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History

Midland League Duties 1921-22: A warm January

23 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: Some Nutty Bits a century ago, and Harry Maycock, who scored against the two Nottingham clubs.

One hundred years ago it was January 1922, and the thoughts of Father Christmas bringing his presents in a stocking with one toy and an orange were long gone. The Furness Arms and the Blue Bell had seen its customers bring in the New Year, and at Woolworths the January sales were in full swing, luring the Scunthorpe housewives to save one penny on items costing an old shilling. Outside, down Scunthorpe High Street, there was snow on the ground, and 1922 it was definitely cold this winter season, but Scunthorpe folks are a hardy lot.

Despite the inclement weather, Scunthorpe and Lindsey United had experienced no postponements, and their players were quick to shrug off the temperatures below zero, and continued as normal. At the same time, supporters of the Midland League club just put on an extra layer, and added another turn of the claret and blue scarf round their necks, and faced the elements with great resolve. In recent times they had every reason to cheer, because after a stuttering start to the campaign, the Nuts had started a run in the Midland League which had seen seven consecutive wins, and January would prove to be a warm month for those facing the Scunthorpe men.

This productive period in the season did not come to fruition until the third week in December. Then the lads in claret and blue shirts found their feet against Sheffield Wednesday Reserves at the Old Show Ground, followed by more success at Barnsley. During the Christmas festivities they snow-balled Lincoln City Reserves into submission, gaining a handsome double against the Junior Imps. Another double followed at New Year. This time it was Doncaster Rovers, whose first team was of Midland League calibre, who suffered at the hands of Scunthorpe and Lindsey United.

The picture of January 1922, to date, was the 6-0 thrashing of Grimsby Town Reserves, at the Old Show Ground, which was an embarrassment to the East coast club. Normally this local derby would be expected to be a close fought encounter, and the scale of the victory was reflected in the fact that the Grimsby Town second eleven finished the season as the Runners-Up to Mansfield Town when the season concluded.

The only part of the month to spoil the Scunthorpe party was on January 21st 1921, when the Nuts travelled to the Northolme to engage Gainsborough Trinity in a Lincolnshire Cup match, and slipped to a 2-0 defeat. Most annoyingly, this was the third occasion this term that the Blue Boy of Gainsborough had overcome the Nuts, the others being in the FA Cup and the Midland League. However, there was one more opportunity to get even with the Lincolnshire rivals, and for the immediate future, the focus was on the next two league fixtures.

The fixture card had lined Scunthorpe United with a pair of matches in conflict with the reserve sides of the two Nottingham teams, County and Forest. First on the agenda was the visit to Meadow Lane to take on the black and white stripes of Notts County Reserves. On this occasion the kick-off was an early afternoon Thursday date, played on January 26th 1922. Contemporary reports of the game are very thin, and give little more than the result.

However, extensive research suggest the Nuts lined-up with an almost full strength eleven, Whittingham at inside forward still not totally recovered for a severe bout of flu, which confined him to his bed. Thus, the Scunthorpe team which took to the field included: Wogin, goalkeeper; Ackroyd and Smith, fullbacks; Broadhead, Duke and Brooks, halfbacks; Chambers, Maycock, Witham, Lloyd and Meredith, forwards.

Notts County Reserves were very much of an average ability, and for much of the season occupied a mid-table position in the league. Scunthorpe had found some excellent form at this time in the year, and brushed aside the Magpie Reserves with a convincing 3-1 victory. Those responsible for making sure of the points included goal scorers Witham, Lloyd and Maycock.

It was understandable that the same eleven resumed duty on the following Saturday on January 28th 1922 for the visit to the Old Show Ground of the trees of the Forest Reserves. On paper it was suggested that the men in the red shirts might give the Nuts an even stronger challenged, but the Scunthorpe men were proving to be the tough nut of their nickname. Although the match was baron of goals in the first 25 minutes, in the next 20 or so, the guns never stopped firing.

Langton headed the first strike for the visitors, but ten minutes later an amazing dribble and shot by Lloyd brought the equaliser. Next Pancroft regained the lead for the visitors, but only three minutes had passed when Whitham drilled another levelling goal. Next it was the Nuts' opportunity to take the advantage, and Maycock came in from the right side of the park to score. The cheering had barely had time to subside, when on the stroke of half-time Lloyd was fouled inside the penalty box, and up stepped Ackroyd from right back to convert the penalty. Folks on the terraces had hardly time to get their breath back, but when they did, and eventful first period declared United leading by a 4-2 score line.

The thoroughly entertaining game continued at the same frantic pace, but with fewer goals to report upon. On the hour mark Thom scored a third goal for the Forest Reserves, with a strike from the left of the park. However, Whitham restored the two goal advantage for the Nuts, just ten minutes later. Much of the engineering of this point came from the artistry of Lloyd, whose dribble and accurate pass made it all possible. With this goal the scoring was wrapped up, and Scunthorpe and Lindsey United ran out 5-3 winners.

Scunthorpe United had certainly warmed up a cold and bleak winter Saturday with one of the best displays of the entire campaign. Although the whole of the team had played a part, the report of the time singled out Ackroyd from the defence, and all of the halfback lie, Broadhead, Duke and Brooks for special praise. However, the old stalwart, Herbert Lloyd deserved special praise from a terrific forward line. The victory set the team up for the challenges of February, starting next week at high flying Worksop.  

IT'S A SCUNTHORPE FACT: The Queen and Prince Phillip first visited Scunthorpe in 1954.

 


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