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Catching up: John Buckley

4 June 2020

As featured in our matchday programme, we caught up with the former Scottish midfielder John Buckley, who spent two campaigns with the Iron between 1991 and 1993, making 43 appearances.

After a lengthy spell at Rotherham, Buckley would enjoy a campaign back at Partick Thistle before joining Scunthorpe United in 1991, with the midfielder hitting six goals in 28 league appearances. He was part of the 1992 Division Two play-off final defeat against Blackpool at Wembley following a £20,000 bid.

“I was out of contract at Rotherham and I never signed a new deal. A Scottish club came back in for me, so I went back up there for about a year. In that time, I couldn’t sell my house and I had a bit of interest in England for me, and one of the clubs was Scunthorpe,” he said.

“I came down and spoke to Bill Green, who persuaded me to come and sign. I had a bad start at Scunny. My first three or four months were poor. I had not long had an injury and I hadn’t trained. Once I turned a corner, I think the supporters got behind me and then I became involved in quite a good period for the club. We got to Wembley and got done on penalty kicks. It was probably my introduction that was the only part that wasn’t great, but I enjoyed working under Bill Green, who has since sadly passed away.

“Graham Alexander came into the team and played at 18-years-old. You could just see that he had a bit of class. The play-off final defeat actually cost me £4,000. I had that written into my contract if we went up, so I felt a bit sick if I’m honest. I can remember it as though it was yesterday – it was myself and Tony Daws that they took off. We were gutted.

“There aren’t many places that I’ve been as a player where I’ve really enjoyed it. Richard Money was also manager during my time there before Rotherham came back in for me. I went back there for a short time before I got a bad head injury, which finished my playing career.

In what was only the fourth game of his return, Buckley suffered a clash of heads with Gary Poole, fracturing his skull in the process. It was to call time on the midfielder’s playing career, but more importantly would see him have to undergo a long and strenuous rehabilitation programme.

“I wasn’t well for a very long time,” he recalled.

“I had a head collision, ended up with two blood clots on my brain and was in hospital for a long time. I’m really fortunate to be here really, my whole family came down from Scotland and things really didn’t look great for me.

“After it happened, I spent over a year-and-a-half recovering, I was at a hospital unit three times a week, my memory had suffered and it was hard. The rehabilitation unit was brilliant for me in the way they helped me recover. From there, I stepped on and started coaching, and I’ve been coaching ever since.”

He still works in coaching at a local level and also does media work at Doncaster Rovers home games.

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