Scunthorpe United F.C.

Scunthorpe United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England. The team compete in the National League North, the sixth level of the English football league system.

Scunthorpe United
Full nameScunthorpe United Football Club
Nickname(s)The Iron
Founded1899; 125 years ago (1899)
GroundGlanford Park
ChairmanMichelle Harness
ManagerJimmy Dean
LeagueNational League North
2022–23National League, 23rd of 24 (relegated)
WebsiteClub website
Current season

The club was formed in 1899 and turned professional after joining the Midland League in 1912. Crowned Midland League champions in the 1926–27 and 1938–39 campaigns, they were elected into the Football League in 1950. They went on to secure promotion as champions of the Third Division North in 1957–58 and spent six seasons in the Second Division, before they were relegated in 1964 and then down to the Fourth Division in 1968. United spent 34 of the next 37 seasons in the basement tier, punctuated by one-season stays in the third tier after they secured promotions in 1971–72, 1982–83 and 1998–99. Brian Laws saw the club promoted out of League Two at the end of the 2004–05 season and his successor, Nigel Adkins, led the club to the League One title in 2006–07. Scunthorpe spent just one season in the Championship, but victory in the 2009 League One play-off final saw the club promoted back into the Championship. They remained in the second tier until two relegations in as many years saw them back into the fourth tier by 2013. Scunthorpe were promoted to League One at the end of the 2013–14 campaign, before being relegated back to League Two in 2019. In 2022, the club was relegated to the National League, ending a 72-year spell in the Football League, and a year later were relegated again, to the National League North.

The team is nicknamed "The Iron", and has played in a home strip of claret and blue for most of the club's history. They play their home games at Glanford Park, having moved from their original stadium, the Old Show Ground, in 1988. They used to contest Humber derby games with local rivals Grimsby Town and Hull City, as well as Lincolnshire derby games with Boston United, Gainsborough Trinity and Lincoln City.

History edit

1899–1958: Early years edit

Chart of table positions of Scunthorpe in the Football League.

Scunthorpe United was formed in 1899.[1] In 1910 they merged with local rivals North Lindsey United to become Scunthorpe & Lindsey United and joined the Midland Football League in 1912.[1] After an unsuccessful application to join the Football League in 1921,[1] Scunthorpe & Lindsey won the Midland League in 1926–27 and in 1938–39.[2] When the 1939–40 season came to an abrupt end, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, Scunthorpe & Lindsey finished as runners-up in the second emergency competition, losing 3–2 to Peterborough United in an unofficial play-off game.[2]

After the end of the war, in 1945, Scunthorpe & Lindsey United would re-apply to join the Football League at every opportunity.[1] The club finished as runners-up in the Midland League in 1947–48,[2] and in 1950 was accepted into the Football League, ahead of Workington and Wigan Athletic when the league structure was expanded.[1] The club's first game in Third Division North was against fellow new entrants Shrewsbury Town.

After an unremarkable few years in the Football League, which included the club's first-ever third and fourth-round FA Cup ties (against Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth respectively), the "& Lindsey" was dropped from the club's name in 1958.[3]

1958–1964: The Second Division years edit

In 1958 Scunthorpe United won promotion to the Second Division as champions of the Third Division North under the guidance of manager Ron Suart. The Iron then began a steady rise through the Second Division over the next four years under a variety of managers, improving its league position each season until reaching fourth place at the close of the 1961–62 season, the club's highest league position to date. This was despite the sale of its leading marksman Barrie Thomas to Newcastle United for a reported £40,000.[4]

The year 1962 proved to be a turning point in the fortunes of the club, and in 1964 they finished bottom of the Second Division and were relegated to the now national Third Division. At the same time Scunthorpe United stalwart Jack Brownsword retired after 597 Football League appearances for the club, and Freddie Goodwin replaced Dick Duckworth as the club's manager.

1964–1987: Decline and stagnation edit

After relegation from Division Two, the Iron spent the next four years bouncing around in the Third Division. Freddie Goodwin left the club during the 1967–68 season, however his replacement Ron Ashman was unable to save the club from relegation to Division Four at the end of the season. A slight resurgence occurred in the very early 70s, with the Iron first defeating top-flight Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup during January 1970, and then gaining promotion back to the Third Division in 1972. It was during this short period that a young Kevin Keegan was discovered and developed by Ashman before being sold to Liverpool in 1971 for £35,000,[5] having racked up 124 appearances and 18 goals for Scunthorpe.

