Home > Football > My time at Scunthorpe United…Part 1. It’s a long way to Torquay.

My time at Scunthorpe United…Part 1. It’s a long way to Torquay.

I left Grimsby on the deadline day of the 1997 season. The first day at any new club is always nerve wracking. You are going in amongst a new group of players who have their own banter and this really puts you out of your comfort zone. I have always been one of those people to keep your head down for a little while to settle in. Sometimes you might get lucky if you happen to know one or more of the players at your new club but in this instance I didn’t know anybody.

My first day at Scunthorpe was more unorthodox than most. Normally you turn up for a day’s training, meet the lads and there you go. Having just signed on deadline day, which traditionally is always on a Thursday, my debut was to be Torquay away. With such a long journey this made it an ‘over-nighter’ (leaving on a Friday for a Saturday match). The team coach left Glanford Park early on the Friday morning. Nothing new there, but I found myself the only player on there. At that time none of the squad lived in Scunthorpe so there was a pick up point en-route. I think it was the Woodhall service station on the M1 on this occasion. Pick-up points are an essential part of being a lower league player. In a lot of cases players don’t actually live in the town or city of the club they play for. The reasons for this are because wages and length of contracts are not big enough or long enough to sometimes uproot, especially if you have kids that are settled in school. Moving house can prove to be expensive (I had more than my fair share over the course of my career) and if your wife works and you have family who help with babysitting the financial calculations can be more attractive for the player to commute if it is within driving distance. So when you live elsewhere the last thing you want to be doing is driving all the way to the home stadium and then to the away match. Most managers are OK with this concept. It affects most managers too so it would be very hypocritical of them to do it but not allow your players to do it. Over the years though, if you are going through a sticky patch, I have heard loads of managers chuck it in that if results don’t improve then they will stop letting players have pick-up points. It’s as if they are doing you all sorts of favours by not bringing you to the ground to travel. Empty threats which never got carried through really.

So I am on the team coach going to Torquay. There is only myself, Nigel Adkins, physio at the time, and chairman Kieth Wagstaff. I was pretty nervous. We arrive at Woodall where the whole squad gets on, of whom I know nobody. Cheers !!. As they all got on I met them with a quiet ‘hello’ and then had to endure a full six hours with my head down. It’s not that I was shy. Far from it, but when you go to a new club you want to make a good impression from the off. I have been in dressing rooms in the past where a player  has come in and acted as though he had been there for years. It doesn’t look good and can  create a bad first impression. The first week or so is full of small talk. The normal conversations : ‘So were you not getting a game at Grimsby then?’ boring stuff like that. It can take up to a few weeks before you are joining in on their banter and battering their dress sense.

A debut goal at Plain Moor and a victory helped me settle in just that little bit quicker. There were about ten games to go of that season and I finished up with six goals. We finished that season outside the play-off zone.  Brian Laws had said that he wanted a promotion push for the next season and he said he wanted to do it by playing football rather than ‘hoofing’ his way out of the basement division.

Categories: Football
  1. October 10, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Really enjoying the bloggs, its interesting hearing from your side, used to live for a while in scunthorpe near glanford when i worked at the hospital, so finding it is bringing lots of memories back!

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