x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Banking on the kids is paying dividends for Iron

My team: Scunthorpe United If The Kids Are United, a song from the British punk band Sham 69, is what my team Scunthorpe United run out to. It sums us up perfectly.

After paying Sheffield United £100,000 for Billy Sharp, Scunthorpe sold him back to them for £2million.
After paying Sheffield United £100,000 for Billy Sharp, Scunthorpe sold him back to them for £2million.

If The Kids Are United, a song from the British punk band Sham 69, is what my team Scunthorpe United run out to. It sums us up perfectly. We are a working class team for a northern English working class town - our nickname is the Iron, thanks to the iron and steel works that still employ tens of thousands of locals. Most fans were born in the town and the side reflect us. We are hard-working blue collar fans, we demand the players run themselves into the ground for us. Talent is secondary to the work rate: run for 90 minutes, go for every 50/50 ball, and we will love you.

We have no glory hunters and no wealthy benefactor, so all our success - and many decades of mediocrity - has been built on developing young players. Often we take on players discarded by so-called bigger clubs, improve them, then struggle to keep hold of them. The forward Billy Sharp is a prime example, we paid £100,000 (Dh533,000) to Sheffield United for him. Two years and a hatful of goals later, they paid us £2million to take him back.

Lately we have managed to keep more than we have lost and are enjoying a purple patch. We reached the Championship (the second tier of English football) for the first time in 40 years last season. For those of us who grew up watching us lose at home to Rochdale and Scarborough, it was as big as Manchester United winning the Champions League. We discovered Kevin Keegan and Ray Clemence, and even gave the cricketer Ian Botham a place in the team. Keegan's never-say-day attitude, giving your all no matter where your talent ends, sums us up. As Sham 69 sing, if the kids are united they will never be divided.

* Luke Thornhill