What an odd experience last Wednesday was!
A freezing cold Racecourse (there’s nothing odd about that, as anyone planning to watch a home game in December will attest!), and opponents who didn’t turn up. I don’t mean they didn’t turn up like Torquay United, who were there in body but offered no resistance in the course of a 6-0 battering. Scunthorpe actually weren’t there!
It was very peculiar, sitting in the chilling cold, wondering why neither side was warming up an hour before kick-off. Finally the rumour that The Iron were stuck in traffic spread, but still we were stuck in a peculiar limbo.
When would they arrive? Would they arrive? Would there be a point where they’d have to forfeit the match?
Everybody was hurriedly consulting social media and searching on Google for the FA Trophy regulations, while our virtual visitors continued to be anywhere but where they ought to have been.
Their secretary got in touch to say they’d arrive at 8, 15 minutes after the scheduled kick-off, and eventually it was announced that the game would commence at 8.30. That seemed quite generous from the referee because, if I’d been making the decision, I’d have made them get changed on the bus and go straight onto the pitch when they arrived, like a school match.
The reason I’d be so harsh is quite simple. There’s absolutely no excuse for what Scunthorpe did. I fit had been a part-time club, I’d not be anywhere near so critical, but we’re talking about a full-time club which was in the Football League as recently as last season.
What on earth were they playing at, setting out so late as to make the rush hour traffic on the M62 an issue? The usual convention is that clubs will leave for midweek games in the early afternoon and stop at a hotel for a pre-match meal near their hosts before making the final, short leg of their journey.
So, as I asked, what were Scunthorpe playing at? Frankly, nobody knows for sure. They have been deafeningly silent on the issue. There has been no public apology, there’s just one sentence which mentions their tardiness in the match report on their official website, and that’s just a matter-of-fact cursory statement that the game started 45 minutes late because they were stuck in “extreme traffic”.
Their social media is hardly any more useful: indeed, before kick-off they didn’t even issue a statement: they just retweeted what Wrexham were saying!
To be fair to their media team, though, it was hardly their fault because they were there two hours before kick-off, proving that travel between Humberside and North Wales was perfectly feasible as long as you actually allow yourself plenty of time!
Likewise, the heroic 47 away fans managed to find their way to the ground before their team did! Again, there has been no apology issued to them, even though they would have had to begin the long journey back across country after 10.30 p.m.!
It was such a poor effort, and justice was at least done as our team, completely rotated from our last game and featuring five players in the starting eleven who hadn’t previously started for us all season, beat them comfortably.
The lack of respect Scunthorpe showed fans of both clubs, quite apart from their opponents, is deeply disappointing. It was their first match in the FA Trophy and, although it is a competition which fans don’t tend to value, United took that attitude to the extremes! Hopefully we won’t be playing in the Trophy next season, but even if we aren’t, I’ll keep an eye out for Scunthorpe’s third round tie next December. Just to check if they turn up, you understand.