With 43 goals in 124 games, Jamie Forrester experienced one of the most prolific spells of his career at Scunthorpe United.
|During the coming days, we'll republish past interviews with legendary former Iron players from our matchday programme.|
After leaving school, Forrester travelled abroad to sign for French side Auxerre before moving back to English shores and joining Leeds United.
Jamie then transferred to Grimsby Town where he worked under Brian Laws and when Laws first went on to take the reins at Glanford Park, there was one man at the top of his shopping list.
“Brian Laws was sacked at Grimsby and then took over at Scunthorpe and I believe I was one of his first signings for the club,” Jamie said.
“I wasn’t in any of the plans at Grimsby but Brian was really keen on bringing me to Scunthorpe and ended up pushing the boat out to get me as such.
“He signed me at Grimsby and made every effort to do so again for Scunthorpe which meant a lot.
“I didn’t particularly want to drop down to that level but Brian promised me that I would play every week and it genuinely turned out to be a really successful move for me, though it may never have happened had he not got the sack from Grimsby.”
After a mid-table finish in his first season at the club in 1997-1998, the emphasis was on targeting promotion the following campaign.
Alex Calvo-Garcia’s goal in the Play-Off final at Wembley against Leyton Orient ensured just that but Jamie finds it hard to pinpoint the exact reason for such a successful year.
“We had a poor season the year before so we were under a bit of pressure to get promoted and things just seemed to click for us,” he continued.
“We’d underachieved the year before and my contract was running out so I personally needed to have a good season and I think Brian needed to have a good one too, which thankfully we did.
“We seemed to just be using the right formation, we got the right balance and we scored quite a lot of goals.
“We were very attacking and often played with myself, John Gayle and John Eyre up front so we were quite entertaining to watch as well.
“I remember it being a really exciting season and we really just had a ‘we’ll score more than you’ type of attitude which seemed to work for us.”
Strikers are always judged on the amount of goals they score and nobody could argue with Forrester’s return during that promotion winning season.
He netted 23 times as the Iron were promoted into what is now League One and Jamie was pleased to have contributed so much towards the success of the team.
He said: “I was obviously very pleased to be doing my bit for the team and I think a lot of that was due to the fact that I was playing every week.
“I started the season quite well and my confidence grew from there. I was one of three forwards and it just seemed to work for me personally.
“Andy Dawson would usually play behind me and helped me out defensively and John Gayle made a massive difference up front as we could get the ball up to him and he’d link up the play.
“I was brought in by Brian to score goals and coming from a higher division, there was a lot resting on me but the team was very attack minded and I think that helped me to score as many goals as I did.”
After excelling as much as he did in front of goal with United, Forrester was always going to attract interest from other teams.
Perhaps surprisingly, Dutch side Utrecht were the club to acquire the strikers services in June 1999 and Jamie admitted that it was a move he just simply couldn’t turn down.
He explained: “An agent from Holland got in touch with me about the move and it was a big step up so I couldn’t really turn it down.”
“I was very happy at Scunthorpe and I would have loved to have stayed because things were going really well. We achieved promotion to the third tier and I just really enjoyed my time at the club.
“But it was one of those opportunities that don’t come around too often for a lower league player and it was something that I just had to go for.
“Going from the fourth division in England to the Dutch Premier League was a massive step up and I was offered a three-year-contract so I just couldn’t say no.”
Forrester went on to enjoy spells at the likes of Northampton, Hull, Bristol Rovers and Lincoln and was equally as fruitful as his career went on.
But the Bradford born forward rates his time in claret and blue as one of the most successful stints of his career.
“The 1998-1999 season with Scunthorpe was certainly one of my best, definitely in terms of goals scored,” he added.
“I was at my peak around that time and probably played some of the best football I ever did throughout my whole career.
“I also scored a few during the 2000-2001 season, my first year back in England, with Northampton after leaving Utrecht and I’d say that those two campaigns stand out most for me.
“Going to Scunthorpe was also my best move because it was at a time when my career was going absolutely nowhere.
“I wasn’t playing at Grimsby and I needed to be getting out there on the pitch so joining Scunthorpe really helped me to kick on and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the club.”