Scunthorpe United F.C.

Scunthorpe United F.C.
Full name Scunthorpe United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Iron
Founded 1899 (1899)[1]
Ground Glanford Park
Ground Capacity 9,088
Chairman Peter Swann
Manager Graham Alexander
League League One
2015–16 League One, 7th
Website Club home page

Scunthorpe United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England. The team play in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

The team is nicknamed The Iron, and has played in a home strip of claret and blue for most of its history.[2] It plays its home games at Glanford Park, having moved from the Old Show Ground in 1988.[3] Grimsby Town, Hull City, Doncaster Rovers, Lincoln City and York City are its main rivals,[3] although none of these clubs currently play in Scunthorpe's division.

The club was formed in 1899, turned professional in 1912 and joined the Football League in 1950.[1] It achieved promotion to Division Two in 1958, where it stayed until 1964, but has spent most of its time as a Football League club in the basement tier.[4] The club has had more success recently, however: it was promoted from Football League Two in 2005, and then spent three out of four seasons from 2007 in the Football League Championship.[4] The Iron were relegated to Football League One in 2011, having finished bottom of the Championship.[5]

In recent years, the club has developed a reputation for developing promising young strikers,[6][7] having sold Billy Sharp, Martin Paterson and Gary Hooper on for seven-figure sums.[8] The club was also considered one of the most financially prudent in English football, being one of only three in the top four divisions to be debt-free. This status has recently changed after it was announced that a £2 million loan from the outgoing chairman Steve Wharton was on the accounts to help the club maintain some sense of financial stability.[9][10][11]


Early years

Chart of table positions of Scunthorpe in the Football League.

Scunthorpe United was formed in 1899.[1] In 1910 they merged with local rivals 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.[12] 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.[12]

After the end of the war, in 1945, Scunthorpe & Lindsey 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,[12] 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 Football League Division Three North was against fellow new entrants Shrewsbury Town.

Scunthorpe was the first club in England to build a cantilever stand, four years before Sheffield Wednesday's at Hillsborough.

A new home

In 1988 Scunthorpe United became the first English football club in the modern era to move to a new, purpose-built stadium, Glanford Park.

When it became apparent that the Old Showground needed significant investment to maintain its fabric and to make it comply with new regulations introduced in the wake of the Bradford City stadium fire (which the club was unable to make due to financial difficulties) the decision was made to relocate. The ground was sold to the former supermarket chain Safeway (now Sainsbury's) and the search was started for a new location.

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 1994 as both Scunthorpe Borough Council and Glanford Borough Council became North Lincolnshire Council).

At this time there were no grants available and the development had to 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 site of the former ground is now home to a Sainsbury's store and can be found at the junction of Doncaster Road and Henderson Avenue. When the store was opened a plaque was laid where the centre-spot was, just in front of the delicatessen counter; the plaque has since been removed.

In 1992, the club made the third division play-off final, at Wembley, losing out eventually on a penalty shootout to Blackpool (see here).

The Brian Laws era: 1997–2006

In February 1997, following the end of Mick Buxton's second spell in charge of Scunthorpe United, Brian Laws, one of Buxton's signings to the club as a player, was appointed manager, with Mark Lillis (another Buxton signing) as his assistant.[13] In 1997–98, his first full season in charge, the Iron finished one point outside the play-offs.[14] The following season, the club finished fourth in Division Three.[15] This ensured qualification to the play-offs, which they won after a 3–2 aggregate win in the semi-finals over Swansea City[16] and a 1–0 win over Leyton Orient in the final at Wembley with an early goal from Alex Calvo-Garcia.[17] They were unable to maintain their Division Two status the following season, however, and were relegated after finishing in 23rd place.[18]

Scunthorpe started the 2004–05 season in Football League Two, but gained promotion to Football League One. The club was nearly relegated to the Conference National the season before. In the 2004–05 season they led Chelsea, the Premiership champions, 1–0, in the FA Cup 3rd round, but were denied eventually going down 3–1.

