Scunthorpe - Glanford Park

Yours truly with Honey Bunny!

25/9/10 Scunthorpe United vs Ipswich Town 1-1   Attendance:5,931

My job took me to Boston and Gainsborough on the Friday, so it made sense to fit in the Championship match at Glanford Park on the Saturday. It was against second place Ipswich Town; just three days after Scunthorpe had entertained Man U, breaking the attendance record at the Championship's smallest ground. It was also the first match for caretaker Scunthorpe manager, Ian Baraclough, to be permanently in charge,
I was hoping to make a return visit to Grimsby Town's Blundell Park on the Friday after my work had finished in Gainsborough, but due to the slowness of the roads in this part of Eastern England, especially around Boston, this was put back until the Saturday morning.
On the Saturday I left my hotel at 8.30am and drove to Grimsby. Straight away it brought back memories of the mad taxi-ride back in 2005 when the Southend coach broke down on the way to Grimsby. I stopped off at a Morrison's on the outskirts of Grimsby for breakfast, before going onto to Blundell Park to take some photos. You can't really see much of the inside of the ground from outside, so I had to make do with photos just form the outside.
I then drove over to Doncaster and the Keepmoat stadium to do the same. Talk about chalk and cheese! Not much to say about the Keepmoat apart from the fact that it's all neat and oval and grey looking form the outside. Another thirty minutes in the car gets me to Barnsley's Oakwell ground. Now that still retains much of its character, especially on one side where the original walls and turnstiles are still standing.
Then it's back across South Yorkshire and into Lincolnshire to Scunthorpe.
I come off the M181 motorway and get stuck in a traffic jam - yes they even have traffic jams in Scunthorpe! It's because where Glanford Park is situated, is right by an out of town shopping centre and 2 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon is perfect for traffic jams. I move into the lane that's moving and find that it leads straight into a Tescos. I'm tempted to park here, but think better of it and go inside to use their toilet and buy some flowers which will be put to good use later on.
By the time I leave Tescos, the queue has gone down and I easily make my way out of the shopping complex and across the roundabout and into Glanford Park. You go under a large archway over the roadway and join a queue for the car park. I pay my £3 and drive to where the stewards direct me. Being an awkward customer I turn my car round so it's facing outwards, ready for a quick getaway after the match, only to be "ordered" by the steward to turn it round again! Suitably chastened I do as I am told and make my way round the ground, taking a few photos as I go back out under the triumphal arch and into the Old Farmer pub.
Although it has a couple of bouncers on the door, there's both Scunthorpe and Ipswich fans drinking happily together. The only problem is there's no real ale, so I have a cider instead. I get talking to a couple of Ipswich fans, a pleasant husband and wife team, who are making a weekend of it. They're from a village near Manningtree, which is on the main London to Norwich line. Although it's only about forty miles from where I live, I find it had at times to understand his "Tractor Boy" accent. We talk about what Roy Keane has done for Ipswich and about Jimmy's Farm (ie the BBC2 programme) which is near where they live. A Scunthorpe fan is walking round with a clip board and leaflets, promoting the campaign to keep Scunthorpe's standing section, asking everyone to sign the petition. Apparently, after a club has been in the Championship for three seasons, their stadium must be all seated. If Scunthorpe get relegated this season, there will not be a problem, but if they remain in the Championship, they would have to reduce their capacity even more, to put the seats in the North Stand.
I then make my leave and walk round the ground taking some more pictures, meeting another Ipswich fan, also taking some photos and also going round the grounds. I go into the club shop looking for a mascot figure for Wendy, but they haven't got any today. The ground from the outside looks pretty nondescript and mainly grey in colour. There's a big crowd buying tickets form the ticket office and I move through them to enter the ground, going into the Telegraph Stand, which is the main stand. There's no searching and once inside you realise just how small a ground it is. It's all seated apart from the stand behind the goal to my left. The seats are either maroon or sky blue and they're all on one level. It seems more like an upmarket League 2 ground rather than a Championship one.
There's a bit of a commotion as I go in and it turns out the Scunthorpe mascot, Scunny Bunny, (great name!), is giving out sweets and balloons to all the children. I manage to get my photo taken with him, only when I look at the photo I notice he's got boobs! In fact he is not a he, but a she! It's his missus: Honey Bunny in fact! I still wonder if it's a bloke inside though.....?!!!
I go to where I came in hoping to find a food and drinks stall, but no, there is no concourse underneath the stand. Instead it's situated at the far end of the stand, next to the toilets. Now I understand why this is the smallest stadium in the Championship at the moment.
There's around seven hundred Ipswich Fans in the stand to my right and some fans hold up a banner at the front, with the message, "LET FANS STAND" on it. The PA plays "Hi Ho Silver Lining" and then Sham 69's, "If the Kids are United" just before the teams come out. There's plenty of singing form the Ipswich fans all the way through the first half, but the Scunthorpe fans are pretty quiet.
The first half is dominated by Scunthorpe who seem all over Ipswich apart from the occasional counter attack. Scunthorpe take a deserved lead in the 30th minute when David Mirfin managed to beat the offside trap and head in a nifty header past Marton Fulop in the Ipswich goal. Ipswich tried to equalise but it was still 1-0 at half time.
As I was waiting to buy a cup of tea at half time I could swear it's Kevin Keegan speaking over the PA, but it's only the announcer with a typical Scunthorpe accent! It's the only football league ground I've been to where you can walk right past the tunnel if you want to. Obviously stewards stand on guard whilst the teams come out, but I suppose you could sneak into the dressing rooms if you really wanted to.
The second half was more even stevens. Obviously Roy Keen had give the Ipswich players a bollocking at half time and they soon got an equalizer, thanks to the efforts of Peters who caught Murphy off his line
In fact they nearly got the winner a few minutes later when Edwards hit the bar and then Scotland shot the rebound toward the goal, only for Byrne to push it wide.
After that Scunthorpe woke up and they too nearly got the winner when Eddie Nolan's shot was tipped wide by Fulop. In fact it was quite an entertaining match with the Ipswich number 2, Jamie Scotland and Cliff Byrne at the centre of the Scunthorpe defence impressing me.
I left on the 90th minute in order to get out of the car park before it got clogged up. Even so there was a bit of a jam already, so I went right at the roundabout, rather then left and then all the way round it so I could back onto the M181.
I then drove to Sheffield where I was staying the night. Each time I visit Sheffield I make a point of visiting Hillsborough and paying my respects to the 96 fans who died there, hence the flowers. As I arrived at Hillsborough the Southampton coach was parked up, waiting to leave, so I got some strange looks form the players as I walked past with a bunch of red carnations in my hand! It was then back to hotel to write up this report and have a nice meal in the hotel restaurant which is just across the road from Sheffield Arena, and where I have stayed before.
Next day I drove back down to Essex via Leicester, Coventry and Northampton, taking some pictures of their grounds for the website.

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