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My time as an Iron: George Kerr

1 May 2020

As featured in a past programme, we find out about George Kerr's career and his spell in Iron colours between 1968 and 1974.

I was playing for Oxford United when I became aware that Scunthorpe were interested in signing me. I’d fallen out with the manager down at Oxford and I’d wanted to get away for a couple of years and eventually me and David Sloan switched places and I moved back up north where I was much happier. David went on to experience promotion with Oxford so I presume he enjoyed his time down there but my wife’s family were living just an hour or so away in Barnsley and I went on to make some very good friends at Scunthorpe United so I definitely think that I made the right choice by joining the club.

It’s hard for me to remember exact details from that far back nowadays but I did settle in very well and I was made to feel welcome by everyone at the club straight away. It was a great club to play for because we were always very well looked after and I went on to enjoy quite a successful time in my career with Scunthorpe. There was a brilliant set of players at the club back then, none more so than Kevin Keegan who was about 16 at the time and just about to embark on what turned out to be a very good career. He forced his way into the team at such a young age which was remarkable but that’s testament to the type of guy that he was. But we also had other very good players such as Terry Heath, Geoff Barnard and Nigel Cassidy and Ron Ashman also brought in quite a few players from Norwich because of his connections with the club so we had a very talented squad at the time and I seemed to fit into that harmonious environment right from the off.

I played against Manchester United for Barnsley at Oakwell which was a fantastic experience because in those days the big teams came with a full strength side so we were able to pit our wits against some of the best players the game had to offer. I remember playing against the likes of Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, and then on the left was a young George Best who went on to become one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in my opinion. Today a team like Manchester United would rest eight or nine first team players but we were thrilled to have played against players of his ilk. The sides that some clubs put out in modern day cup competitions can devalue the FA Cup but surely come the end of the season every club would want to be playing in a domestic final at Wembley so it’s really not worth risking for the sake of a few league points. I was also part of the Scunthorpe team that beat Sheffield Wednesday in that remarkable FA Cup tie at Hillsborough and I remember seeing my next door neighbour, who had never been to a game in his life, out on the pitch celebrating after the match because he just got carried away with the excitement so the magic of the cup has always been there and it’s just unfortunate that some clubs and fans don’t seem to care about it as much these days.

Obviously Kevin Keegan has to be up there because he went on to become one of the game's finest. I actually saw the best of him when I was out for a year with a broken leg and I could just tell that he was going to make it to the top, which he eventually did. Kevin has always said that he did us a favour by leaving to go to Liverpool because Rod Fletcher came in and filled his position admirably and scored a lot of goals for us but it was always going to be tough to replicate the kind of quality that Kevin showed week in, week out. Even though he was very young during his time with the club, he’d be the one ordering us around if we weren’t doing things properly because he had very high standards and he’d let you know if you weren’t pulling your weight. He was very funny at times and I remember when I was out with my broken leg he had everyone else in stitches because I used to walk with a bit of a limp and he’d always walk behind me and imitate what I was doing which everybody used to find hilarious and it was great to play with somebody that was a great player first and foremost but a good guy all round too.

It has to be that cup game against Sheffield Wednesday because they were a first division side and for a club like Scunthorpe United to have beaten a club as big as they were was unreal. We went 1-0 down in the first few minutes of the game and most people would have probably thought that the writing was on the wall but John Barker scored a brilliant headed goal and we went on to win the game from there. John seriously injured his head in scoring that goal and he had to be rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment but he was back at training the following Tuesday which is stark contrast to the amount of recovery time that most players seem to need these days! I did experience promotion from the fourth division to the third division with the club which was also a great occasion to have been a part of but it’s that Sheffield Wednesday game that really sticks out in my mind.

I played in that promotion winning season, as mentioned, and then I played in one more season after that but the effort of staying fit following a bad injury had taken its toll. I wasn’t that old but the injury had taken everything out of my body and I was released by the club. Ron Ashman was a good friend of mine but I had no complaints with his decision to let me go because there was no knowing whether or not I’d ever be the same player again after my injuries. It was quite a difficult time at first because I had a mortgage to pay off and a family to provide for but Graham Taylor offered me the opportunity to join him at Lincoln as a player coach which was a good learning process for me because Graham was a staff coach for the FA at the time and he was very good at what he did as well as obviously being a close friend of mine.

I’ll always remember my time at the club and how well I was looked after because sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest effect. Charlie Strong was the club's physiotherapist during my time there and if it wasn’t for him after I broke my leg then I would never have played football again. He guided me through the rehabilitation process and worked tirelessly to get me back out on the pitch again and that’s something that I’ll always remember. Cyril Smith was a director at the club when I broke my leg and he and a friend of his were also local butchers so they provided me with meat for a full year to help me with my recovery. And then there was a guy called Trevor Wells who used to give me a big box of fruit every week as well and the philosophy of the club seemed to be that if you served the club well then they would look after you and the kindness of those four people in particularly sum up Scunthorpe United and I’ll always look back on my time at the club with great affection.


GK: Geoff Barnard (Scunthorpe) – Barnard signed for Scunthorpe from Norwich City in 1968 and enjoyed two separate spells with the Iron. He played almost 300 games for United before retiring in 1977.

RB: John Stone (Grimsby) – The defender started out at Middlesbrough and later experienced stints with York, Darlington and Grimsby. He amassed 312 games in total as a professional and retired in 1984.

CB: Clive Wiggington (Scunthorpe) - Centre back Wiggington was signed by Scunthorpe in 1975 and went on to score 7 goals in 88 appearances in claret and blue before joining Lincoln in 1977.

CB: Kevin Moore (Grimsby) – Moore made his debut for Grimsby as an 18-year-old and made 400 league appearances during 11 years with the Mariners. He later enjoyed a seven year spell with Southampton and also spent time with Oldham, Bristol Rovers and Fulham.

LB: Dean Crombie (Grimsby) – The versatile Lincoln born player spent just a season with the Imps before he signed for Grimsby Town in 1978. He left the club nine years later to join Bolton where he ended his career and currently works as an academy coach at the Lancashire club.

RM: Tony Ford (Grimsby) – Ford signed for Grimsby in 1975 and scored 55 times in 355 games for the club. He also enjoyed long spells at various other teams, including Scunthorpe, and played a total of 931 games as a professional. He was also selected for the England B side twice in 1989.

CM: Terry Heath (Scunthorpe) – The Leicester born midfielder began his career with his hometown club before joining Hull and then spending six years with the Iron. He scored 50 in 176 for United and retired in 1974 after a short spell with Lincoln.

CM: Bobby Cumming (Grimsby) – Scottish midfielder Cumming scored 58 times in 365 games for Grimsby midway through his career and later went onto represent a cluster of lower league clubs.

LM: David Smith (Lincoln) – Smith signed professionally for Middlesbrough in 1964 after a brief spell with Manchester United as a trainee. He then played almost 400 times for Lincoln between 1968 and 1978 and ended his career after a short spell with Rotherham in 1980.

ST: Mick Harford (Lincoln) – Harford played more than 100 games for Lincoln at the beginning of his career and went onto play for 10 other English league clubs including Newcastle and Chelsea. He represented England on two occasions in 1988 and currently works on the coaching staff at MK Dons.

ST: Glenn Cockerill (Lincoln) – Cockerill enjoyed two spells with Lincoln in the early part of his career before spending eight years with Southampton between 1985 and 1993. He retired in 1998 and has since managed non-league sides Woking and Winchester City.

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