Ending his season by adding another promotion to his CV, midfield man Sean McAllister was regarded as the fans' best player.He managed to claim a number of end of season awards, including the Ernie Storey Memorial player of the season trophy.
Signing a one year deal with the Iron, the unattached defensive midfielder failed to find a team for the beginning of the 2012/13 season – later joining Port Vale after personally enquiring about a vacancy at the side.
He left the team in January 2013, before signing for Scottish side Cowdenbeath for the remainder of the season in March. Aiding them to staying in the Scottish Second Division, McAllister returned to England and was snapped up by Brian Laws.
The former Sheffield Wednesday player featured 43 times in all competitions for the claret and blue side, returning from a rib injury on the final day of the campaign against York City – a target he set himself to end the season as part of the promotion squad.
Sean, you end your first season with Scunthorpe in promotion. Talk us through the campaign?
SM: Obviously, the season has finished exactly how we wanted it to. The target at the start of the season was promotion and we’ve ended up achieving it. It’s been a lot of hard work and the lads have put in a lot of effort. It’s not just promotion based on the unbeaten period. The points we earned at the start of the season are just important as the ones we got at the end of the season. Hopefully everyone has enjoyed this time and look forward to League One football.
How important was the 28 game unbeaten run in achieving promotion?
SM: I spoke to some lads from other clubs and they wanted to know when we were going to lose a game. It knocks their confidence as well, so it’s been very important to be constantly picking up points. We’ve worked just as hard for the draws as we have for the wins. There’s a bit of disappointment surrounding some of the draws, conceding last minute goals, but those points are just as important.
Until April, you were an almost ever-present in the side before picking up an injury. How good has it been to get so many games this season?
SM: When I was at Shrewsbury, I had a hernia injury and that took me out of the team at Christmas. It’s been nice to get a lot of games in this season. I have done a full season before at Sheffield Wednesday. This one is more frustrating, because it’s been an impact injury and there’s not a lot I could do about it. In my body, I’ve felt really well, thankfully we had that quality to come in and get us over the year.
You have been recognised by the fans by gaining various individual accolades for your efforts this season. How good is it to couple that with promotion?
SM: It’s very flattering and I’m delighted to get any award come the end of the season. I’m never one for individual awards; it’s all about the team and what they achieve. I can’t do my job if other players don’t do theirs. If the strikers don’t press the ball, I can’t read the play. If the defenders don’t win the headers, I can’t get onto the second balls and if the lads don’t give me angles on the pitch, I cannot keep the ball. I’m very grateful to be apart of the squad as I hope they’re grateful to have me in it.
In a season where there have been many high performing players, you have been recognised for a job which doesn’t often make the headlines. Who in the squad would get your vote?
SM: There have been a number of players who could have been in with a shout. We’ve got the league’s top goalscorer and if he doesn’t score, we don’t win the games. I’ve always believed promotion is built on a good defence. No matter what team you are, if you are conceding, you don’t get promotion. Sam Slocombe takes some credit in that, making vital saves and saving a few penalties. Mirf has been solid at the back, while Eddie and Naz haven’t got as much credit as they deserve. They’ve been very consistent. You can say it about any player; Dave Syers has ten goals from midfield and scored important goals. That’s just naming a few – everyone has played their part. Going back to the start of the season Etienne has scored vital goals which has got us the points, while Chris Iwelumo got a goal at Southend, Luke Waterfall at Chesterfield. Every point has been vital; so you can’t not include those players as everyone has played their part. It’s rare you get the headlines in my role, but I know what I do is successful. I’ve not been in a team I’ve played regularly at where we’ve not achieved our target. At Sheffield Wednesday we finished in the top half of the Championship, at Shrewsbury we got promoted and at Cowdenbeath we avoided relegation. Now Scunthorpe joins that list. I know it’s a role that is overlooked, but every team has one. You can see that in the PFA League Two Team of the Year. If you actually put that team out, you’d have trouble because no one would be doing the dirty work. They’re all midfielders who have scored goals. In their team, they will have a player doing a similar job. Thankfully, the manager here sees that and that’s all that matters to me and hopefully the lads appreciate that.
Brian Laws brought you into the club when you could quite easily have been without a club. How much do you look back to that?
SM: After the year I had last year, I could have been looking at a different career path completely. You find yourself ringing clubs up and saying I got a promotion last season and I was apart of that promotion squad. It was only up to Christmas that I played, but I played every game before that. The lads that played the back end of the season went onto get promoted and some of them signed for high League One teams like Preston. It was about trying to tell people what I could do and that I was apart of the promotion squad. Sometimes I think it might come down to my height. I was very grateful to get the opportunity to show what I could do and there are a few managers I called last season that I have proved a point to as well – and they’ve acknowledged that.
Having met all of your targets in the past with other clubs and this season with Scunthorpe, what do you think the target will be for the side in League One next season – taking into account the players that have already proved themselves at this level and the Championship?
SM: For any squad that has been promoted, the first aim is to stay in the league and get to the 50 point mark. From there, you get beyond that and anything is a bonus. That’s an immediate target, but you never know what can happen in a season. I think we are well suited to going up and playing in League One as a lot of players have played at a higher level. You look our record against the higher sides in this league and we’ve produced better performances and better results against better sides. That bodes well and it is vital to keep the squad together. It’s knitted well and everyone gets along. I’m sure there’ll be a few additions as well and we all have full trust in Russ to bring in the quality he needs. Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves in League One next season. Generally there is more football played the higher you go, so hopefully that falls into our favour. The sides that play good football are the ones that generally get promoted from League Two nowadays – you don’t see many sides get promoted playing the old League Two way anymore.
Do you see yourself in claret and blue, playing League One football for the 2014/15 season?
SM: I hope so, yes. Obviously, I’m out of contract, so that’s up to the board and the manager and hopefully we can get something sorted. At this time, discussions haven’t commenced and I don’t know whether I’ll get offered anything anyway. You hope you’ve done enough, but a lot of players are out of contract. Only six or seven players are under contract. Hopefully the squad can stay together, because we’ve got a decent core to the side that have competed in that league and higher before.