The Iron were unable to cement a place in the Third Division, and relegation back to the Fourth Division followed immediately in 1973. At the same time, Ron Ashman departed to manage local rivals Grimsby Town, only to return during 1976. The period between his two tenures saw several management changes and a disastrous league campaign which saw the Iron finish rock bottom of the Football League in 1975. In 1980, cricketer Ian Botham was signed as a player for Scunthorpe by Ron Ashman. Botham played for the club until 1984 making 14 appearances. He was also a regular in the Central League for Scunthorpe United Reserves, once scoring a hat-trick against Blackpool at the Old Show Ground. But the next five years saw United stagnate in the bottom half of Division Four, with the club finishing second-bottom at the end of the 1981–82 campaign. Promotion to Division Three was achieved under manager John Duncan in 1983, but immediate relegation was to follow under his successor Allan Clarke in 1984, with United then entering a further period of stagnation in the middle of the Fourth Division table.

1987–1997: New home, new horizons edit

Glanford Park as seen from the Britcon stand

In 1988 Scunthorpe United became the first English football club in the modern era to move to a new, purpose-built stadium, Glanford Park.[6] Whilst preparations for the new ground were underway, the club's final season at the Old Show Ground very nearly yielded success. Under the management of Mick Buxton, United qualified for the Division Four play-offs. Ultimately this was not to be, with the Iron losing 3–2 on aggregate to Torquay United in the semi-final. The second leg of this semi-final was to be the last game played at the Old Show Ground, with Steve Lister being the last player to score at the ground.[7]

The club's first season at Glanford Park ended in another play-off semi-final heartbreak, this time losing out 5–1 on aggregate to Wrexham. Further playoff failure occurred in 1991 as the Iron lost out to Blackpool 3–2 on aggregate in the semi-final under Buxton's replacement Bill Green. Finally, in 1992 the club made it to the Fourth Division play-off final at Wembley, losing out eventually on a penalty shootout to Blackpool by 4 goals to 3. This was the club's first-ever appearance at Wembley.

The following four seasons saw United sit consistently in the middle of the now Third Division table under a succession of managers, namely Richard Money and Dave Moore. Mick Buxton made a surprise return to the club as manager following Moore's sacking in 1996.

1997–2010: The Brian Laws and Nigel Adkins era edit

In February 1997, Brian Laws was appointed manager.[8] In 1997–98, his first full season in charge, the Iron finished one point outside the play-offs.[9] The following season, the club finished fourth in Division Three.[10] This ensured qualification for the play-offs, which they won after a 3–2 aggregate win in the semi-finals over Swansea City and a 1–0 win over Leyton Orient in the final at Wembley.[11][12] They were unable to maintain their Division Two status the following season, finishing in 23rd place.[13]

Laws guided the Iron to their second play-off position finish during the 2002–03 season, with the club finishing in 5th place.[14] However, Scunthorpe were ultimately denied by their county rivals Lincoln City, losing the semi-finals 6–3 on aggregate.[14] On 25 March 2004, Laws was sacked from his position as Scunthorpe United manager after a poor run of results saw the Iron sitting just 6 points above the Division Three relegation zone. However, only three weeks later, it was announced that Laws had been reinstated as the manager of the Iron after a boardroom shake-up.[15] Ultimately, the Iron finished four points ahead of the relegation zone, finishing 22nd.

Laws remained with the Iron for the following season, which Scunthorpe started in the newly rebranded Football League Two. The Iron gained promotion to Football League One as runners up. In the FA Cup, Scunthorpe visited Chelsea but lost 3–1 despite briefly going ahead in the match.[16] In the 2005–06 season, the club secured a mid-table League One finish. After a successful start to the 2006–07 season, Laws was offered the job of manager at Sheffield Wednesday, which he accepted, ending almost a decade in charge of the Iron.[8]

Following Laws' departure, physiotherapist Nigel Adkins was put in temporary charge. After obtaining good results, his role was made permanent.[17] Under Adkins, the club went on to win League One and promotion to the Championship that season, in the process setting a club record 16-match unbeaten run[1] and accumulating 91 points.[18][19] In the following league campaign, Scunthorpe were unable to cement their place in the second tier, and were relegated in 23rd place.[20]

The 2008–09 season saw Scunthorpe reach Wembley twice. The Iron qualified for the Football League Trophy final, but were beaten 3–2 after extra time by Luton Town.[21] The club then qualified for the League One play-offs before defeating MK Dons on penalties in the semi-finals,[22] before beating Millwall in the Wembley final 3–2 to achieve promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking.[23] In 2009–10, the Iron managed to retain their second-tier status, a feat no Scunthorpe side had achieved since 1963.[24] Seven games into the 2010–11 season, Nigel Adkins left Scunthorpe to become Southampton's manager.[25] After spells from Ian Baraclough and Alan Knill as manager, Scunthorpe were ultimately relegated in bottom position.[26][27]

