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#42 - Dick Neal

Posted on: Thu 28 Jun 2007

Name: Richard Marshall Neal
Seasons Played: 1954/55-1956/57, 1963/64-1964/65
Position: Left-half
Date of Birth: 01.10.1933
Birthplace: Dinnington, Sheffield
League Debut: 11.09.1954, Ipswich Town (a), Div 2
League Games: 156
League Goals: 15
Career: Dinnington Miners Welfare, Wath Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers, LCFC, Birmingham City, Middlesbrough, LCFC, Rugby Town, Hednesford Town.


Dick Neal was one of the best players to appear for the Imps in the post-war period and remains to this day the only Lincoln player to have represented England above youth level.

As a tall well-built attacking wing-half, Neal won three England U23 caps while on City's books in the 1950s and added a fourth cap after his move to Birmingham City.

He first came to prominence as an inside-forward with the Rother Valley Boys team before signing for Wath Wanderers who were a Yorkshire-based nursery club for Wolves.

He impressed enough to win a professional contract at Molineux moving to the Midlands at the same time as Ron Flowers, a future England international. Neal was converted to wing-half and progressed into Wolves' reserve team but never made the first team.

On the transfer list at the end of the 1953/54 season, Neal joined the Imps rather than opting for a move to Liverpool and after just a handful of games for City's second string in the Midland League he was promoted to the first team when manager Bill Anderson decided to restructure his side early in thr 1954/55 season.

Bobby Owen and Doug Wright, two long-serving players who had been with the Club wince the late 1940s, went out and in came Neal along with Fred Middleton to form the famous Middleton-Emery-Neal half-back line for the Imps.

Neal missed just one League game over the next three years and his consistent performances earned him a reputation as one of te finest wing-halves in the Second Division.

His talents were recognised by England manager Walter Winterbottom and he was called up for an England Under-23 match against Denmark in September 1956.

Lincoln's fortunes were on the up after finishing eighth in Division Two in 1955/56 which was their highest final position since the turn of the century. But the following season things took a turn for the worse and the Club suffered a shock FA Cup defeat at the hands of Peterborough United, then a non-League team.

Attendances dropped below 10,000 and with the Imps already operating on a shoestring budget they were forced to sell Neal after Birmingham City offered the then large fee of £15,000 together with Bert Linnecor.

Neal went on to play over 200 first team matches for Birmingham and appeared in two campaigns in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup (forerunner of the UEFA Cup) while at St Andrews.

A move to Middlesbrough followed in 1961 but a series of injuries restricted him to just 33 appearances in two seasons and in the summer of 1963 he returned to Sincil Bank.

During his time away City had dropped into Division Four but under Neal's leadership the Club began to show signs of a revival. In his first campaign back at the Club there were hopes of winning promotion until a series of poor results over Easter saw them drop back to mid-table.

Unfortunately the Club's financial position worsened and Neal was forced to move on again, this time to Rugby Town. He spent a season at Rugby and then became player-manager at Hednesford Town. Brief spells followed at Brierley Hill and Blakenall before he retired.

Neal later worked as a free trade rep for a brewery before taking a pub in Staffordshire in 1975 where he remained until retiring in 1991.

Profile adapted from an original article that appeared in the official Lincoln City FC match day programme, season 1998/99.

Dick Neal
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