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Once an Iron... Martin Carruthers

8 April 2020

Despite spending just two years at the club, there aren’t too many former Iron strikers that have a better goals to game ratio at the club than Martin Caruthers.

During the coming days, we'll republish past interviews with former Iron players from our matchday programme.

He scored 34 goals in 80 league starts for United midway through Brian Laws’ first spell in charge.

He began by explaining to us firstly about how his transfer to Scunthorpe came about.

“The opportunity to come and play for Scunthorpe arose so I drove up to the club and it all went on from there really,” he said.

“It was March 2001, I was at Southend at the time and I wanted to move back up north because I was just about to have my first child and Scunthorpe seemed like the ideal club for me as I knew a few of the lads that were already there, in particularly Russ Wilcox who I played with at Hull.

“I’d known Russ for a number of years and I knew that he was a very good coach so his influence was definitely one of the main reasons that I decided to sign for the club.

“At the time, Southend had nothing to play for but Scunthorpe were pushing for the Play-Offs so it was a good opportunity for me to join an up and coming side that were challenging for promotion.

“I made my debut away at Darlington a couple of days after I’d signed for the club, I remember playing quite well in the game and I had a couple of good half chances that, on another day, could have gone in.

“I did keep plugging away and I eventually scored my first goal for Scunthorpe against Carlisle United at home.

“The hardest thing is to get that first goal for your new club because once you’ve got that it relaxes you massively and it just takes a whole load of pressure off you so it was great to finally get my first goal for Scunthorpe and it was onwards and upwards for me from there.”

During a period of just over two years at the club, there’s one memory that stands out firmly from the rest for Carruthers.

He was part of the Iron side that beat Carlisle in an FA Cup second round replay in 2002, to earn the club a glamour tie with then Premier League side Leeds United.

And Martin admitted it was a brilliant occasion to have been part of, despite the result.

“My best memory at the club would probably be the FA Cup second round replay away at Carlisle in 2002 because the draw for the third round had already been made and we knew that if we managed to beat them then we’d have a home match against Leeds to look forward to,” he continued.

“Leeds were still challenging for the Champions League at the time and had many top players so the prospect of playing them was something that excited us all.

“We beat Carlisle 1-0 and I scored the winning goal to earn us a place in the next round so that was probably the highlight of my time with Scunthorpe.

“What I found during my career was that there were always one or two clubs that, no matter how badly you played, you were always destined to score and Carlisle was a team that I always seemed to have a pretty good record against.

“We lost 2-0 in the next round against Leeds at home but they were a top team and even though it would have been great to have caused an upset, we didn’t disgrace ourselves and it was just a case of them having too much quality out on the pitch for us to handle.

“I remember getting Danny Mills’ shirt after the game which was nice and it was a great occasion for the club because they received a good financial boost so despite the result, it was a fantastic day all round.”

The United team back then had some experience but also included a few up and coming youngsters, and Carruthers believes that the calibre of player at the club during his time in claret and blue was a major influencing factor towards his success in the final third.

“I played with many good experienced players at Scunthorpe, who all enjoyed good careers in their own right,” Martin explained.

“The likes of Lee Hodges, Steve Torpey, Peter Beagrie, Andy Dawson and Alex Calvo Garcia were all at the club so it was great to have played with so many good players.

“Then there were a few younger lads that had come through the ranks like Matt Sparrow, Nathan Stanton, Lee Ridley and Jamie McCombe who were at the beginning of their careers at that time.

“Credit has to go to Brian Laws and Russ Wilcox for producing those type of footballers and giving them a chance in the first team which eventually helped them to succeed in the game.”

In the summer of 2003, Carruthers’ contract at the club expired and he was forced to make the decision to move on.

The striker eventually joined Macclesfield but stressed that he will always remember his time at Scunthorpe fondly.

He added: “I came to the end of my contract with Scunthorpe and Macclesfield made me a really good offer financially.

“I was coming to the end of my career so it was an important deal for me and even though I would have loved to have stayed at Scunthorpe, the offer from Macclesfield was too good to turn down and so I moved on.

“Scunthorpe United is a brilliant club and I enjoyed every minute of my time there. We had the nucleus of a very good side, the management was really professional and we were always up there challenging for promotion.

“It was a real pleasure to play under Brian and Russ because they were always so dedicated to helping the team develop and the job they did at Scunthorpe during my time there under all of the financial restrictions was commendable.”

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