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Midland League Duties 1921-22: Worksop woes and Boston stumped

29 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.

CAPTION: Defeat at high-flying Worksop, while Whittingham was a Scunthorpe scorer against Boston.

One hundred years ago, Scunthorpe United were experiencing some excellent form, just as the first week in February had arrived, which had seen a remarkable run of nine consecutive Midland League results end in victory. This period was only slightly disrupted by a Lincolnshire Cup defeat, away to a remarkably solid Gainsborough Trinity team. Otherwise, it was a welcome lift to a cold and snowy winter, which in those times was not put off by an offending carpet of the white stuff from Mother Nature. Instead, the Nuts adapted to the harsh conditions, and snowballed their opponents into submission, banking the points into their Midland League total.

It was on December 17th that Scunthorpe and Lindsey started the ball rolling, after a disappointing run of five Midland League losses. Then, the Nuts turned the corner, and put pay to the threat of Sheffield Wednesday Reserves, with an encouraging 3-1 scoreline. In the unbeatable tour of duty were two doubles, one against the Junior Imps of Lincoln City Reserves, and another over the first team of near Yorkshire neighbours of Doncaster Rovers. In the New Year, both of the reserve teams of Nottingham County and Nottingham Forest were also succumbed.

However, the most encouraging result of this sensational achievement was at the Old Show Ground on January 14th 1921, when the young Mariners from Blundell Park Grimsby called in. The Mariners had flirted with the higher sections of the Midland League table, just behind Worksop Town. A tough match was anticipated, but the Nuts rose to the occasion, and completely dictated the game. At half-time the home supporters had cheered four goals, and were celebrating a 6-0 pummelling at the final whistle.

The next task in hand was a visit to Worksop Town, looking for a permanent place at the summit of the League table. It was not an easy game on paper, even with the type of form that Scunthorpe and Lindsey had enjoyed, but late in October the two clubs shared four goals in a highly competitive encounter. The handful of visiting supporters noted that Whittingham was back in the side, after a bout of flu, and the Scunthorpe line-up included the following players: Wogin, in goal; Ackroyd and Smith, fullbacks: Crookes, Duke and Broadhead, halfbacks; Meredith Lloyd, Whitham, Whittingham and Maycock.

On the afternoon of February 4th 1922, a keen and open game was a treat for all and sundry in attendance, and full of incidence. It was a match in which the defenders worked overtime, and the heroes could be found in the attacking elements of both teams. Straight from the kick-off it was apparent why Worksop were in the top place in the table. They won the toss, allowed Whitham to start the game and then forced the play into the Scunthorpe half. The game was less than five minutes old when a dash passed the Scunthorpe backs, allowed a ball to feet of Lawrie, who placed it beyond Wogin. On ten minutes Ackroyd fouled his opponent in the penalty area, and it was 2-0 from the spot, and remained so until the half-time break.

After the interval Scunthorpe went on the offensive and had two decent chances to reduce the lead, but it was Worksop who scored the third goal, to increase the deficit to 3-0. Scunthorpe began to rally and at last a drive from Whittingham reduced the arrears. Encouraged by this success, United pressed further, and another penalty was given for a trip on Whitham. Thankfully, this was despatched by Ackroyd, and a frantic final ten minutes followed. United had no choice but to attack, and from a breakaway Worksop restored the two goal advantage. Not content with this, the Nuts went forward one more time and, Maycock made the score 3-4, two minutes from the final whistle. It was an epic end to a super run.

The Scunthorpe men were not despondent after this set-back and seven days later looked forward to the visit of Lincolnshire rivals, Boston United, at the Old Show Ground, in the Midland League. Once again the match was to be a lively affair, and one in which the Nuts certainly had the Boston men well and truly stumped. The Scunthorpe team was unchanged, but there was a shuffling of the forward line artists. Meredith, said to be the best Scunthorpe forward of the day, opened the scoring on ten minutes for the home club, but a penalty goal from Boston, following handball by Ackroyd, levelled the scores.

From that moment Scunthorpe began to take control, but had to wait until ten minutes into the second period to reclaim the lead. First Whittingham made it 2-1 and then Whitham netted to put the game out of the Stumpies reach. To compound the plight of the South Lincolnshire visitors, one of their men wrenched his knee and had to retire. This only encouraged the Nuts to surge forward and seek greater advantages.

Before the conclusion of the game, the Scunthorpe eleven were awarded two late penalties, for fouls by the opposing defenders. These awards brought great cheering from the crowd, and the honours were entrusted to Ackroyd. On the first occasion, the popular fullback brought groans from the attendance, which could be heard at Keadby, when he placed the kick wide of the target, with the keeper rooted to the spot.

When the second penalty was given, there was a murmur round the ground as to whether Captain Lloyd might take the spot kick himself, or offer the chance to one of the other forwards. However, Lloyd had huge faith in the ability of Ackroyd. When Ackroyd took the ball, there was initial silence from the terraces, but he ran up the second time, and placed the ball beyond the keeper into the quivering net. A great roar of approval thundered round the Old Show Ground when the deed was done. The final score was 4-1 in favour of Scunthorpe United, and the team was back to winning ways. This would set the team up most favourably for a midweek game at Wakefield, on the following Thursday, when team selection ought not to be a problem for the Scunthorpe directors.

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