2011–2022: The final Football League years edit

They finished the 2011–12 season in 18th place with 52 points.[14] With the Iron struggling in the following season, Brian Laws returned after a six-year absence,[28] but was unable to stop the club's slide back into League Two, with relegation confirmed on the last day of the next season.[29] At the end of the 2012–13 season, the then chairman Steve Wharton stepped down from his position with immediate effect. Businessman Peter Swann was appointed as his successor on 24 May 2013.[30]

Laws was sacked in November 2013 and was replaced by Russ Wilcox who oversaw a 28-game unbeaten run, which broke the all-time football league record.[31][32] The unbeaten run was ended with a defeat at Exeter City, on the same day Scunthorpe achieved instant promotion back to League One.[33] However, Wilcox could not sustain momentum into the following season and was sacked in October 2014.[34] The club eventually finished 16th.[14]

After narrowly missing out on the play-offs on goal difference in the previous 2015–16 campaign, the Iron finished in third, having never been outside the top six during the season.[35][14] In the play-off semi-final, Scunthorpe lost 3–2 to Millwall.[36][37] In the 2017–18 season, Scunthorpe finished in 5th place but lost 4–2 on aggregate against Rotherham United in the play-off semi-finals.[38]

Scunthorpe were relegated at the end of the 2018–19 season in 23rd position.[14] Due to the impact of COVID-19, the 2019–20 season was terminated early and decided on a points per game basis, placing Scunthorpe 20th.[39][14] In 2020–21, the majority of fixtures were played behind closed doors; Scunthorpe finished 22nd, after not winning any of their final ten fixtures, avoiding relegation by three points.[40][41]

On 31 March 2022, with the Iron bottom of League Two and 10 points from safety, chairman Peter Swann announced his resignation with immediate effect.[42] On 15 April 2022, Scunthorpe lost 3–0 at Leyton Orient and were relegated from League Two, ending a 72-year spell in the Football League.[43] The club's final league game was a 7–0 hammering away at Bristol Rovers, leaving the Iron bottom of the table with just 26 points.[44]

2022–present: non-League football edit

On 14 September 2022, the club was reported to be "in genuine danger of entering administration" after a proposed takeover deal collapsed.[45] In January 2023, with a takeover yet to be completed and the club at the bottom of the National League, the club were served with a winding-up petition over an unpaid tax bill.[46] On 25 January 2023, the club announced the immediate takeover of the club by former Ilkeston Town chairman David Hilton.[47]

Hilton settled the club's HMRC tax debt, spelling the end of a transfer embargo[48] but ownership of the ground continued to be disputed.[49] To cut costs, the club's academy was closed and some staff redundancies went ahead.[50] At the end of the 2022–23 season, the club suffered a second successive relegation to the National League North.[51]

In September 2023, Hilton put the club up for sale. On 28 September 2023, after disagreements between Hilton and various fans groups, and the emergence of details relating to previous criminal offences committed by Hilton,[52][53] he reportedly withdrew the club's funding. On 4 October 2023, the club was sold to local businesswoman Michelle Harness.[54]

Stadiums edit

The Old Show Ground edit

The Old Show Ground was club's original home from 1899 to 1988. The site, in the centre of Scunthorpe, hosted events including the annual Scunthorpe show as far back as 1867. The site was also initially known simply as 'the Showground', but it is unclear when the prefix 'Old' was added.

The Old Show Ground needed significant investment to maintain its fabric and ensure compliance with new regulations introduced in the wake of the Bradford City stadium fire. In 1987, with the club hampered by financial difficulties, it announced plans to relocate.[55] The ground was sold to the former supermarket chain Safeway (and later to Sainsbury's) and the search was started for a new location. In 1988 Scunthorpe United became the first English football club in the modern era to move to a new, purpose-built stadium, Glanford Park.

The site of the former ground is now home to a Sainsbury's store, at the junction of Doncaster Road and Henderson Avenue. When the store was opened a plaque (since removed) marked the location of the centre-spot, just in front of the delicatessen counter. A carved stone commemorating the site's previous use was incorporated into the exterior wall of a 2011 extension, beside the cashpoints.

Glanford Park edit

Land was secured at an out of town site in what was then the administrative area of Glanford meaning that the new ground was outside the boundaries of Scunthorpe (although this changed with the re-organisation of local government in 1996 as both Scunthorpe Borough Council and Glanford Borough Council merged to become North Lincolnshire Council).