In the 2005–06 season, the club secured a mid-table League One finish. Young strikers Billy Sharp and Andy Keogh established themselves as the first-choice strike partnership, and scored 38 goals between them.[19] Again the club led away in the FA Cup third round at a Premier League club – this time, Manchester City – before eventually losing 3–1.[20]

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.[13]

Recent years: League One and beyond

Following Laws' departure, Physiotherapist Nigel Adkins was put in temporary charge; after obtaining good results his role was made permanent.[21] Fans responded with the chant "who needs Mourinho, we've got our physio".[22] Despite selling Andy Keogh to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the January transfer window, the club went on to win League One and with it promotion to the Championship that season,[23] in the process setting a club record 16-match unbeaten run[1] and accumulating 91 points.[24] Billy Sharp was the leading goalscorer in the top four divisions, netting 30.[25]

Billy Sharp was sold to Sheffield United before the start of the following season for a then-club record £2,000,000. Despite his ostensible replacement, Martin Paterson,[26] scoring 13 league goals,[27] Scunthorpe were unable to cement their place in the second tier of English football, and were relegated in 23rd place.[28] Paterson was sold to Burnley at the end of the season for a £1,600,000.[8]

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.[29] The club then qualified for the League One play-offs through an 88th-minute equaliser by club captain Cliff Byrne against promotion rivals Tranmere Rovers on the last day of the regular season.[30] Scunthorpe beat MK Dons on penalties after a 1–1 aggregate draw in the semi-finals,[31] before beating Millwall in the Wembley final 3–2, with two goals from Matthew Sparrow and one from Martyn Woolford, to achieve promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking.[32]

In 2009–10, the Iron managed to retain their second-tier status, a feat no Scunthorpe side had achieved since 1963.[33] The campaign included a 2–1 home win over eventual champions, Newcastle United,[34] Scunthorpe's first appearance on UK terrestrial television in the FA Cup third-round 4–2 home defeat to Manchester City,[35][36] and Gary Hooper as the club's top scorer (and the Championship's third-highest) with 19 goals;[37] he was sold to Scottish club Celtic at the end of the season for £2,400,000.[38]

Seven games into the 2010–11 season, Nigel Adkins left his post as Scunthorpe manager to take over at Southampton.[39] Coach and former player Ian Baraclough was appointed as his replacement, but he was sacked half a year later after a slide into the relegation zone.[40] Former Scunthorpe defender Alan Knill was appointed from Bury with eight games of the season remaining,[41] but was unable to prevent the Iron from finishing bottom and returning to League One.[42]

Although Scunthorpe had been hopeful of immediate promotion back to the Championship, the club endured a difficult first half of the 2011–12 season, finding themselves just above the relegation zone at New Year[43] and knocked out in the first round of the FA Cup by League Two's A.F.C. Wimbledon[44] (although they did take Premiership Newcastle United to extra time in the League Cup[45]). They fared somewhat better in the second half of the season, embarking on a 10-match unbeaten run and in mid-table with four games to go.[46] They finished the 2011–12 season in 18th place with a total of 52 points.

The 2012–13 season started poorly for Scunthorpe, however a pleasing start in the first round of the League Cup saw the game finish, Derby 5–5 Scunthorpe, with Scunthorpe winning 7–6 on penalties. But as of 27 October they had only seen two league wins, one away, Shrewsbury 0–1 Scunthorpe, and one at home, Scunthorpe 1–0 Colchester. On 29 October 2012 Alan Knill was sacked as Scunthorpe United manager, after a 3–0 defeat to MK Dons. On the same day it was confirmed that ex-united boss Brian Laws would return after a 6-year absence from the club, along with former assistant manager Russ Wilcox.[47] Laws' first game in charge was a 4–0 defeat to Gillingham in the FA Cup, but this was followed by consecutive away wins against Walsall and Coventry in the league.

The start of the 2013–14 season saw Scunthorpe return to the Football League 2 after being relegated from League 1 in 2012–13. On 20 November 2013, following a 2–1 home defeat to local rivals Grimsby Town in the FA Cup, Brian Laws was sacked after a run of 5 games without a win.[48]

Russ Wilcox took over as manager around halfway through the season, and after a 28-game unbeaten run, ending in a 2–0 defeat to Exeter City, which broke the all-time football league record, Scunthorpe achieved instant promotion back to League One. Russ Wilcox was presented with the LMA League Two Manager of the Season whilst Sam Winnall picked up the Golden Boot with an impressive 23 goals. Wilcox also picked up a special merit award from Sir Alex Ferguson for his unbeaten start as manager.

Despite these accolades, Wilcox could not sustain momentum into the following season and was sacked in early October, with the club 23rd in League One, to be replaced by Mark Robins. The change proved successful with the club finishing 16th, 6 points clear of relegation.

