and will give you the best choice of seating.
You can often buy tickets on match day from the ticket office at the ground, which is in the Club Store behind the SRP Stand. But this is subject to availability.
How much do tickets cost?
The general pricing for Lincoln City tickets in the 2023/24 season is as follows:
- Adults: £24 (+£1 for GBM/SRP stands)
- Concessions (18–21, 65+ or disabled): £19 (+£1 for GBM/SRP stands)
- Junior (under 18): £10
The £1 extra for tickets in the GBM and SRP stands is the only increase on 2022/23 ticket prices.
Which stand is the best to choose?
The experience of a Lincoln City home match will be different depending on which part of the stadium you choose. If you book online, you will have the advantage of selecting your seat using a stadium map, making it easier to hand-pick the best spot. Here’s a quick overview of each of the main four stands:
- GBM Stand. This is the largest stand, which faces back onto Sincil Bank. It is also the noisiest! Especially at the northern end of the stand, the side that adjoins the Stacey West Stand. If you want to be right in among the songs and chants on match day, look for tickets in WU7 (upper) or WL7 (lower).
- SRP Stand. This is opposite the GBM Stand, and it’s where the media and broadcast cameras are located at the top, so you’ll be getting the same perspective as when the highlights of the game are shown on TV. Look for seats closer to the half-way line for a great, full perspective of the pitch. We prefer to sit higher up for a broader view, but in both the SRP and GBM stands the lower seats do bring you extremely close to the action!
- Rilmac Stand. This is behind the goal on the west side, and it’s right next to Poacher’s Corner, the family area. It’s a bit quieter than other parts of the stadium and is naturally a good place to attend for the first time if you’re attending with kids.
- Stacey West Stand. This is behind the goal on the east side, and is usually where away supporters are seated.
The special atmosphere of Lincoln City match days
When there’s a Saturday home game at the LNER Stadium, the atmosphere builds up around Sincil Bank and Lincoln High Street as the clock ticks towards 3pm.
Fans spill out onto the street from nearby pubs, and a slow trickle of red-and-white clad supporters make their way down towards the ground to soak up the buzz in the Fan Village.
Saturday or midweek games: which are best?
We’ve been to Lincoln City games both at weekends and midweeks in the past. Both experiences bring something a little different, and are fun in their own ways.
Midweek evenings bring that special feeling of a match played under floodlights. There’s a particular excitement about wrapping up warm for an evening game in the winter months and having some hot food before the match kicks off.
Saturday games are the busiest and liveliest, usually drawing the highest attendances. These are whole-day events when you can really take time to soak up the atmosphere in the city and around the ground before the match.
University of Lincoln Fan Village: the buzz before the game
For us, the Fan Village is the best part of the match-day experience. Crowds gather in this dedicated area behind the Rilmac Stand on the west side of the stadium, where there are outdoor bars, food stalls, interviews with personalities from Lincoln City’s past and present, merchandise stores and entertainment for kids.
Former Lincoln City legend Paul Mayo was one of the star local interviewees on stage as we walked through the village. He played more than 150 times for the Imps during a successful career, including in that famous playoff final defeat to Bournemouth in 2003.
The choice of food in the Fan Village is brilliant! We almost felt like we were back at Lincoln Christmas Market with the array of hot food stalls hosted by local businesses. I had a delicious burger and Lisa went for some chilli, cheese and chips. But there were also some international food options, from curries to German sausages.
This really makes the experience at LNER Stadium stand out from other grounds I’ve visited, where it’s often just a choice of a burger or a pie.
Also… keep an eye out in the Fan Village for the official mascot, the big red Lincoln Imp!
Keepsakes from the match
You might want to buy some memorabilia to take away from LNER Stadium, especially if it’s your first match experience. There is an official merchandise store right near the entrance to the Fan Village, as well as the official Club Store behind the SRP Stand, where you can find Lincoln City apparel, scarves, flags, and all sorts of accessories.
Match-day programmes are on sale in the store too, as well as from vendors inside the stadium. This mini-magazine sets the scene for the match, with information about the teams and build-up interviews.
We treated ourselves to a couple of classic red-and-white Imps scarves and a match-day programme to take away from the Lincoln City vs Portsmouth game.
What time do things happen on match day?
The match day experience at LNER Stadium gets going about three hours before kickoff, when the Fan Village opens and restaurants start serving food.
If you’ve got some spare time before heading to the ground, check out our article on things to do in Lincoln for activity ideas around the city. There’s lots to see and explore if you want to make a day of it!
We arrived for the home game vs Portsmouth about 90 minutes before kick-off. This gave us a nice amount of time to soak up the atmosphere in the Fan Village, have some food and a drink or two, and buy a match-day programme and some merchandise before getting seated inside the ground.
Bars at the ground also start screening live football from earlier kick-offs soon after the Fan Village opens. Ahead of the game we enjoyed a drink in the Centre Spot Tavern, a large indoor bar with plenty of seating and big screens, which you can enter from the Fan Village.
It’s best to start heading through the gates to your seats no later than about 15 minutes before kick-off.
What to know during the game
Once you have passed through the appropriate gate, had your tickets scanned and stepped inside the ground, you’re all set! You can make your way to your seats and enjoy the match. But be aware, you won’t be allowed to leave and re-enter.
With nearly 11,000 people packed into the ground on busy match days, the mobile signal is weak during the game. If you need to make any calls or use the internet for something important, make sure you do it before you enter the ground.
Lincoln City has one of the friendliest atmospheres of any football ground I’ve visited. It’s incredibly unlikely that you will experience any abuse, but if it does happen, then you can text the safe number on 07718 483367 to report it.
At the end of the game, it doesn’t take very long to get out; the stadium empties within a few minutes. So, unless you need to be somewhere urgently, we don’t think it’s worth leaving before the game has finished.
Up for a drink after the game?
After the final whistle has blown, there are some cracking pubs near the ground where you can keep revelling in the post-match atmosphere. Which is especially good if the Imps have got a positive result!
Our favourite in the area is the Golden Eagle, a real ale pub on the High Street that is just a five-minute walk from the ground. There’s also a good atmosphere here in the hours leading up to a game if you want to go for pre-drinks before hitting the Fan Village.
The Imp & Angel is another awesome little place, even closer to the ground. It’s a micro-pub that serves an array of craft beers and ales.
Both of these are featured in our guide to the best real ale pubs in Lincoln, which you can check out for some more ideas on where to grab a drink after the game.
Where to stay for Lincoln City matches
Making a weekend of it? Lincoln has a great selection of homely guest houses, B&Bs and hotels.
Creston Villa Guest House is one of our personal favourites near Sincil Bank. This welcoming bed and breakfast is less than ten minutes’ walk from the stadium, and is run by local couple Iain and Anna who will always welcome you warmly!
If you want to stay somewhere in the city centre, then the Old Palace is a fantastic option. It’s a boutique-style guest house set inside a repurposed 19th century church, and its hillside location offers lovely views while being a short walk to attractions in the Cathedral Quarter.
We’d love to hear about your experiences at LNER Stadium. Do you have a story to share, or did we miss something in this guide? Let us know in the comments below.