At this time there were no grants available and the development had to be funded with the cash from the sale of the Old Show Ground, sponsorship, directors' loans and bank loans. This lack of outsider cash means that Glanford Park was built in a rather simplistic, box-like style, with a significantly smaller capacity than the Old Show Ground. The ground was so named because it was sponsored by the Glanford Borough Council. The capacity of Glanford Park is 9,088[56]

Glanford Park property dispute edit

In May 2021, the then Scunthorpe United owner, Peter Swann revealed to fans that he had transferred Glanford Park, the training ground, car park and surrounding land to his other business Coolsilk Property and Investment Ltd, in exchange for £11 million worth of loans.[57] At the same time, Swann told the fans they could expect stadium improvements and that the club would have a 99 year lease so they couldn't be evicted.[58] In January 2023, David Hilton had completed a takeover of Scunthorpe and announced the deal included the stadium and surrounding land.[59] The deal provided a four-month exclusivity period for Hilton to conclude a £3m agreement to buy the property.[49]

However, Hilton’s legal team raised concerns about the valuation, the stadium's status as a community asset and issues of planning permission and access.[49] Hilton did not buy the stadium within the agreed timeframe;[60] instead he found a loophole solution: a lease agreement that let the club stay at Glanford Park for 7p a week rent - something Swann considered to be trespass and squatting.[49] Hilton claimed that Swann was demanding an unreasonable £1.5 million upfront before starting legal paperwork for the sale.[61] Swann, through a fan message board, claimed Hilton was lying about the whole thing and didn't want to buy the stadium at all.[62] In late May 2023, the gates the Glanford Park were bolted shut and a sign explained the club were legally allowed to 'squat' at Glanford Park.[63][64][better source needed]

Swann began legal proceedings to sue both Hilton and the club, with an initial court hearing being adjourned until between January 2024 and March 2024.[65][66] However, in September 2023, the club said that fixtures after 7 October 2023 would be played at Gainsborough Trinity due to the dispute.[67] However, the club continued to play at Glanford Park in late October as negotiations over the ground's ownership continued.[68] On 16 November 2023, the club exchanged contracts with Swann to buy back Glanford Park.[69]

Club identity edit

The club's nickname, The Iron, marks the town's association with the iron and steel industry. The club's first choice playing colours are claret and blue.[70]

Period Kit Sponsor Shirt Sponsor
1975–76 Admiral No shirt sponsor
1976–79 Bukta
1979–82 Adidas
1982–83 Hobott
1983–85 Umbro Scunthorpe E.Z.
1985–87 Hobott No shirt sponsor
1987–89 Brikenden
1989–90 Scoreline
1990–92 Ribero
1992–94 Alan Ward Sports
1994–96 Pleasure Island
1996–98 Mizuno
1998–2000 Motek
2000–01 Super League
2001–04 TFG Sports HL Mercedes-Benz
2004–05 Carlotti
2005–07 Hatfields Jeep
2007–10 Rainham Steel
2010–15 Nike
2015–16 Avec Prostate Cancer UK
2016–17 Carbrini Sportswear British Steel
2017–18 FBT
2018–19 Rainham Steel
2019–20 Utilita
2020–21 Macron
2021–22 Cancer Research UK
2022–23 Marshall BMW
2023–24 Kelme HITEK

Mascots edit

Scunthorpe United's official team mascots are 'Scunny Bunny' who has the number 99 and 'Honey Bunny' who has the number 66. They both wear the same kit as the outfield players do.[71]

Rivalries edit

Club Last match Season
Barnsley L 0–2 2018–19
Boston United D 2–2 2023–24
Doncaster Rovers L 2–3 2018–19
Gainsborough Trinity L 0–1 1930–31
Grimsby Town W 3–0 2020–21
Hull City L 1–5 2010–11
Lincoln City D 1–1 2020–21
Sheffield United D 1–1 2016–17
Sheffield Wednesday L 1–3 2011–12
York City D 1–1 2022–23

Scunthorpe are considered to be a part of two main derbies: the Humber derby and the Lincolnshire derby. The Humber derby is a contested between Scunthorpe, Hull City and Grimsby Town. The three clubs are all situated on the banks of the River Humber, hence the name given to the derby. The Lincolnshire derby is contested between a number of clubs throughout the county of Lincolnshire, including Scunthorpe, Lincoln City, Boston United, Gainsborough Trinity and Grimsby. Scunthorpe have not played Gainsborough competitively since an FA Cup game in 1930, though the two often play pre-season friendlies.

