Club historian John Staff turns the clock back a century to continue a new series reporting on the 1921-22 Midland League season.
CAPTIONS: The new player manager, who scored against Brodsworth, and Harry Maycock (centre) scored to clinch victory over Mansfield.
One hundred years ago, the challenges facing Scunthorpe and Lindsey United were no different than in today’s game, except that the club then was of non-league status, but with ambitions of great conquests in future. Our grandfathers, who followed the progress of the then nick-named Nuts had seen the team experience some turbulent times, but also have some smiles along the way.
The early rounds of the FA Cup, as expected had proved to be no problem. A visit to Retford had brought a 2-1 victory in a demanding cup tie, which earned a visit from Hull Holderness. However, Holderness, the conquerors of Brigg Town offered no resistance and a 10-0 victory spoke volumes of an afternoon stroll for the Nuts. United’s centre forward helped himself to four goals, and there was a hat-trick for inside left Whitham.
The FA Cup brought the club another unexpected windfall, when United were due to play Rotherham County Reserves at Millmoor. The date of the match had to be changed at the last minute, because the Football Association commandeered the ground for a First Qualifying Round, Second Replay between Rossington and Birdwell. For their troubles United received £20 in compensation.
In the Midland League, the club had not performed quite so efficiently, and a series of four consecutive Midland League away matches had only yielded a solitary point from the drawn encounter at Wombwell. Perhaps in the next fortnight the Nuts might turn the situation around, starting with Brodsworth Colliery, on Saturday October 22nd 1921.
On this occasion, the FA Cup match in question was at the Second Qualifying stage with Brodsworth Colliery. Scunthorpe and Lindsey United were no strangers to the colliers. In the 1919-20 season these two clubs battled in the First Qualifying Round, and Scunthorpe triumphed 2-1 at the Old Show Ground. They met again in the Third Qualifying Round, last season, and it took a third match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, before United progressed, thanks to a 3-1 result, in which Alec Moore scored, a man later to be chairman of the club. When Brodsworth came to town for this latest set-to, these old foes were as familiar with each other as quarrelling relations.
On the appointed afternoon there was a good number of spectators in attendance, swelled by a group of enthusiastic miners, who had come by special train from Yorkshire, and they were vocal in their support of the visiting side. No doubt their tongues lubricated by some soothing Barnsley Bitter at the Britannia public house.
In the meantime, Scunthorpe decided, in the light of a mediocre performance at Mexborough, to make team changes. Lloyd was moved from left half to centre half, Brandon was relegated to the Reserves, while Broadhead took the vacant shirt. Calthorpe, similarly was made redundant, and replaced by Reed from the second team. Therefore the Nuts representation consisted of the following: Bates, in goal; Ackroyd and Betts, fullbacks; Richards, Lloyd and Broadhead, halfbacks; Meredith, Gibson, Reed, Whitham and Maycock, forwards.
When the match was set in motion by the first whistle from the referee on a slippery pitch, there were as many visitors as home supporters present. Brodsworth played in red and black striped shirts, whilst United paraded in their new claret and blue jerseys. Lloyd won the toss of the coin, and Scunthorpe decided to defend the gas works end, which stood on Doncaster Road, then the Clayfield Road end.
The story of the first half was of domination of the visiting team, much to the delight of their happy band of followers, and when Brodsworth scored the first goal they made their presence felt. On another occasion the visitors almost increased their advantage although Scunthorpe had played second fiddle, Whitham equalised with a smart shot, whistled into the back of the net, six minutes before the interval. At the break each band of followers agreed that it was a typical cup-tie, and the players were giving them full value for their hard earned money, either down the depths of the pit, or by the heat of a glowing furnace.
In the second half Scunthorpe turned their game round and completely bossed the rest of the match. Two minutes into the restart Whitham scored his second goal, dancing past two defenders, and neatly placing the ball far out of the despairing grasp of the Brodsworth custodian. It was a super strike which was heartily appreciated by the Scunthorpe section of the crowd, and put the home team 2-1 to the good.
Ten minutes, later Reed missed the opportunity to cover himself in glory when he put the ball wide, in front of an open goal. After the groans had died down, on the hour mark, he made amends by sending Meredith away to score United’s third goal, with a shot from the left of the target. The home team stamped complete control on the match with a fourth strike from a Lloyd header, striding up from deep in the field to meet a Meredith cross. The 4-1 result was heralded with the headlines ‘Nuts on song, Brodsworth well beaten’.
This was just the boost the team needed to resume Midland League duties in their next match, on Thursday October 27th 1921, when Mansfield Town were their next opponent, at the Old Show Ground. Unfortunately, the local newspaper went to press on the day immediately after the day of the game and gave little more than the bare facts that the same team was retained to entertain the Stags, and that United won the encounter by a 3-1 margin. The other outstanding details were the scorers, which included Gibson, Reed and Maycock. For centre forward Reed, it was his first strike in the senior team.
During the week the club made an important announcement. For some time it had been suggested that the club might benefit from a player-manager to oversee the players and assist the directors in team selection. The board of directors had put their heads together, and after much debate, United’s experienced captain, Herbert Lloyd was given the post. This appointment was directly concerned with first and second team matters, and would not torpedo the hard work, and much appreciated efforts of the Secretary, Mr. Harry Allcock. It appeared to be a popular choice with players, supporters and the management, and was the talk of the Nutty Bits section of the Saturday Telegraph football section of October 29th 1921, on which date the paper recorded event of the next Scunthorpe instalment against Worksop.
IT'S A SCUNTHORPE FACT: Station Road Scunthorpe of today was a winding track at the start of the nineteenth century, known as Water Lane.
IT'S A SCUNTHORPE UNITED FACT: Scunthorpe United did not play their first match in London until 1952, some 53 years after their formation in 1899, when they drew 0-0 in the Second Round of the F.A. Cup at Millwall. United won the replay 3-0.