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Catching up: Sam Winnall

23 April 2020

As featured in a past programme, we caught up with former Iron striker Sam Winnall.

One of the stars of 2013-14, his 23 goals aided the Iron to promotion.

The Wolverhampton-born striker found himself without a club after a long affiliation with his boyhood club Wolves came to an end. Nevertheless, he was selected by Brian Laws to be awarded a contract following a successful trial and neither he, nor the team, looked back.

Sam, was the 2013-14 season one of the highlight campaigns of your career to date?
SW: Yes definitely. It was my first full season in the Football League and for it to be so successful not just for the team but on a personal level was very special. I’d just been released from Wolves without having any other club lined up. So to go from that to getting a promotion and a golden boot was definitely something I’ll never forget. That season helped me fall back in love with football.

I suppose you have the club to thank in part, in terms of bringing you in on trial and then offering you a contract. Is that how you see it now you've moved on?
SW: Yes for sure, I’ve always said I owe a lot to Scunthorpe as a football club. Brian Laws and Russ Wilcox both did everything they could to help me during my time at the club. It was a really tough time in my career because being without a club, going on trial from team-to-team is very daunting. You feel as if you won’t have a job come the start of the season. But thankfully Brian and Russ believed in me enough to offer me a contract and I’d like to think I repaid them with my goals.

In 2013-14, the team had just been relegated to League Two - did you always know you were coming into a side that were aiming to get promoted straight away? How was the club sold to you?
SW: When I joined I was just happy to be back involved at a football club. But in the dressing room we always felt that with the squad we have we should be challenging promotion. We had such a vast wealth of experience and quality that we knew we should really be there or thereabouts. We had quite a slow start but as November approached we started to hit full form and the rest was history. We had such a confidence within our squad, we never felt as if we were going to lose. That’s probably why we went on such an amazing unbeaten run.

The 2-0 home win over Mansfield was your debut. What are your memories of the game?
SW: That game will always live long in the memory. After being without a club I was so fired up to prove everyone wrong. I remember Brian Laws told me the day before I was starting and I was so nervous. But as soon as the game started I knew I was going to score, it felt like it was written in the stars. Then when I did score I couldn’t help but release all my emotion that had built up in me. It was a very special goal and one of my favourites in my career. My parents were there too and to score in front of them was amazing.

You obviously scored your first goal for the club - how did that feel and what is your memory of it
SW: To be honest, the goal was one of the easiest I’ve scored in my life. I just remember Terry Hawkridge playing a ball over the top and it being a race between me and the ‘keeper. I think I wanted to score so bad that I wanted to win the tackle more than the Mansfield keeper. Luckily the ball broke in my favour and I had the simple job of rolling it in the empty goal. Even though it felt like an eternity for it to hit the back of the net! But then the celebration was just pure emotion.

In terms of the stadium, what sort of memories do you have in terms of the atmosphere and what it was like to play there as an Iron player?
SW: My favourite thing about the stadium was how close the pitch was to the stands. It made the atmosphere so unique because you could hear everything that was being shouted at you - good and bad! But the atmosphere was always good, especially in the big games that season.

You finished the season with a runners up promotion medal and you were the top goalscorer in the league - how would you sum that up?
SW: Unbelievable, like I said earlier, it was my first full season in the Football League and for it to go the way it did was just incredible. I always had faith in myself to score goals at any level and it was the first chance I had to prove to everyone that I could do it consistently and then to win the golden boot was extra special. My team mates obviously played a huge part in that and helped me the whole way. So it was just an honour to have played a big part in the promotion. 

We obviously spoke to you a lot that season, pre-match and post-match, getting your views there and then, but how do you reflect on your time at Scunthorpe as a whole?
SW: I loved my time at Scunthorpe, albeit short, but very sweet. The club gave me a chance to prove myself and everybody involved with the club were so hospitable and friendly. And realistically that’s what players want. You want to work in an environment where you feel valued and are friendly with all the staff. It was like one big family whilst I was there and it was a pleasure to be apart of that. Every time I’ve been back since, the people around the club have been so welcoming. And that just shows that the club are full of good people.

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