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Midland League Duties 1921-22: A happy new year

18 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: Johnny Wogin had a fine game at Doncaster in goal, with news of Grimsby defeated by Scunthorpe.

One hundred years ago the supporters of Scunthorpe and Lindsey United had seen their club’s Midland League season start in admirable fashion, then slide into mediocrity, before taking a turn for the better as Christmas approached. After losses at both Boston United and Hull City Reserves during the first week in December, it was as though Father Christmas had delivered the presents. A productive run of five consecutive matches had yielded maximum points, and the rocket transporting the Nuts suddenly changed direction, and was heading towards the top half of the competitive Midland League table.

During this mini-revival a double had been successfully accomplished over local rivals Lincoln City Reserves, who were a team at the wrong end of the Midland League. Also on the chopping block had been Doncaster Rovers, a club going through fundamental changes, before entering the Football League in 1923. On this occasion, the match at the Old Show Ground, played on New Year’s Eve, was won by Scunthorpe with a slender 2-1 margin.

Also on the positive side was an FA Cup run, which had taken the Nuts to the Third Qualifying Round. Usually, at this time in United’s history, the earlier rounds of the competition were against lesser opponents, but gradually the chances would be that a Midland League team from the County of Lincolnshire would appear on the horizon, because of the regionalising of the draw. Initially, for the 1921-22 season, Retford, Hull Holderness and Brodsworth Colliery had formed no barrier, particularly the struggling eleven men of Holderness, who crashed 10-0 at the Show Ground. However, the stumbling block proved to be the Blue Boy of Gainsborough Trinity, who used home advantage to engineer a 2-0 exit for Scunthorpe United.

Having examined the past, it is time to consider Scunthorpe United’s immediate future, and it was time for the Rovers return. Rovers found themselves unable to use the old Intake Ground, which during the First World War was commandeered by the Military. Belle View was still a development for 1923, and so the Scunthorpe team players lined up on a rented ground at Bennetthorpe on Saturday, January 7th 1922.

After beating Doncaster Rovers only seven days previously, and in view of no serious injuries, the directors unsurprisingly decided to select an unchanged team. Thus the Scunthorpe and Lindsey lined-up as follows: Wogin, goalkeeper; Ackroyd and Smith, full-backs; Lloyd, Duke and Broadhead, half-backs; Meredith, Whittingham, Witham, Maycock and Chambers, forwards. The Bennetthorpe Ground was not endowed with too many facilities to protect supporters from the elements, but at kick-off there was a fair sprinkling of Lincolnshire accents among the Yorkshire tones in a well populated crowd. Before the game kicked off, the referee was not happy with the jersey worn by Wogin, and he was ordered to change it for another colour.  

The match was in many respects a similarly close fought affair as a week ago in Scunthorpe, with little to choose between the teams. Scunthorpe could certainly thank their tough defence, who gave nothing away, and Wogin was afforded full protection. It is frequently said that many a victory is forged from a hard working engine room, and Lloyd, Duke and Broadhead certainly put in some fine performances. The key to the victory was a single goal, scored after only five minutes.

The incident which brought the victory came from a foul throw by a Rovers player, and from the proceeding throw, Chambers was given the ball over on the left flank. The nimble Nuts wing man tricked his way down the channel, and crossed into the middle to the burly Robert Whittingham, who swung his boot true, to hit a grounded shot beyond Henry, the home goalkeeper. The only other comments on the game suggest that Rovers were intent on using the offside rule to stop the visitors, and towards the end engaged in what was described as ‘rough play’.

The Nuts returned full of confidence, and on Saturday January 14th 1922 United faced their next fixture, at home to the Junior Mariners. On this occasion team changes were enforced. Duke could not continue at centre half, and Crookes made only his second appearance in the team. Whittingham was another absentee with flu, and Lloyd moved up into the forward line, while Richards came into his place in the number four shirt. 

The visit of the young Mariners proved to be something of a stroll, and all of the local supporters returned home with a smile on their faces. A fall of snow in the early hours put the game in doubt, but as no more followed, the referee was happy to continue, because the ground was not frozen. Thus the players were greeted by a white carpet, which soon turned to a skating rink of slush, making for some exciting tackles and slides.

Scunthorpe and Lindsey soon took command and by half-time were four goals to the good, and at the end of 90 minutes had added another two to secure a 6-0 victory. The headlines declared ‘Nuts prolific scoring’, and ‘Reserves debacle, defeated in the snow at Scunthorpe’. The best compliment afforded to the visitors was that the Town second eleven had been ‘off colour’. This was the worst defeat experienced by the black and white stripes all season, who were generally a formidable force. At the end of the campaign, the Junior Mariners became the Runners-Up in the Midland League division, but should they have reversed this result, they still would not have caught Mansfield Town, way ahead in the Champions position.

Just for the record, every Scunthorpe forward became a goal scorer, including Meredith, Chambers, Whitham, Lloyd, and Maycock, the latter securing a pair.

This business put the Nuts on a firm footing for the next fixture, on the following Saturday, in the Lincolnshire Cup, weather permitting. This was considered a very important match, in a tournament which usually drew crowds as big as those attracted by the bread and butter of the Midland League. On this occasion the Nuts and their loyal band of followers had a journey to the Northolme, to engage Gainsborough Trinity. On the cold January afternoon the men in claret and blue put up a tremendous struggle, but once again Trinity proved to be the nemesis of the Nuts. And a goal in each half saw them trudge out of the cup, as a result of the 0-2 reverse. At least they could concentrate on the Midland League after this set-back.

IT'S A SCUNTHORPE FACT: Quibell Park was named after Lord David Quibell, the Member of Parliament for Brigg, including Scunthorpe, from 1929 until 1931 and again 1935 until 1945.


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