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Midland League Duties 1921-22: Still in the doldrums

18 February 2022

Club historian John Staff turns the clock back a century to continue a new series reporting on the 1921-22 Midland League season.

CAPTIONS: Hero of the Great War, John Wogin, replaced Bates in goal. Herbert Lloyd, who scored in consecutive matches.

The autumn months had brought Scunthorpe and Lindsey nothing but strife, and after a promising start to the season they seemed to have gone an eternity without winning a single game. Fortunately, in this depressing spell the Nuts had played far better than their results had suggested, but the frustration was there for all to see. Thankfully, there was the resolve to put matters right, and between player-manager Herbert Lloyd and the board of directors the corner to turn was almost in sight.

Problems with results had started for the club, when they were knocked out of the FA Cup by arch rivals Gainsborough Trinity in a close epic of a battle. There was an exit from another cup competition, with a defeat in the Wharncliff Cup at Bramall Lane, against Sheffield United Reserves. However, in the Midland League it had been since October for the last victory, when Mansfield Town lost to the Nuts, 3-1.

From that time only a drawn game at home to Worksop had yielded a single Midland League point to add to that all important table. The string of losses had included those on the road at Rotherham Town, Denaby and Boston, and at the Old Show Ground in contention with Notts County Reserves. Quite often the problem in these tight games was not taking chances, but injuries and team changes had also been a factor.

On Saturday December 10th 1921, just as children were thinking about writing a letter to Father Christmas, Scunthorpe United made their way to Anlaby Road to play the Junior Tigers of Hull City Reserves. The journey, before the advent of the Humber Bridge, entailed either the long way round via Goole, or more likely the shorter version, to New Holland and over by the old paddle steamers to the North bank.

The team to meet the Tiger Reserves included a number of changes, one significant one being the reintroduction of John Wogin in the green goalkeeper jersey, to replace Bates. The young Reserve player Smith was asked to play at full-back, so that Ackroyd could play experimentally at centre forward. There were also recalls from injury of Lloyd and Maycock, and a debut in midfield for Crookes from the second eleven. Thus the formation which entered the park included the following men: Wogin, goalkeeper: Smith and Betts, fullbacks; Crookes, Dukes and Broadhead, halfbacks; Meredith, Whitham, Ackroyd, Lloyd and Chambers.

In the past, games against the Junior Tigers had been most fruitful for the Nuts, and a 3-1 victory was to be savored. On this occasion, the change in personnel caused much uncertainty in the Scunthorpe play, and they quickly found that they were overran in the defensive quarters, with Ackroyd not in his familiar position. The City Reserves thrilled their own supporters with a heartening display, and the visitors found themselves 3-1 at the conclusion, with no grumbles at the score. Those who did brave the cold journey across the River Humber did have the consolation of a worthy strike by Herbert Lloyd, who did his best to lead his men.

On Saturday December 17th 1921, eight sleeps before the great man drove his magical sleigh, United were back in harness, as the young Owls of Sheffield Wednesday flew into the Old Show Ground. In the cold winter conditions there was still a moderate crowd there to clap as the gladiators emerged to do battle. Ackroyd returned to his more familiar full back position, and Richards was fit for purpose at right half. There was another boost to the team, when Maycock was able to resume. This gave the team the balance appearance that had been lacking in recent weeks.

The latest lineup had the desired effect, and this eleven played with far more grit in all departments. Wogin was strong in goal. Ackroyd, Betts and Duke were strong in concentration and cover, and there was fluency from the midfield from Richards and Broadhead. In attack the whole forward line looked menacing. Throughout both halves the Owls had little say in the dictation of the direction of the match.

Most of the meaningful action took place in the second half, and Meredith set the Nuts on the way to a long awaited victory with a splendid strike, which gave the visiting keeper no chance, as he came in from the left to drill the ball firmly home. Later, the same player missed an even easier chance, which normally the betting man would be paid a dividend. Nevertheless, Maycock scored a second Nuts goal, but much of the spade work must be credited to Lloyd, who engineered the chance on a plate.

Although Wednesday Reserves pulled a goal back, they never looked likely to threaten the direction of the two Midland League points, and Wogin was always a safe pair of hands. The two goal margin was restored late in the day after to concerted Scunthorpe pressure, in front of the visiting goal. A huge cheer went up when the victory was guaranteed, just as Whitham stole clear for a shot at goal, and past the helpless keeper. The first win since October 27th had been a long time in coming, but a relief was felt now it had been achieved. Perhaps with this hoodoo out of the way the Natty Nuts could go on to better results.

The Christmas period was almost in touching distance, and Scunthorpe and Lindsey United had three of four remaining games left in the old year at home. Barnsley Reserves were scheduled on Christmas Eve, which was a Saturday. Therefore there would not be a game on Christmas Day, because it fell on a Sunday. However, the next two days would yield home and away fixtures with the young Imps of Lincoln City Reserves, and on the following Saturday, the visit of Doncaster Rovers Reserves. No doubt the team would be able to push on up the Midland League table.

IT'S A SCUNTHORPE FACT: Daren Johnson is the actor behind the hilarious Annie Fannie, who has thrilled Scunthorpe pantomime audiences over the past years, at the Plowright and Baths Theatres.   

IT'S A SCUNTHORPE UNITED FACT: Joe Murphy, United’s Championship winning goalkeeper of 2006-07 season, previously played in goal for Tranmere Rovers in the League Cup Final in 2000.


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