Doncaster Rovers are also considered a rival, as they are the nearest club, geographically, to Glanford Park. Despite this, Grimsby are traditionally viewed as Scunthorpe's fiercest rivals. Fans also consider York City a rivalry, though the two teams rarely play each, only six times in the last 20 years. During Scunthorpe's rise to the second and third tiers of English football, rivalries with Barnsley, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday emerged, although none of these clubs saw Scunthorpe as a rival.

Players edit

As of 16 February 2024[72]

First-team squad edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   ENG Ross Fitzsimons
2 DF   AUS Reagan Ogle
3 DF   SCO Michael Kelly
4 DF   IRL Maxim Kouogun
5 DF   ENG Will Evans
6 DF   ENG Andrew Boyce
7 MF   ENG Michael Clunan
8 MF   ENG Alfie Beestin
9 FW   ENG Danny Elliott
10 MF   ENG Callum Roberts
11 FW   ENG Cameron Wilson
12 FW   IRL Liam McAlinden
No. Pos. Nation Player
13 GK   ENG Maison Campbell (on loan from York City)
15 MF   WAL Tom Pugh
19 MF   ENG Jacob Butterfield
20 MF   ENG Kian Scales
21 MF   SCO Flynn Clarke (on loan from Norwich City)
24 FW   ENG Dylan Youmbi (on loan from Bradford City)
26 MF   ENG Jason Law
27 FW   ENG Dion Sembie-Ferris
33 DF   ENG Tyler Denton
44 DF   ENG Ross Barrows
49 FW   ENG Danny Whitehall

Out on loan edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
14 FW   ENG Richie Bennett (at Southport until 31 May 2024)
17 FW   ENG Harrison Poulter (at Cleethorpes Town until 9 March 2024)
18 MF   ENG Josh Robertson (at Marske United until 30 June 2024)
No. Pos. Nation Player
22 MF   ENG Finley Shrimpton (on loan at Spennymoor Town until 15 March 2024)
FW   ENG Marcus Carver (at Southport until 31 May 2024)

Notable former players edit

Full international players while at Scunthorpe edit

Grant McCann played 12 matches for Northern Ireland during his time at Scunthorpe,[73] a club record. McCann scored three goals at international level[74] – a tally also reached by New Zealander David Mulligan.[75] George Thomas was the most recent Scunthorpe player to make a full international appearance, for Wales against Trinidad and Tobago on 20 March 2019, during a season-long loan spell from Leicester City.[76]

Player Country Caps Goals Year(s) of caps Notes
Grant McCann   Northern Ireland 12 3 2008–2010 [73]
David Mulligan   New Zealand 4 3 2007 [75]
Michael O'Connor   Northern Ireland 4 0 2009–2010 [77]
Clayton Lewis   New Zealand 4 0 2017–2018 [75]
Jason Batty   New Zealand 3 0 2001 [75]
Scott Wiseman   Gibraltar 3 0 2016 [78]
Lyle Taylor   Montserrat 2 1 2015 [75]a
Jonathan Forte   Barbados 2 0 2007 [75]
Martin Paterson   Northern Ireland 2 0 2007–2008 [79]
George Thomas   Wales 2 0 2018–2019 [76]a
Andrew Crofts   Wales 1 0 2017 [80]
Joe Murphy   Ireland 1 0 2010 [81]
Oliver Norwood   Northern Ireland 1 0 2011 [82]
Clint Marcelle   Trinidad & Tobago 1 0 1999 [75]a
Ramón Núñez   Honduras 1 0 2011 [75]a

a Capped while on loan to Scunthorpe United.

Other notable former players edit

Notable players with full international caps after or before their times at Scunthorpe include (in alphabetical order):

England cricket all-rounder Ian Botham played as a centre-half and made eleven appearances in the Football League for Scunthorpe.[83] Botham was also the president of Scunthorpe from 2017–2023.[84]

Team management edit

As of 14 March 2023[85]

Position Name
Manager:   Jimmy Dean
Assistant Manager:   Chris Plummer
First Team Coach:   Andy Butler
Goalkeeping Coach:   Paul Musselwhite
Strength and Conditioning Coach:   Antony Coombe
Lead Physiotherapist:   Rodger Wylde
Physiotherapist:   Dorian Mars
Head of Physical Performance:   Scott Johnson
Kit Manager:   Nathan Stanton
Head of Football Analysis:   Glenn Boden
Academy Manager:   Tony Daws
Professional Development Phase Coach:   Rob Watson

Records and statistics edit

Attendance records

Position records

Record results

Transfer records

Honours and achievements edit




  • Football League Trophy
  • Lincolnshire Senior Cup
    • Winners (21): 1938–39, 1939–40, 1951–52, 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1960–61, 1963–64, 1965–66, 1977–78, 1996–97, 1998–99, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2021–22

References edit

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