Scunthorpe United F.C.

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Scunthorpe United
Scunthorpe United FC logo.svg
Full name Scunthorpe United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Iron
Founded 1899; 116 years ago (1899)[1]
Ground Glanford Park
Ground Capacity 9,088
Chairman Peter Swann
Manager Mark Robins
League League One
2014–15 League One, 16th
Website Club home page
Current season

Scunthorpe United Football Club is an English association football club based in the town of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire. It currently plays in Football League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

The team is nicknamed The Iron, and has played in a home strip of claret and blue for most of its history.[2] It plays its home games at Glanford Park, having moved from the Old Show Ground in 1988.[3] Grimsby Town, Hull City, Doncaster Rovers and Lincoln City are its main rivals,[3] although Doncaster are the only one of these clubs that currently plays in Scunthorpe's division. It is currently the only league club located in Lincolnshire.[4]

The club was formed in 1899, turned professional in 1912 and joined the Football League in 1950.[1] It achieved promotion to Division Two in 1958, where it stayed until 1964, but has spent most of its time as a Football League club in the basement tier.[5] The club has had more success recently, however: it was promoted from Football League Two in 2005, and has spent three of the last five seasons in the Football League Championship.[5] The Iron were relegated to Football League One in 2011, having finished bottom of the Championship.[6]

In recent years, the club has developed a reputation for developing promising young strikers,[7][8] having sold Billy Sharp, Martin Paterson and Gary Hooper on for seven-figure sums.[9] The club was also considered one of the most financially prudent in English football, being one of only three in the top four divisions to be debt-free. This status has recently changed after it was announced that a £2 million loan from the outgoing chairman Steve Wharton was on the accounts to help the club maintain some sense of financial stability.[10][11][12]


Early years[edit]

Chart of table positions of Scunthorpe in the Football League.

Scunthorpe United was formed in 1899.[1] In 1910 they merged with local rivals Lindsey United to become Scunthorpe & Lindsey United, and joined the Midland Football League in 1912.[1] After an unsuccessful application to join the Football League in 1921,[1] Scunthorpe & Lindsey won the Midland League in 1926–27 and in 1938–39.[13] When the 1939–40 season came to an abrupt end, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, Scunthorpe & Lindsey finished as runners-up in the second emergency competition, losing 3–2 to Peterborough United in an unofficial play-off game.[13]

After the end of the war, in 1945, Scunthorpe & Lindsey would re-apply to join the Football League at every opportunity.[1] The club finished as runners-up in the Midland League in 1947–48,[13] and in 1950 was accepted into the Football League, ahead of Workington and Wigan Athletic when the league structure was expanded.[1] The club's first game in Football League Division Three North was against fellow new entrants Shrewsbury Town.

Scunthorpe was the first club in England to build a cantilever stand, four years before Sheffield Wednesday's at Hillsborough.

A new home[edit]

In 1988 Scunthorpe United became the first English football club in the modern era to move to a new, purpose-built stadium, Glanford Park.

When it became apparent that the Old Show Ground needed significant investment to maintain its fabric and to make it comply with new regulations introduced in the wake of the Bradford City stadium fire (which the club was unable to make due to financial difficulties) the decision was made to relocate. The ground was sold to the former supermarket chain Safeway (now Sainsbury's) and the search was started for a new location.

Land was secured at an out of town site in what was then the administrative area of Glanford meaning that the new ground was outside the boundaries of Scunthorpe (although this changed with the re-organisation of local government in 1994 as both Scunthorpe Borough Council and Glanford Borough Council became North Lincolnshire Council).

At this time there were no grants available and the development had to funded with the cash from the sale of the Old Show Ground, sponsorship, directors' loans and bank loans. This lack of outsider cash means that Glanford Park was built in a rather simplistic, box-like style, with a significantly smaller capacity than the Old Show Ground.

The ground was so named because it was sponsored by the Glanford Borough Council. The site of the former ground is now home to a Sainsbury's store and can be found at the junction of Doncaster Road and Henderson Avenue. When the store was opened a plaque was laid where the centre-spot was, just in front of the delicatessen counter; the plaque has since been removed.

In 1992, the club made the third division play-off final, at Wembley, losing out eventually on a penalty shootout to Blackpool (see here).

