SUFC 09 9 Cliff Byrne Select XI 2
By Luke Thornhill
Updated Sunday, 29th July 2012
Scunthorpe players past and present were at Glanford Park on Sunday to pay tribute to Cliff Byrne, who spent nine years at the club.
A match between the 2009 promotion-winning Iron side and an Iron invitational line-up was played in front of a crowd of 2,942 following the club's annual open day.
"It was a brilliant day from start to finish. I'm overwhelmed and very thankful for my time at the club," said Byrne, who was released by the Iron this summer and has since joined Oldham Athletic.
"Thank you for welcoming me into your club, your town, your hearts.
"A massive thanks to everyone from the town of Scunthorpe, you've been very good to me."
Former managers Nigel Adkins and Brian Laws took charge of the teams, with the celebratory mood enhanced by running commentary and pitchside interviews from club stalwart Lee Turnbull.
The invitational side struck first through Cleveland Taylor, but goals from Paul Hayes, Byrne - a retaken penalty after he chipped his first effort over the crossbar - and Ben May ensured the 09 team lead 3-1 at the break.
Andy Keogh missed a penalty which would have reduced the deficit in the final act of the 45 minutes.
Byrne swopped sides at half-time, representing the invitational side. He pulled one back 10 minutes into the second-half, slotting home after Steve Torpey's effort had come back off a post.
Alex Calvo-Garcia put the 09 side, who by now also included Lee Hodges and 1999 Wembley winners Jamie Forrester and Chris Hope, further ahead and Grant McCann made it 5-2 with half an hour to play.
Hayes added two goals to complete his hat-trick - scoring the third past Peter Beagrie, who had replaced Tommy Evans in goal - with Ben May and Ian Morris also on the scoresheet.
"The turnout shows the high regard he is held in by both players and supporters. He is the ultimate professional, and deserves all the praise he gets," said Andy Crosby, a former teammate at the Iron, who also coached him as assistant manager under Adkins.
"He's great to play with, a real leader of a group and I'm sure he'll take that forward to Oldham."
Steve Torpey was among the players who returned to pay tribute to their former teammate.
"When I got the phone call there was no hesitation, to come back and play here and the double whammy to play in Cliff's benefit game was a no brainer for me," he said.
"We had some good times, with two promotions when Cliff was in the team. It was a fantastic time in Scunthorpe's history."