Divisional movements

Second Tier: 1958–1964, 2007–2008, 2009–2011

Third Tier: 1950–1958, 1964–1968, 1972–1973, 1983–1984, 1999–2000, 2005–2007, 2008–2009, 2011–2013, 2014–present

Fourth Tier: 1968–1972, 1973–1983, 1984–1999, 2000–2005, 2013–2014


Notable former players

Players whose careers progressed in the professional game, or gained international honours have included:

Occasional celebrity player: Ian Botham (cricketer)

A number of former United players have become managers including:

More recently successful players include:


Current squad

As of 17 November 2016

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

No. Position Player
1 England GK Luke Daniels
2 Gibraltar DF Scott Wiseman
5 Scotland DF Murray Wallace
6 England DF David Mirfin
7 England FW Luke Williams
8 Republic of Ireland MF Stephen Dawson (captain)
9 Republic of Ireland FW Paddy Madden
10 Netherlands FW Kevin van Veen
11 England MF Josh Morris
12 England MF Neal Bishop
13 England GK Joe Anyon
14 England FW Tom Hopper
15 England DF Harry Toffolo (on loan from Norwich City)
No. Position Player
16 England MF Hakeeb Adelakun
17 England MF Sam Mantom
18 England MF Richard Smallwood (on loan from Rotherham United)
19 United States MF Duane Holmes
20 England DF Charlie Goode
21 England FW Jonny Margetts
22 England DF Conor Townsend
26 Scotland MF Jamie Ness
29 England FW Kyle Wootton
31 England MF Levi Sutton
32 England DF Jack Dyche
33 England DF Jordan Clarke

Out on loan

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

No. Position Player
3 Scotland DF Scott Laird (at Walsall until 3 January 2017)
4 England MF Jack King (at Stevenage until 3 January 2017)
England MF Dominic Vose (at Grimsby Town until 30 June 2017)
27 England FW Noel Burdett (at Gainsborough Trinity until 29 April 2017)


Position Name Nationality
Manager: Graham AlexanderScotland Scottish
Assistant Manager: Nick DawsEngland English
Coach: Andy DawsonEngland English
Goalkeeping Coach: Paul MusselwhiteEngland English
Head of Medical and Sports Science: Chris BurtonEngland English
Physiotherapist: Joe SharpeEngland English
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Adam HearnEngland English

Local rivals

Main articles: Humber derby and Lincolnshire derby

Scunthorpe's geographical region pits them against several professional clubs. Grimsby Town have traditionally been viewed as Scunthorpe's main rivals, however due to a contrast in fortunes the two clubs haven't met in the league since 2005. Though Grimsby have been the more successful of the two clubs Scunthorpe have had the better of the last 8 years. Another rival club from North of the Humber Estuary are Hull City. Games involving all three clubs are known as the Humber derby, where games with Grimsby are also counted as Lincolnshire derbies. Doncaster Rovers and York City are also viewed as rival clubs.

Another rival from the traditional county of Lincolnshire is Lincoln City. Also with Scunthorpe's slight rise to the second tier of English football rivalries with such clubs as Barnsley, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday emerged, although none of these clubs see Scunthorpe as a local rival. Other clubs in Lincolnshire such as Boston United and Gainsborough Trinity are in the club's region but haven't played in the same league as Scunthorpe for years. As well as this there is a group of smaller non-league clubs in the Scunthorpe area such as Brigg Town, Bottesford Town, Appleby Frodingham and Winterton Rangers; games with these clubs however are normally contested in pre-season and aren't viewed as local derbies.



Record attendance (Old Showground)

Record attendance (Glanford Park)

The highest position: 4th in Second Division (1961–62)[51]

The lowest position: 24th in Fourth Division (1974–75)


Record victory

Record defeat


Highest fees paid

  1. Rob Jones – Undisclosed from Hibernian[53]
  2. Martin Paterson – £335,000 from Stoke City[53]
  3. Paddy Madden – £300,000 from Yeovil Town[53]
  4. Kevan Hurst – £200,000 from Sheffield United[53]
  5. Jonathan Forte – £200,000 from Sheffield United[53]
  6. David Mirfin – £150,000 from Huddersfield Town[53]

Highest fees received

  1. Billy Sharp – £2 million to Sheffield United[53]
  2. Gary Hooper – Undisclosed to Celtic[53]
  3. Martin Paterson – £1.6 million to Burnley[53]
  4. Andy Keogh – £750,000 to Wolverhampton Wanderers[53]

Kit history

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 No shirt sponsor
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– Carbrini Sportswear British Steel

Women's football

The women's football club, Scunthorpe United L.F.C., who play in the Northern Combination Women's Football League, is affiliated with Scunthorpe United F.C.


Scunthorpe United's official team mascots are the Scunny Bunny and the Scunny Hunny Bunny,[54][55] who wear the same claret and blue kit as the team's players do.


In 2006, the club's fans began a new football chant "Who needs Mourinho, we've got our physio" after Nigel Adkins, the club's former physio replaced Brian Laws as manager, eventually to lead United to promotion.[56]


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External links

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