Today sees the start of a new feature here on footysphere where we invite football bloggers to give us five fun facts about their club. First up is Scunthorpe United fan Nicola Kilmore who gives us five fun facts, and little bit more, about her club, the Iron.
1. Our very name gets us into trouble.
I must support the only club that can’t be written about properly without swear filters the world wide web over having an absolute fit when I try to write my football club’s name. I usually end up saying I support S****horpe United, which to be honest looks dodgier with the asterisks than without! Even the Arsenal don’t have this problem, although obviously our ‘swear word’ is far worse.
Here’s a unfortunate tale when the delightful swear word in our name unintentionally became very prominent. Every year our club shop sells a calendar, normally it’s massively overpriced and quite cheap looking but for 2011 we went one better and produced a personalised calendar. For the princely sum of £12.99 you could have your name printed on the pages alongside your ‘heroes’. This seemed a great idea until the letter ‘S’ was left out of the club’s name. Oh dear. Naturally, this hilarious incident made the national papers. The most shocking thing about the whole debacle was the outlandish claim we had sold 2000 of the bloody things!
2. We are pioneering trend setters of the highest order.
You all thought we were so unfashionable as a club but in actual fact where we lead others follow. You may not realise but it was Scunthorpe United who started the trend for moving from old fashioned, dilapidated grounds into plush new all-seater stadiums! Unfortunately as we were so far ahead of the time back then, Glanford Park itself is now looking more than a tad shabby. It’s revolutionary 1988 features looking dated in comparison with the superbowls we have today; but it was groundbreaking at the time. Walsall were so impressed they built a near replica. So stadium development might have moved on just a little bit since then but remember it was the extraordinary vision of Team Scunthorpe that made it possible for you to build your own luxury grounds. Probably.
If stadium innovation isn’t an interesting enough fact for you, I bet you didn’t know Scunthorpe United were pioneering in other ways. Shirt sponsorship has been a lucrative little earner for clubs and businesses but did you know it was Scunthorpe United that were the first club to have their shorts sponsored? Admit it, you didn’t did you, your life is now enriched. Yes, Scunthorpe seized upon a new way to add yet more sponsorship when they had sponsors proudly adorning the back of their shorts. Jeep became the first ever football shorts sponsors for the 04/05 season and they were worn for the first time in a defeat against Chester City. Here is the lovely Matthew Sparrow doing his sexiest ‘bum pose’ to model the new shorts.
3. Why ask for big money for a player when you can get some seats chucked in?
Now I’m not absolutely sure if this is exclusive to us, but let’s be honest I can’t imagine many other clubs pushing for such an extra .. er .. sweetener in a football transfer deal as Scunthorpe United did when they sold Neil Cox to Aston Villa for club record fee in 1991. Glanford Park started off having two terraces, one for home and one for away, but the tragic events at Valley Parade and Hillsborough led to safety rulings that the away end must be seated. Faced with the need to seat the terrace Scunthorpe got down to some hard negotiating with Aston Villa, who coincidentally also play in claret and blue and just so happened to have a spare 1000 or so blue seats knocking about. Handy or what? After I’m sure what was some very tense negotiating Scunthorpe managed to trouser £400000 and 1600 blue seats to complete what was probably one of the most bizarre transfers ever. Not that visitors to Glanford Park appreciate our dealings, to a man/woman/child they usually stand the whole game. Tsk.
4. We’re so tight we took a gamble on our physio as manager .. and it worked!
Hailed as a ‘masterstroke’ by many. Chairman Wharton will maintain that replacing Brian Laws with the club physio Nigel Adkins when Scunthorpe United were sitting proudly atop League One was a decision ground in faith and reason. Most people think it was a penny pinching gamble that paid off big time. Even Wharton will not have envisaged his gamble paying off so handsomely with Adkins delivering a League title, two Wembley appearances, play off success and most treasured of all, survival at Championship level, before he left for pastures greener and brighter down south. Undoubtedly the biggest physio turned manager success story since Bob Paisley, the appointment gave Scunthorpe fans the chance to stake a claim for best chant of the 2006/07 season with the genius “Who Needs Mourinho We’ve Got Our Physio!” Now shamelessly stolen by Tranmere fans. Pioneering Scunthorpe again have inspired other teams to see if they can cut costs by appointing from within, with Tranmere’s Les Parry and Hereford’s Jamie Pitman dropping the magic sponges and picking up the managerial reins. Meanwhile, expect Scunthorpe to take ‘appointing from within’ to new depths with the promotion of the Scunny Bunny into the vacant manager’s position. Obviously I’m joking but with Scunthorpe you never quite know …
5. Everyone’s favourite pub trivia fact about Scunthorpe United.
Yes, you knew it was coming, I’m quite impressed with myself for getting this far without having to wheel it out but come on, there’s only so many vaguely interesting facts you can think of for a club like mine and to be honest it’s a pretty impressive fact. Can’t think of too many other small clubs who could lay hands to such a claim. **Drum roll**
Scunthorpe United can boast to having had three England captains play for them in their history. Liverpool and England legends Kevin Keegan and Ray Clemence, both of whom joined the Reds directly from the Iron and the less than illustrious footballer but pretty special cricketer Ian Botham. This fun fact has been a staple of pub quizzes and online trivia for years and is another bow to Scunthorpe’s fine history.