The Brian Laws era: 1997–2006[edit]

In February 1997, following the end of Mick Buxton's second spell in charge of Scunthorpe United, Brian Laws, one of Buxton's signings to the club as a player, was appointed manager, with Mark Lillis (another Buxton signing) as his assistant.[14] In 1997–98, his first full season in charge, the Iron finished one point outside the play-offs.[15] The following season, the club finished fourth in Division Three.[16] This ensured qualification to the play-offs, which they won after a 3–2 aggregate win in the semi-finals over Swansea City[17] and a 1–0 win over Leyton Orient in the final at Wembley with an early goal from Alex Calvo-Garcia.[18] They were unable to maintain their Division Two status the following season, however, and were relegated after finishing in 23rd place.[19]

Scunthorpe started the 2004–05 season in Football League Two, but gained promotion to Football League One. The club was nearly relegated to the Conference National the season before. In the 2004–05 season they led Chelsea, the Premiership champions, 1–0, in the FA Cup 3rd round, but were denied eventually going down 3–1.

In the 2005–06 season, the club secured a mid-table League One finish. Young strikers Billy Sharp and Andy Keogh established themselves as the first-choice strike partnership, and scored 38 goals between them.[20] Again the club led away in the FA Cup third round at a Premier League club – this time, Manchester City – before eventually losing 3–1.[21]

After a successful start to the 2006–07 season, Laws was offered the job of manager at Sheffield Wednesday, which he accepted, ending almost a decade in charge of the Iron.[14]

Recent years: League One and beyond[edit]

Following Laws' departure, Physiotherapist Nigel Adkins was put in temporary charge; after obtaining good results his role was made permanent.[22] Fans responded with the chant "who needs Mourinho, we've got our physio".[23] Despite selling Andy Keogh to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the January transfer window, the club went on to win League One and with it promotion to the Championship that season,[24] in the process setting a club record 16-match unbeaten run[1] and accumulating 91 points.[25] Billy Sharp was the leading goalscorer in the top four divisions, netting 30.[26]

Billy Sharp was sold to Sheffield United before the start of the following season for a then-club record £2,000,000. Despite his ostensible replacement, Martin Paterson,[27] scoring 13 league goals,[28] Scunthorpe were unable to cement their place in the second tier of English football, and were relegated in 23rd place.[29] Paterson was sold to Burnley at the end of the season for a £1,600,000.[9]

The 2008–09 season saw Scunthorpe reach Wembley twice. The Iron qualified for the Football League Trophy final, but were beaten 3–2 after extra time by Luton Town.[30] The club then qualified for the League One play-offs through an 88th-minute equaliser by club captain Cliff Byrne against promotion rivals Tranmere Rovers on the last day of the regular season.[31] Scunthorpe beat MK Dons on penalties after a 1–1 aggregate draw in the semi-finals,[32] before beating Millwall in the Wembley final 3–2, with two goals from Matthew Sparrow and one from Martyn Woolford, to achieve promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking.[33]

In 2009–10, the Iron managed to retain their second-tier status, a feat no Scunthorpe side had achieved since 1963.[34] The campaign included a 2–1 home win over eventual champions, Newcastle United,[35] Scunthorpe's first appearance on UK terrestrial television in the FA Cup third-round 4–2 home defeat to Manchester City,[36][37] and Gary Hooper as the club's top scorer (and the Championship's third-highest) with 19 goals;[38] he was sold to Scottish club Celtic at the end of the season for £2,400,000.[39]

Seven games into the 2010–11 season, Nigel Adkins left his post as Scunthorpe manager to take over at Southampton.[40] Coach and former player Ian Baraclough was appointed as his replacement, but he was sacked half a year later after a slide into the relegation zone.[41] Former Scunthorpe defender Alan Knill was appointed from Bury with eight games of the season remaining,[42] but was unable to prevent the Iron from finishing bottom and returning to League One.[43]

Although Scunthorpe had been hopeful of immediate promotion back to the Championship, the club endured a difficult first half of the 2011–12 season, finding themselves just above the relegation zone at New Year[44] and knocked out in the first round of the FA Cup by League Two's A.F.C. Wimbledon[45] (although they did take Premiership Newcastle United to extra time in the League Cup[46]). They fared somewhat better in the second half of the season, embarking on a 10-match unbeaten run and in mid-table with four games to go.[47] They finished the 2011–12 season in 18th place with a total of 52 points.

