What’s a better word than disappointment?

Alan Knill

Well, success would be nice!

But honestly– with Scunthorpe United finishing 18th post-relegation, labelling our season a ‘success’ would be violating the Trades Descriptions Act. To be avoided if possible!

It’s been a long, painful season of upheaval –where for a considerable few months, we flirted dangerously with relegation and a return to League Two for the first time since 2005. Thankfully, following an active January and a brief scoring flurry, Scunthorpe United live to fight another day, and shall be battling in League One in 2012/2013.

If you searched the Scunthorpe category on WAGU, you’ll notice it’s been a quiet 2012 for myself. With ourselves having been consistently underwhelming but avoiding Armageddon – nothing of real note has punctured the latter half of our season. We were saved by there being enough sides slightly worse than ourselves, 18th was about fair.

Indeed, where we would have finished without re-signing David Mirfin, alongside our new cult hero  Jon ‘Beast’ Parkin is anybody’s guess. Successive relegations without Plymouth-esque financial Armageddon is perversely impressive achievement for any side really. There was a revolving door of loanees, ranging from Sam Johnstone to Jamie Reckord and Connor MacAleny, but all never stretched to being emphatic or enigmatic sadly.

But it’s no surprise to see that fellow defender Paul Reid has been publically pleading for Mirfs to stay! Nobody has even tried to get Parkin to do the same – he’s miles out of our league financially for permanent residing. I’ll bare my backside in Scunthorpe Primark if he signs up full time!

A run of one defeat in nine games through late February and March slowly guided us away from the bottom and into the relative happy bliss of mid-table mediocrity, virtual respectability and hopes for a summer season of rebuilding and pushing for brighter things next season. A particular highlight of this run was a wonderful cliché of Yeovil away.

With the first game having been postponed due to frost, (Scunthorpe fans had got as far as Cheltenham!), we desperate wanted the re-arranged fixture to be on hassle-free. So when the supporters coaches reached Bristol and were engulfed in fog – worries were rampant! Thankfully, the game managed to go on regardless, (even if the views were terrible).

And to cap being 300 miles away from home, (we weren’t back till well gone 3AM), a Jon Parkin 94th minute equaliser sent the 100-strong Iron contingent delirious. Whilst not the most important, it was certainly my favourite personal moment, having travelled to every single Scunthorpe United away game this season… apologies – none of us are perfect!

If nothing else, we did have a unique record. Having drawn more games than anyone else in the entire Football League – an unwanted mass of 22 draws from just 46 games. The all-time record in English professional history is twenty-three. Bloody typical, only one away from matching the record!

In all seriousness though: this has long typified our woes. With manager Alan Knill having been fortunate not to have been sacked at the turn of the year with us second bottom – the fans deserve huge credit with having stuck by the manager and players though the very tumultuous year. We’re a patient bunch!

Ranging from exciting draws away to Charlton, to dull and shocking affairs against Chesterfield and Wycombe, they have marred our season: for whilst we have been defensively sound for huge parts, the goals have for far too often: sorely lacking. Chris Dagnall sold, Bobby Grant blunt. Not a good partnership or combination at all.

The final twist in the tail is one that had been expected per se, but not quite in this manner. With the budget confirmed as being decreased for next season – it is as yet unknown as to whether we can yet build a successful team in Knill’s mould: or find ourselves creeping ever further backwards for a wee bit longer.

10 players have been released – including the likes of decent and honest club servants such as Garry Thompson, Sam Togwell, Eddie Nolan, Michael O’Connor & Josh Lillis. All have been regulars throughout the season – and despite having option of automatic renewal over some, the gaffer has instead opted for a clear-out. That by nature requires putting by-products out to pasture. Hard to take – but not shocking:  Especially when considering our financial motivations and league position.

That said – what truly was a shock was the release of adored club captain Cliff Byrne after nine years of wonderful service that kids of dream of giving to clubs. Popular with supporters, and completing his UEFA A Licence coaching qualification in the summer – it was hoped that the blood & thunder Right-Back would be with Scunthorpe United till the cows came home.

He and the fans have been placated with the promise of a benefit match, (with him one year short of a testimonial), but it’s just not the same…

After all, he’s guided us through three promotions, and arguably our most successful historical purple patch. So for him to be callously let float in the wind of uncertainty post-release is heart-breaking. With Cliffy known to not be on a fortune – it was particularly perplexing.

But what can we say? This is the nature of modern football, although it’s rare you hear interviews with local radio stations where the footballer is clearly genuinely heartbroken post-release. The same is true of the fans, and the outreach of support on Twitter has been wonderful.

Nothing in football ought to surprise me anymore. For Christ’s sake, Steve Kean has still got the Blackburn job.

So with Scunny now having one goalkeeper, no full-backs: and a shockingly blunt forward line – who knows what could happen next? Indeed, I might win the lottery and invest to see the return of Cliff…

It might be the only chance we’ve got of promotion any time soon! See you all next year.

The top of League One, and the Championship were good whilst they lasted… But who really wants to go back there eh?

Written by Max Bell, We Are Going Up’s Scunthorpe United blogger

Max tweets at @UseTheLeftWing

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