Club historian John Staff turns the clock back a century to continue a new series reporting on the 1921-22 Midland League season.
CAPTION: Full-back Ackroyd, who converted a penalty goal, and a newspaper headline about us snatching a draw hosting Worksop.
One hundred years ago, the news from Scunthorpe and Lindsey United was the appointment of Herbert Lloyd, their popular captain, to the position of player-manager.
The news was announced at the board meeting on Thursday October 27th 1921, which took place immediately after the Midland League match with Mansfield Town. It was by unanimous agreement that Lloyd should take up the position as a liaison between the board and the players, and in his duties he would play a major part in team selection.
The elevation of Lloyd to his new post was not in conflict with the tasks of the Scunthorpe United secretary, Harry Allcock, a hard working individual, of whom the board of directors had the greatest respect. Allcock would continue with the day-to-day running of the office side of the business, as well as the communications, ticketing arrangements, finance, players registrations, and for the naughty boys, the Lincolnshire FA fines.
On the field of play, the FA Cup had seen the Nuts make progress to the Third Qualifying Round, the latest instalment being the beating of Brodsworth Colliery for the third consecutive season on the trot. There had been a special train of Brodsworth supporters to Scunthorpe and Frodingham Station, down the bottom of (nowadays) High Street East, and as many visitors were in attendance as those of the Nuts.
At the kick-off, Scunthorpe and Lindsey ran onto the Old Show Ground sporting smart new jerseys of claret and blue, but it was the Brodsworth team that shone in the first half. The Colliers were first to score and could have had more, but although fortunate to be level at the break, United dominated the remainder of the match, and were eventually value for a 4-1 victory.
Before the week was out, Scunthorpe United had time to beat Mansfield Town at the Old Show Ground by a 3-1 margin. Nothing has been logged in the newspaper reports of the day, but it must have been a moral boost to the players, going into the match at home to Worksop, on Saturday 29th October 1921. It came as no surprise that Herbert Lloyd was content to propose an unchanged team for the clash with the team from the Dukeries. Scunthorpe United line up as follows. Bates, goalkeeper, Ackroyd and Betts, fullbacks; Richards, Lloyd and Broadhead, halfbacks; Meredith, Gibson, Reed, Whitham and Maycock, forwards.
The match with Worksop was all about the gale of a wind blowing across the Old Show Ground pitch, which very much decided the direction of the result. The team with the wind in their favour managed much better than when heading into it. In the first three quarters of an hour, this was given to Worksop, and they took advantage to the tune of a 2-0 score. The Worksop second goal was a particularly spectacular effort, scored by Charlesworth, with a superb dribble and shot. Scunthorpe United were not dismayed by this apparent setback, believing that they could over- come after the break.
This was to prove to be the case, and when a foul was awarded in the penalty area, Ackroyd was true with his aim into the back of the net. The second period was just five minutes old, and the Nuts played in determined fashion for the equaliser, which eventually was served up by a tremendous drive by the effervescent Whitham, an inside forward the Nuts faithful thought of as a favourite. Finally the whistle was sounded loudly round the Old Show Ground, and both sides had to be content with a share of the spoils at 2-2.
Thoughts soon began to wander, at this time, to the importance of an FA Cup clash with arch rivals Gainsborough Trinity, a team on a crest of a wave, and already the victors in the Midland League over Nuts by a wide 3-0 margin. Home advantage staked the odds of a passage firmly in the court of the Blue Boy. Certainly the pairing of these two Lincolnshire teams in this prestigious competition had created plenty of interest, and it was announced that there was not a spare seat ticket left for the stand, and every inch of space was expected to be taken on the terraces. An estimated crowd in excess of six thousand, was the prediction for the Northolme, not bad attendance for a cup-tie between two Lincolnshire clubs of Midland League status.
At kick-off, the weather was set fine for the time of the year, and there were plenty of claret and blue favours in the assembly. When the teams emerged from the dressing rooms, each club showed just one change from the line ups of the previous Midland League game. For Trinity, Webster was a new face at full back, whilst for the Nuts, Reed, the lad from Epworth, was a capable deputy at centre forward.
The duel that was witnessed lived up to expectation, with a plentiful serving of cut and thrust football, no quarter asked and no quarter given. Both sides were at full strength and Scunthorpe showed a great deal of improvement from the display earlier in the season that saw them soundly beaten. The Nuts showed that they could match the Blue Boys stride for stride. However, Trinity were a team of class, and on this occasion had the rub of the green.
In the home goal, the experienced Scott had plenty of shots to sort out, and was a little fortunate to keep his goal intact. Then came an incident when the Nuts were awarded a penalty, which they failed to put away. Trinity made the visitors pay, and by contrast took their two golden opportunities with aplomb, through Talbot and Shearman. Scunthorpe and Lindsey may have been shown the exit door to the number one football competition in the world, but they could feel proud of the way the team had conducted itself.
At the end of the match, the dirty mud stain kit was put into the wicker basket, and every one of the visitors made their weary wayback along the winding A159 to Scunthorpe. It may had seemed to have been a longer journey on the return, but now it was time to see if the club could improve on matters in the Midland League. The next two matches would require even greater treks, as the club contemplated trips to play Rotherham Town and Denaby.
IT'S A SCUNTHORPE FACT: Rowland Road in Scunthorpe is named in honour of Rowland Winn, the First Baron St Oswald, who ‘rediscovered ironstone in the district of Scunthorpe, and was the precursor to establishing the iron and steel industry in the town.
IT'S A SCUNTHORPE UNITED FACT: One of the reasons the Old Show Ground was selected as the original home of Scunthorpe United was that it was far from the nearest public house, but then the Royal Hotel was built on its doorstep.