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The Iron Vault: League Hat-trick Heroes #38

3 April 2020

We continue to take a look back at the hat-tricks that have been scored for the Iron since their admission to the league in 1950.

At the time of writing, there have been 41 trebles netted by United players in league games and we're going to delve into the Iron Vault to remember them and, if applicable, following the subsequent career of the player who scored it.

2008-09 Sep 6, 2008 Brighton and Hove Albion A W4-1 Woolford, Hooper (3)

The Iron's very first hat-trick as a league side came in their 11th game in Division Three North as Ted Gorin bagged all three strikes in a home win against Accrington Stanley.

For this issue though, we fast-forward 37 hat-tricks and 58 years later, with Gary Hooper notching a trio of strikes at the Withdean Stadium.

There were just 23 minutes between the three goals as the leading marksman made it six goals in five games with the strikes which ended the Seagulls' unbeaten run, with United being the first side to defeat them all season, following four wins and two draws in the opening six games.

It did start off as though the game would be remembered for Martyn Woolford's first league start for the club as he made the move from York City back to the Football League, as he notched within four minutes of the game, with the man who would later be taking home the match ball prominent in the early chance before Paul Hayes provided the assist.


Hooper, an avid golfer, headed straight for the 18-hole course to celebrate the rest of the weekend following his trio of strikes and another win for the club down south.

But it was his work on Saturday afternoon in what would be Scunthorpe's final ever visit to the Withdean Stadium that would grab the main headlines, as the side romped to victory.

Indeed, other than the reverse fixture, the Iron haven't faced Brighton again in any competition, this largely down to their upward motion which has seen them storm into the Premier League over the successive decade.

The former Southend striker's first of the afternoon came just as the clock ticked into first half stoppage time, picking up the ball on the right side of the area before shimmying across to line up with the goal before slotting low into the net.

Into the second half and his second came following a defensive error with a back header going into his path, again on the right side of the penalty area following a forward header by Grant McCann. Hooper sidestepped his marker just on entering the six-yard box and angled in a low drive across goal.

His third saw him played in by Hayes, taking one touch before firing to the 'keeper's bottom right corner, leaving him with no chance. The score was 4-0 and a number of the home supporters headed for home. They would get one back as a consolation, but it was a fourth consecutive win for the Iron.


Hooper, as most Iron fans well know, departed the club for Scottish Premier League side Celtic for a club record fee, reported at around £2 million, while other sources believed that figure would rise to £2.4 million.

At just 22-years-old, Hooper had a big move and wasn't even in his prime, despite showing glimpses of what was to come in his career. The step-up in class was going to be evident, looking at his debut, a Champions League qualifier. He'd score on his debut, and would score 82 goals in his 138 Celtic appearances, winning the SPL and Scottish Cup both on two occasions.

Next up was the Premier League with Norwich City, where his transfer fee again rose to a speculated £5 million, and then the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday - £3 million - before a move across water to play for Wellington Phoenix. His record leaving England was a staggering 226 goals in 550 appearances - a goal just over every two-and-a-quarter games.

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