The 2012–13 season started poorly for Scunthorpe, however a pleasing start in the first round of the League Cup saw the game finish, Derby 5–5 Scunthorpe, with Scunthorpe winning 7–6 on penalties. But as of 27 October they had only seen two league wins, one away, Shrewsbury 0–1 Scunthorpe, and one at home, Scunthorpe 1–0 Colchester. On 29 October 2012 Alan Knill was sacked as Scunthorpe United manager, after a 3–0 defeat to MK Dons. On the same day it was confirmed that ex-united boss Brian Laws would return after a 6-year absence from the club, along with former assistant manager Russ Wilcox.[48] Laws' first game in charge was a 4–0 defeat to Gillingham in the FA Cup, but this was followed by consecutive away wins against Walsall and Coventry in the league.

The start of the 2013–14 season saw Scunthorpe return to the Football League 2 after being relegated from League 1 in 2012–13. On 20 November 2013, following a 2–1 home defeat to local rivals Grimsby Town in the FA Cup, Brian Laws was sacked after a run of 5 games without a win.[49]

Russ Wilcox took over as manager around halfway through the season, and after a 28-game unbeaten run, ending in a 2–0 defeat to Exeter City, which broke the all-time football league record, Scunthorpe achieved instant promotion back to League One. Russ Wilcox was presented with the LMA League Two Manager of the Season whilst Sam Winnall picked up the Golden Boot with an impressive 23 goals. Wilcox also picked up a special merit award from Sir Alex Ferguson for his unbeaten start as manager.

Despite these accolades, Wilcox could not sustain momentum into the following season and was sacked in early October, with the club 23rd in League One, to be replaced by Mark Robins.

Divisional movements[edit]

Second Tier: 1958–1964, 2007–2008, 2009–2011

Third Tier: 1950–1958, 1964–1968, 1972–1973, 1983–1984, 1999–2000, 2005–2007, 2008–2009, 2011–2013, 2014–present

Fourth Tier: 1968–1972, 1973–1983, 1984–1999, 2000–2005, 2013–2014


Notable former players[edit]

  • Jack Bowers, England ex- Derby County, Leicester City. began his professional career in 1927 at Scunthorpe & Lindsey United club.
  • Kevin Keegan – twice European Footballer of the Year. Played for Liverpool and England, with subsequent managerial career including England and Newcastle United.
  • Ray Clemence – decorated goalkeeper. Played for Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and England.
  • Jack Brownsword – according to Sir Stanley Matthews, the best full-back in the Second Division, who played 597 games for United, scored numerous penalties (50 goals) and continued with the Club following his retirement as a player.
  • Barrie Thomas – A centre forward who scored a club record 30 goals in 22 league games in Division 2, before being sold in mid-season to Newcastle United.
  • Jack Haigh – the leading member of Scunthorpe's team throughout the 1950s, winning promotion to Division 2 in 1958 as the last winners of the Third Division North, before Divisions 3 and 4 were created.
  • Ian Botham – England cricket all rounder and charity distance walker played 11 games for Scunthorpe in 1980.

Players whose careers progressed in the professional game, or gained international honours have included:

Occasional celebrity player: Ian Botham (cricketer)

A number of former United players have become managers including:

More recently successful players include:


Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
4 England MF McAllister, SeanSean McAllister
5 England DF Mirfin, DavidDavid Mirfin
6 Republic of Ireland DF Canavan, NiallNiall Canavan
8 England MF Syers, DavidDavid Syers
9 Republic of Ireland FW Madden, PaddyPaddy Madden
10 Netherlands FW van Veen, KevinKevin van Veen
11 England MF Myrie-Williams, JennisonJennison Myrie-Williams
12 England MF Bishop, NealNeal Bishop
14 England MF Hawkridge, TerryTerry Hawkridge
16 England MF Adelakun, HakeebHakeeb Adelakun
19 Montserrat FW Taylor, LyleLyle Taylor
21 England GK Weaver, PatPat Weaver
No. Position Player
23 England FW Burdett, NoelNoel Burdett
25 England DF Boyce, AndrewAndrew Boyce
26 England GK Daniels, LukeLuke Daniels
27 Northern Ireland FW Kee, BillyBilly Kee
28 England MF McSheffrey, GaryGary McSheffrey
29 England MF Wootton, KyleKyle Wootton
31 England FW Sutton, LeviLevi Sutton
33 England DF Jordan Clarke
35 England MF Osbourne, IsaiahIsaiah Osbourne
38 England DF Mosanya, ReeceReece Mosanya
39 England GK Anyon, JoeJoe Anyon
Republic of Ireland MF Dawson, StephenStephen Dawson

