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Midland League Duties 1921-22: A happy Christmas

9 March 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: Herbert Lloyd, who scored the only goal at Lincoln, and a brief report. 

One hundred years ago, the Christmas period was in full swing, with kisses under the mistletoe, chestnuts roasting on the old polished range, a pleasant smell of Johnny Walker whiskey in the air, and games to be observed, as Scunthorpe and Lindsey United had a full programme of events to savour. Everyone with a claret and blue scarf was keen to wrap it round his or her neck, and wander up the Clayfield Road, ready for the Nuts to fire into action to light up the Christmas soccer programme.

At that stage, Scunthorpe and Lindsey United had suffered a debilitating run of form during the autumn, with five losses on the spin in the Midland League, and elimination from the Wharncliffe Cup and FA Cup. However, the advent of the winter season saw a change of fortune, and the addition of former Chelsea international Robert Whittingham. In complete contrast, three consecutive matches had yielded the maximum bonus of two points, the latest of which was the 4-1 demolition of Lincoln City Reserves on Boxing Day, at the Old Show Ground.

The next fixture on the Midland League card was on December 28th 1921. This time the Nuts had their gleaming charabanc chugging outside the garage, before loading up the players, and sending it in a Southerly direction along the A159, past the Northolme at Gainsborough, and finally rolling up outside Sincil Bank for the second instalment with the Lincoln City Reserves. Those brave enough would have cycled from Scunthorpe, whilst others with a silver coin in their pockets used motorised transport, or the train via Barnetby. United could always count on good support for this local derby.

Visitors who were in attendance anticipated little change in the Scunthorpe personnel, considering that two days prior the team had been so much in command of the game against the Junior Imps on home soil. Indeed, with all bruises counting for nothing, the same team was on duty. Thus the following was the Scunthorpe United line-up: Wogin, goalkeeper; Ackroyd and Smith, fullbacks; Lloyd, Duke, and Broadhead, halfbacks; Meredith, Whittingham, Whitham, Maycock and Chambers, forwards.

The game at Sincil Bank was to be a far tighter affair than a couple of days before. The Junior Imps were much happier with their home surroundings, and threatened the Scunthorpe goal on several occasions, but Johnny Wogin, wearing the green jersey in the visitor’s goal, was in excellent form, holding firmly a couple of well drilled shots at his target. In front of him, Duke and Smith cut out the City threat from the centre and the left. However, the star of the defence was Ackroyd, who was said to have had a storming game, tackling hard and heading clear with positive results. The interval arrived with no goals registered on the scoreboard.

In the second half both teams mustered a good pace, although the game continued goalless, in was not lacking in incidents or effort. While the clock ticked down, it was the Scunthorpe eleven that looked the more likely to score, as they forced the pace in the Junior Imps penalty area. Eventually the game needed the experience of an old head to break the deadlock, and in Captain Herbert Lloyd they had such a player.

There was just ten minutes left to play when the Nuts once more ventured into enemy territory. When an attack was fended off, the ball was released to Lloyd on the edge of the box, and he returned it smartly, past the keeper, and into the bulging net. The margin between the two teams was close, but that drilled shot meant that United had the double over the City Reserves, and another two points could be banked in the Midland League.

This second victory set the team up in good stead for the next game on the following Saturday, which was played on New Year’s Eve. Scunthorpe and Lindsey United were to be thrust in action at the Old Show Ground against Doncaster Rovers, and a good holiday period attendance was there to witness the progress of the Nuts, which included plenty of folks with the red and white favours of the railway town club.

In those days the Rovers were just like Scunthorpe, and were of Midland League stock, with ambitions of the Third Division North, which would not be realised for another two years. The 1921-22 season saw the visitors with a mid-table placing, mainly as a result of strength at home, but a withering of form on their travels. Scunthorpe took to the field from the dressing rooms on the Henderson Avenue side of the ground, full of confidence. Once again they were unchanged. Rovers came to the match having beaten the Junior Tigers of Hull City Reserves, on Boxing Day, on the Bennetthorpe Ground, used by Rovers from 1920 until 1922, before Belle Vue was opened, but having lost to them at Anlaby Road, at Hull.

There was plenty of blood and thunder in the clash in the first half of the game. Once again John Wogin proved his worth in keeping the goalkeeping gloves from Bates, and there was good work in the engine room, as Lloyd Duke and Broadhead stamped their authority in the middle of the park. Although the Nuts had the majority of the threatening play, neither Whittingham, Witham nor Maycock could convert a chance into a goal. At the same time, the Rovers attack did not find a torpedo to scupper the home side. At half-time the score stood at 0-0.

Into the second half it was then that the crowd was brought to its feet with excitement. Scunthorpe opened the scoring, when Lloyd won a corner, taken by Meredith took from the right side of the field. Although the shot that resulted from it was parried by the keeper, Maycock was on hand to scoop the ball into the empty net. At this time United kept up the pressure, and a good move was thwarted by an offside flag, when another goal was threatened. However, in one of the next attacks the crowd was in full applause as a well-directed shot by Whitham found the target, to put the Nuts 2-0 to the good.

The Rovers never gave up the fight, and late in the proceedings they were rewarded for their positive efforts by a superbly worked move was finished off by Smailes in the number eight shirt. Despite a frantic last few moments, when Rovers sought parity, United held firm, and could count themselves worthy of another fine 2-1 victory.

IT'S A SCUNTHORPE FACT: The first library was started at Scunthorpe in 1904, was payed for by public subscription, and a donation of £1,500 from Andrew Carnegie, and opened on Easter Monday 1906 on High Street East.

IT'S A SCUNTHORPE UNITED FACT: Paul Musselwhite was the first Scunthorpe United goalkeeper at Glanford Park when it opened in 1988. He left for a long career at Port Vale and Hull City, but returned to assist United to promotion in 2004-05, and later has served as the goalkeeper’s coach.


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