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I Have Seen Such Things....

Friday 2nd March 2012
May 2004 and my team, Scunthorpe United, had just ended the season in 90th place in the football league pyramid, saved from the drop in to the Conference only by the season long ineptitude of a Carlisle United side so dire even we couldn't find a way of finishing below them.

It was a horrible year but things were about to change. That summer, someone at the club (tea lady most likely) decided that we were about to leave rubbish football behind and become, for want of a better word, amazing.

Three players were brought in, all on free transfers, and the announcement of each was met with palpable indifference.

Then something strange happened. By Christmas we were top of the league. In January we went to Stamford Bridge in the cup to play a Chelsea team on their way to winning their first title since the stone age, led for 20 minutes, were praised to the very heavens by Mr Mourinho, went home and won promotion.

In 24 years of watching United I had seen two promotions each followed inevitably, by relegations.

This time we finished twelfth, our highest league finish for 40 years. Then something stranger than strange happened. The following year we scored a million goals before Brian Laws left for Sheffield Wednesday in order to baffle South Yorkshire folk with his frankly mental post match ramblings.

Naturally at this point, The Iron did the obvious thing and promoted the physio to manager, signed an unknown striker on loan from Leeds by the name of Jermaine Beckford, and won the league by five clear points.

Relegation followed the year after and that, you would think, was that. But no. Something then happened for which the word ‘strange' is wildly inadequate. Scunthorpe United went to Wembley twice in the space of six weeks or so and were promoted back to Championship.

Future England manager Nigel Adkins stood on the Wembley pitch and said simply “What an amazing bunch of people” and he was right. We were amazing and it felt good. And there was more of course, so very much more.

But if this season is to end, as seems increasingly likely, with a return to League 2, then I will always be able to close my eyes and be transported back to Wembley, or to The Valley, or to any number of magical, unlikely days, and I'll the feel sun on my back again and I'll smile.

Just a game they say? Well you don't get all that with tennis.
Paul Betts

Total articles: 4

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