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Once an Iron… Martyn Woolford

26 March 2020

Upon signing for the Iron from non-league York City in August 2008, few would have predicted the success Martyn Woolford would experience at the club.

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

Born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, Woolford played for local side Glasshoughton Welfare as a teenager before moving to Frickley Athletic in 2005.

After a successful season with the Blues, Marytn attracted interest from York and went on to score 23 times in 96 appearances for the club before transferring to United.

He kicked things off by telling us how his move to Scunthorpe came about.

“There was a little bit of interest in me from Cheltenham first of all, late on in the 2008 summer transfer window, and I’d actually gone down and spoken to their manager but Scunthorpe came in for me not too long after that and it all just seemed to happen quickly from there really,” he explained.

“I met Nigel Adkins and Lee Turnbull at a service station near where I live to have a chat with them and then I signed not too long after.

“I was playing non-league football with York City and all I wanted to do was to play in the Football League so obviously I was delighted to have received the interest, from Cheltenham first of all, and then even more so from Scunthorpe because they were in the league above Cheltenham at that time.

“Just prior to playing for York, I was working in a normal 9-to-5 job and I had to give it up to become a footballer which was a bit of a gamble because it was a well-paid job and football is a very short career but it was a risk that I thought was worth taking and it has worked out brilliantly for me.”

It’s every non-league footballers dream to make the transition to a Football League club so when the opportunity for Martyn to join United came up, it wasn’t something that he was going to turn down.

But as momentous as it was to make that first appearance in one of the top four divisions, he admitted that the overwhelming joy of the occasion makes it hard for him recall it all clearly.

“It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest but I remember that it was a home game against Peterborough, which we won 1-0,” he continued.

“I was a substitute and only came on for the last few minutes but obviously it was great to have made my first appearance in the Football League.

“I’d had quite a few knockbacks as a kid and sometimes you do have to think to yourself whether it’s ever going to happen but thankfully it did and now I’m all the better for it.

“I think I hit the ground running in the first few games which stood me in good stead for future matches and I managed to play some part in almost every game until the end of the season I think. I also scored a few goals as well which is always important as a winger because you do have to chip in every now and again so thankfully it all worked out for me.”

The midfielder spent two-and-a-half years in North Lincolnshire and was a key part of the 2008-09 promotion season which saw United promoted through the Play-Offs thanks to a 3-2 victory over Millwall in the final at Wembley.

Woolford played a helping hand in the first two Iron goals on the day, both scored by Matt Sparrow, before netting the winner with just five minutes to go in a game that he says he will always remember.

He added: “Getting promoted in the Play-Off final at Wembley during my first season with the club is something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

“We’d had a little taste of Wembley a couple of months earlier in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final which we unfortunately lost so to go from the disappointment of losing that game to finishing the season off in such a terrific stadium and in such a good way by getting promoted was amazing.

“It’s a day that I will always remember and I even managed to score the winning goal so it’s definitely the best moment of my career so far.

“Nobody really expected us to go on and get promoted because we qualified for the Play-Offs in the last minute of the last day of the season. Obviously behind closed doors we were always confident that we could do it but everybody else just completely wrote us off which actually worked in our favour in the end.

“The management team deserve a hell of a lot of credit as well because they made such a good job of forming the squad of players together in the first place and then building that into a hard-working side.”

The following season, Scunthorpe again managed to defy the odds by securing Championship safety with a dramatic point at home against Reading in April 2010.

But the next campaign after that was one of struggle for the Iron and after Nigel Adkins departed for Southampton, the results rapidly began to worsen so when the chance arose to join a more, at that time, stable Championship club, it was a move that Woolford simply couldn’t refuse. 

“It was a tough decision to leave Scunthorpe because it was in the middle of the season which wasn’t ideal. I would have preferred to have left at the end of the season and helped to try and keep the club up but in football, doors can open and then close very quickly and Bristol City couldn’t guarantee that the offer would have been there at the end of the season so it was a case of now or never really,” he reasoned.

“We were struggling in the league a little bit and I was the club’s top goalscorer so it did feel like a bad time to leave but from a personal point of view, I’m always looking to better myself and, like I say, doors can shut quite quickly in football so I am a believer in taking your chances as they come.

“It was a decision that I felt I had to make because taking the step up to a bigger club was my only option if I wanted to further my career.”

Woolford concluded with how he will always be grateful to the club that gave him his first chance of league football.

“Everyone that worked at Scunthorpe during my time there was unbelievably good to me and because it’s such a tightly knit run club, you do get to know everybody about the place,” he said.

“I met some really nice people and I learnt so much from the coaching staff so it means a hell of a lot to me that I got given the chance to play at the club and became so well accepted by everyone.”

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