Who Are These Jobbers?
Is there anything more quintessentially League One than Scunthorpe away in mid-January? The moment Burton Albion confirmed our relegation to this hellscape of a division, I always had visions of standing on a freezing stand at Glanford Park watching Sunderland slide to a miserable 3-0 defeat. And, so, it has come to pass.
There are so many layers to the history of our illustrious opponents. Scunthorpe provided the launching pad to the careers of Kevin Keegan and Ray Clemence and they even gave 11 games to England cricketer Ian Botham. The sale of Neil Cox to Aston Villa in 1991 famously paid for the installation of 2,000 new seats at Glanford Park and the current team have a player named after a toy in The Simpsons, Funso Ojo.
However, one incident stands above it all in the history of Scunthorpe United. Yes, of course, I am talking about the time manager Alan Knill was almost killed by a squirrel.
In dying embers of summer 2012, Knill’s side languished at the bottom of League One having lost all six of their opening matches. As the former Bury and Rotherham United manager cycled home contemplating how The Iron would vanquish Notts County in the upcoming fixture, he was attacked by a rogue beast emerging at the side of the road.
Before Knill could react he was sent sprawling over the handlebars of his bike, clattering into the unforgiving tarmac. The squirrel retreated into the wilderness with all the damage done. The now stricken Scunthorpe boss’ eyes jolted open and he feared he may be about to meet his maker.
Speaking to BBC Radio Humberside, Knill explained: “For a minute, I thought I might have been in trouble because I landed on my head. Then, all of a sudden, I thought: ‘I’m not, I’m alive!’”
The chastening experience left Knill with a newfound love of life and with only cuts and bruises to show for this traumatic episode he had just endured, he felt ready to embrace this beautiful world once again.
Scunthorpe lost 2-1 to Notts County and he was sacked within a month.
What’s The Ground Like?
When I’m in the cocktail bars of Leeds’ fashionable Victoria Quarter, I tend to be the toast of the establishment with my in-depth knowledge of the football stadia of this great land. I’ve lost count the amount of high-profile connections I’ve made with Yorkshire’s glitterati by dropping previously unknown facts such as Scunthorpe’s Glanford Park being the first new purpose-built football stadium to be constructed in England in 33 years in 1988.
I’ve had my bill paid by many of this country’s most prominent socialites as I lean on the bar sipping a glass of Château Lafite Rothschild and dropping truth bombs such as The Iron moving to Glanford Park after substantial improvements were required on the Old Showground in the wake of the Bradford City disaster. A decision which meant moving out of town to their current home.
If you too would like to be the king of high society then you can. Simply recite the fact that the Doncaster Road End or “Donny Road End” houses the most fervent Scunthorpe supporters while away fans are plonked in the AMS Stand and part of the Clugston Stand.
How Do I Get There?
The bonus of having a football stadium in a car park in the middle of nowhere is that sweet, sweet motorway access. Hit the A19 and then A1(M) before joining the M62 at junction 33 heading towards Hull. Take the exit for the M18 and then the M180 signposted for Scunthorpe. Leave junction 3 for the M181 and the ground is on your right.
There is a pretty big car park at the ground, which costs £3. If you don’t trust my instructions then plop DN15 8TD into your sat nav.
If you’re arriving by train, Scunthorpe railway station is a handy two miles away from the ground. You can either take the number 1 bus from Scunthorpe bus station, hop in a taxi or catch the shoelace express and walk.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
There is an almost a mythological aura around Scunthorpe. This little town in North Lincolnshire is said to be blessed with some of the best value hostelries in the country. Take a stroll from the railway station along Oswald Road and you’ll find The Blue Bell Inn, one of the country’s cheaper Wetherspoons establishments.
Also on Oswald Road is The Honest Lawyer, a quaint pub filled with hand-pulled ales, fancy European lagers and a food menu consisting of burgers all seemingly named after Motorhead. The Royal on Doncaster Road is a decent stopping point if you’re making the walk to the ground.
If your idea of a good time is hanging around a Hungry Horse establishment before the match then the Old Farmhouse is located directly outside Glanford Park. Pop into a Sam Smith’s hotel by enjoying a tipple in the Berkeley Hotel, a ten-minute walk from the ground.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
You saw a weekend in North Lincolnshire and though “boy howdy, I’m having a piece of that”. After all, there is so much to see in Scunthorpe like the North Lincolnshire Museum, a celebration of the area’s geology, natural history, archaeology and social history. It even features an exhibit dedicated to the life and times of Scunthorpe United.
Carry on this North Lincolnshire party by visiting Normanby Hall Country Park, a sprawling park which exemplifies the beauty of this region. Spend your Sunday afternoon frolicking with the Red and Fallow Deer and truly be at one with nature.