As illustrated above, all roads lead to Glanford Park tomorrow for the more eagerly anticipated than it probably should be M180 derby. Forget your Leeds and your Sheffield clubs, as far as I’m concerend this is this season’s local derby of choice. For as long as I’ve followed Rovers our local rivals have been Scunthorpe and Rotherham. I’m not going to let fame and fortune change me, I’m sticking to my roots. We have to beat Scunthorpe; chim chiminee, chim chiminee, chim chim cheroo and all that.
Such is the significance of this rivalry in my mind that I remember getting a fat lip from a stray jubilant elbow celebrating an equaliser at Glanford Park… in a pre-season friendly. In fact so ferociously competitive was that particular friendly match at the turn of the Millennium that a Scunthorpe United website at the time chose brilliantly to replace their usual match report with an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. And then of course there was the Division Three title season; 2-0 down and down to ten men with six minutes to go and Dave Penney’s 3-3-3 formation comes up trumps with a last gasp equaliser from Leo Fortune-West, by the time the players lined up for kick-off after it I was lying on a row of seats three in front of those I’d been actually sat on beneath a pile of at least six similarly extatic friends. Good memories.
Its not all been good at Glanford Park though as Sean O’Driscoll knows too well. Very early in his tenure as Rovers manager, with his plans for the fluid football we now enjoy still being moulded O’Driscoll’s Rovers went down to a particularly drab 2-0 defeat. In the final ten minutes of that game there were audible shouts for O’Driscoll to be sacked (barely two months in). With not a shot on goal in ninety minutes the frustration, though a little too reactionary, was understandable, but thankfully that game was to prove the nadir from which we have subsequently marched onwards.
So, what from this season’s visit to the tin shed opposite Tescos. Rovers make the short trip with two men knwon to the locals in their ranks; Mark Wilson is Scunthorpe born and still lives in the town, whilst in Billy Sharp Rovers also have a Glanford Park favourite out to hurt his former deciples. Both are likely to feature, and now would be a timely opportunity for Sharp to make his mark on his new team, as thus far I don’t think its too harsh to say the end product has not met the hype.
Scunthorpe themselves boast a face familiar to the opposition, although given his pace the back of his head may be more familiar to those who tried to keep up in training. Jonathan Forte spent two lengthy loan spells with Rovers in the first year of Sean O’Driscoll’s reign and made his mark too with some excellent goals, and some notable ones too, scoring in the first ever match at the Keepmoat and also in the Johnstones Paint Trophy Final at the Millennium Stadium.
Scunthorpe come into this game on an impressive run of form in the Championship and in the League Cup. In the latter they progressed to the fourth round on Tuesday night with an extra-time victory over the scurge of Sheffield; Port Vale. In the league they have enjoyed their best week thus far, starting with a 4-0 win at Crystal Palace and ending with a 1-1 draw at Bristol City, either side of an impressive 3-1 win over Preston North End. In short, they may be one of the favourites for the drop this season, but we know too well that this is not something to simply accept. It is set to be a close game in corrugated cathedral, and one that should mean a lot to whoever triumphs.
Guess who’s not available. Yep, thats right, Steve Brooker and Sean McDaid as they’re off to Ikea to pick out some new additions for their medical room. Also unavailable is James Hayter who is ruled out with a hamstring injury, and of course most significantly Brian Stock who looks set to be out until Christmas with his ankle injury. There is some good news though with suggestions that Jamie Coppinger and Paul Heffernan could be fit enough to feature; oh, and Lewis Guy.
Scunthorpe are expected to be without influential forward Gary Hooper who is struggling with a hamstring problem. If Hooper is ruled out they will most likely start with Paul Hayes and Jonathan Forte up front. Goalkeeper Joe Murphy will also face a late fitness test, according to the BBC.
Travelling to the Game
M18, M180, job done. Oh and watch out for the speed cameras lurking on the hard shoulder. Train wise, Glanford Park is one of those annoying grounds that you pass on the train then have to wait an age to reach the station. In fact, the walk back from the station to the ground is about the same as the length of the train journey.