TT GROUNDHOPPING – Scunthorpe United (A) by Matty Hayward


Matty Hayward


Matty discusses his trip to Scunthorpe


Living in the North of England has its perks, that much is clear. What wasn’t clear, when I made the proper leap of securing full time employment up here, was that one of those perks would be the relative proximity of Scunthorpe. But there I was, tucked up in bed at 10am, five hours after many Gulls fans had begun their journey, knowing I’d make Saturday’s away game without panic.

It was around this time that I received a phone call from my dad. He’s a man who had, days before on our weekly Zoom, used extremely disparaging language about the North Lincolnshire town, and the prospect of making the trip. He’s a man who had, the night before, won fairly big in an online poker tournament, and hastily booked his tickets to zigzag up the country. 

Or had he? I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind, as I checked the date, that I was being made an April fool of. It would’ve been out of character for him to be so cruel, I think, but as I hurriedly tidied my bedroom in anticipation of the night’s unexpected visitor, I did text my mum to check.

It was all good though, the 25-minute walk to Stockport railway station was brisk, the Starbucks typically overpriced (and under-taxed), and the train on time. The peaks were splendid as always: this time replete with bleats, as hundreds of lambs took their maiden steps on the sun-soaked turf. Little did those wee babies know that the first few weeks of their lives would coincide with one of the greatest great escapes in football history.

I met the old man, along with a smattering of Yellows, at Doncaster. We admired the new design of the Strongbow cans, checked the name of the adjacent canal, and criticised the lack of on-board bins. As you can imagine, the time flew by, and the pub beckoned.

The Honest Lawyer is a peculiar boozer, in that it looks a bit like a hipstery saloon, with cutely upholstered armchairs and sexy bar stools. At over seven pounds for a round, its prices would go on to look positively artisan in comparison to other establishments in the area. 

14:20 called, and we scurried back to the railway station in search of a taxi. I rang one company, who said they’d be 15 minutes. I said that was alright, but within moments an eight-seater lobster pulled up. This was, perhaps, excessive for the two of us, but it guaranteed our arrival before kick off (and a subsequent lift up the hill after the game) so we hijacked it and bundled in. I’d like to place on record my sincere thanks to the inimitable service of Ashby Cars, and my sincere apologies to Candy Cars, whom I let down in my absence. 

The game was great, obviously. There is, doubtless, no feeling in the whole world like watching your team score away from home in a big game. I genuinely pity people who don’t get that, and wonder where they get their joy and adrenaline from. 

At this point I’d like to thank a man called Sean Dudley, who has now accosted me at numerous away games to state his affection for my writing. I said then that I’d mention him in my next piece, and forgot each time. This time, he asked for a selfie, a request with which I duly obliged, and now here’s his appreciation paragraph too.

Sean and his GullsSoc colleagues made for excellent co-spectators, and renditions of I Predict Ben Wyatt were in no short supply.

We skipped past melancholic Iron fans; we taxied up the hill; we scuttled to Lidl; we dipped into Spoons; we dipped out of spoons because it was unbearably loud and busy; we hustled down to a new pub – The Tavern – whose music was good but loud, whose clientele was…enjoying its Saturday night, and whose beer was extraordinarily cheap (£5.30 for TWO pints). 

Having made an absolute meal of getting to the railway station, we discovered that our train was cancelled, so it was back to the Lawyer for two swift ones in the intervening hour. The following TPE service was seamless, and the site of:

 a. Mine and dad’s almost monthly debate about Keir Starmer;

 b. Dad being called a “perv” by an inebriated onlooker for – very obviously by accident – trying to open a toilet door that contained an apologetic, mid-ablutions woman.

The night couldn’t really end there, so we stumbled around Stockport until a fantastic pub revealed itself. I’m not enough of a local to be wholly au fait with all the refreshment points in the town, so the twinkling lamplight and hardy hanging baskets of the Swan with Two Necks appealed as an exciting new option, and it quickly earned itself a place in the pantheon of Great Northern Boozers.

Then we stumbled home, three points richer and a few pounds poorer than twenty-four hours before. It may be that the result is academic, come the end of April, but that will not, and cannot, detract from an absolutely fantastic away day. 







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