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
No. Position Player


Position Name Nationality
Manager: Mark Robins England English
Assistant Manager: David Kelly Republic of Ireland Irish
Coach: Andy Dawson England English
Coach: Paul Musselwhite England English
Physio: Darren Mouatt England English
Centre of Excellence Co-Ordinator: Paul Harsley England English

Local rivals[edit]

Main articles: Humber derby and Lincolnshire derby

Scunthorpe's geographical region pits them against several professional clubs. Grimsby Town have traditionally been viewed as Scunthorpe's main rivals, however due to a contrast in fortunes the two clubs haven't met in the league since 2005. Though Grimsby have been the more successful of the two clubs Scunthorpe have had the better of the last 8 years. Another rival club from North of the Humber Estuary are Hull City. Games involving all three clubs are known as the Humber derby, where games with Grimsby are also counted as Lincolnshire derbies. Doncaster Rovers and York City are also viewed as rival clubs.

Another rival from the traditional county of Lincolnshire are Lincoln City. Also with Scunthorpe's slight rise to the second tier of English football rivalries with such clubs as Barnsley, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday emerged, although none of these clubs see Scunthorpe as a local rival. Other clubs in Lincolnshire such as Boston United and Gainsborough Trinity are in the clubs region but haven't played in the same league as Scunthorpe for years, as well as this there are a group of smaller non-league clubs in the Scunthorpe area such as Brigg Town, Bottesford Town, Appleby Frodingham and Winterton Rangers, games with these clubs however are normally contested in pre-season and aren't viewed as local derbys.



Record attendance (Old Showground)

Record attendance (Glanford Park)

The highest position: 4th in Second Division (1961–62)[52]

The lowest position: 24th in Fourth Division (1974–75)[citation needed]


Record victory

  • 8–1 v Luton Town, Division 3, 24 April 1965 Team: – Sidebottom, Horstead, Hemstead, Smith, Neale, Lindsey, Bramley (1), Scott, Thomas (5), Mahy (1), Wilson (1).[53]

Record defeat


Highest fees paid

  1. Rob Jones – Undisclosed from Hibernian[54]
  2. Martin Paterson – £335,000 from Stoke City[54]
  3. Paddy Madden – £300,000 from Yeovil Town[54]
  4. Kevan Hurst – £200,000 from Sheffield United[54]
  5. Jonathan Forte – £200,000 from Sheffield United[54]

Highest fees received

  1. Billy Sharp – £2 million to Sheffield United[54]
  2. Gary Hooper – Undisclosed to Celtic[54]
  3. Martin Paterson – £1.6 million to Burnley[54]
  4. Andy Keogh – £750,000 to Wolverhampton Wanderers[54]

Kit History[edit]

Dates Kit Supplier
1975–1976 Admiral
1976–1979 Bukta
1979–1982 Adidas
1982–1983 Hobott
1983–1985 Umbro
1985–1989 Hobott
1989–1990 Scoreline
1990–1992 Ribero
1992–1996 Alan Ward Sports
1996–2000 Mizuno
2000–2001 Super League
2001–2004 TFG Sports
2004–2010 Carlotti
2010– Nike
Dates Kit Sponsor
1983–1985 Scunthorpe E.Z.
1987–1994 Brikenden
1994–1998 Pleasure Island
1998–2000 Motek
2001–2005 HL Mercedes Benz
2005–2007 Hatfields Jeep
2007– Rainham Steel

Women's football[edit]

The women's football club, Scunthorpe United L.F.C., who play in the Northern Combination Women's Football League, is affiliated with Scunthorpe United F.C.


Scunthorpe United's official team mascots are the Scunny Bunny and the Scunny Hunny Bunny,[55][56] who wear the same claret and blue kit as the team's players do.


In 2006, the club's fans began a new football chant "Who needs Mourinho, we've got our physio" after Nigel Adkins, the club's former physio replaced Brian Laws as manager, eventually to lead United to promotion.[57]


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External links[edit]