Harry Golighty talks about Scunthorpe Utd – the fans, the management and the club's ambitions
Brian Laws has had his controversial moments. How is he regarded by Scunthorpe fans?
You would struggle to find anyone in the town who would question his passion and commitment. I think most people feel he’s doing a decent job. There is always the promise in the air of “something might happen” and that’s a feeling we’ve not had in many years. His reworking of the English language has become terrace legend – I once asked him in a fanzine interview about heavyweight striker John Gayle’s disciplinary record. Laws replied: “Defenders go down like he’s absolutely pummelised them.” I could say more but I’m saving them for the book.
How far do you think the club can realistically get?
The season in the Second Division was something of an anti-climax following our terrific promotion year, but I think the board will be better prepared next time, recognising that survival can’t be done on a shoestring. Laws himself offers a level of security – you know he will produce reasonable passing side. I don’t see us climbing much higher than mid-table in the Second, but with decent money behind him, you never know.
Which Third Division player would you like to buy?
There is only one player in the Third Division truly worth mortgaging your soul for, and we already have him – Peter Beagrie. His partner on the opposite flank, “Little” Lee Hodges, comes a close second, whatever Trevor Brooking reckons.
Who are you biggest rivals and has this changed?
It has been Grimsby, but Hull City are the current “most hated”. Unfortunately in recent games against both, Scunthorpe legs were broken – Peter Morrison, a promising young winger, in a reserve team game against Grimsby almost a year ago (he hasn’t recovered and doesn’t look likely to), and last December new signing Richard Kell against Hull.
Glanford Park was one of the first wave of new grounds. How do Scunthorpe fans see it?
It probably saved us financially. The Old Showground is still viewed with affection, but in reality it was a bit of a shithole. Glanford Park is hardly an inspiring example of modern architecture, but at least it’s reasonably neat and tidy. The pitch could do with being wider – it’s had quite a direct influence on our style of play over the years.
Milestones & millstones
1910 Two amateur sides amalgamate to form a professional club, Scunthorpe & Lindsey Utd.
1950 Elected into the Football League.
1953 Win the “treble”: Div 3 (North) Champions, Lincolnshire Cup and FA Cup Giantkillers Cup. East Stand burns down. Club builds the first cantilever stand in the world.
1962 United pushing for promotion to the First Division until Barry Thomas (31 goals in 24 games) is sold to Newcastle United. Finish fourth and crowds drop away in protest at alleged lack of ambition.
1968 Relegated to the Fourth where a certain Kevin Keegan makes his debut.
1988 The Old Showground is sold for £2.5 million, 67 years after buying the ground for £2,500. Move to purpose-built Glanford Park which resembles a biscuit tin.
1992 Lose play-off final on penalties to Blackpool. Seemingly terminal decline ensues until...
1997 Brian Laws takes over as manager, raising hopes of a few headline-worthy dressing room dust-ups.
1999 Laws guides us to promotion from the Third Division, via the play-offs. Ian Botham lies to the nation when telling the Sky TV reporter that he “played for the club on-and-off for nine years”. Kevin Keegan forgets the name of the club’s ground during the same programme.
2000 Relegation after one season in the Second Division.
2001 Paul Alcock sends off three opposing players and their manager at Glanford Park. The next time he referees in Scunthorpe he sends off two opposing players and their manager, thus becoming a legend in the town
Alex Calvo-Garcia ~ There are more heroes to choose from than you'd expect. For me it has to be Alex – truly loyal player, hard worker and scorer of the Wembley goal that secure our promotion. It would be a travaesty, and a sad end to the story, if he were to leave us for any other English club.
Steve Torpey ~ One of our current strikers and probably the least liked player we have, regardless of the manager spotting things he does “week in, week out that the fans don't see”. However, he has responded well when stung by criticism in the local press, so – Torpey, you're useless!
From WSC 181 March 2002. What was happening this month