Blog: The unlikely lads
Article by Matt Blanchard
Updated Friday, 1st March 2013
Matthew Kennington talks Garcia, Torres and his love of Scunthorpe United, penning our latest blog article from Spain.
As the friendly madrileño barman stared at me with a look somewhere between confusion and doubt, I couldn't decide whether or not to give him the full explanation. The conclusion of which would bring him no closer to understanding why I support Scunthorpe United or just how much Scunthorpe United has played a part in shaping who I am and what I've done.
The Spanish don't do 'provincial football love' like the English. The football team is not part of a community founded during the latter years of the industrial revolution, which most of Spain is still waiting for. It's Madrid or Barcelona, or perhaps Atletico or Atletic, and after those they might hold some small flame for their local team.
I pity them as I pity my friends who chose to support Manchester United while mocking me for following the Iron. Sheep without a soul, who just see the benefits of the glory but fail to grasp the unlikely reality that Scunthorpe United really are just as important
When I first met my wife in the summer of 1999, I was overjoyed to learn that she was Spanish. I gleefully told them the unlikely story of a Basque hero playing his trade in the English lower leagues and who had even scored the winning goal at Wembley Stadium.
Is it possible that thanks to Alex, I was infact more attracted to Spanish girls? Unlikely you might think, but at the very least it gave me a way to engage a very pretty spaniard.
We got engaged and married and we often come back to Brigg to visit my family. I have taken Aida to see Scunthorpe home and away but like the barman she doesn't really get it.
Her father worked for Real Madrid and often went to games. I couldn't believe my luck when she told me. I went to quite a few games and now hold a small torch for the spanish giants. But you cannot beat that feeling when the Glanford Park announcer's voice breaks and Scunny proudly run onto that sacred turf.
Even as I sat and saw Yeovil Town destroy us 4 nil for my five-year-old daughter´s first ever game, I knew that it was more important to be there than in the heated seats of the Bernabeu.
Scunthorpe will always be the unlikely lads. It's unlikely they will achieve much in the general context. It's more than likely that they will continue to swim about the lower tiers but it's certain that we will still care and follow them whatever their predicament with pride.
The best and worst part about being an exile is you don't see your team play very often. 2006/2007 was my worst and best time as a Scunthorpe fan. Not being able to enjoy the teams' games with my mates hurt. Maybe there would never be another team like that one. In the end I just couldn't miss the party. I booked a flight to Liverpool, met a friend and went to Tranmere. The scenes at the end of the game will live with me forever. An unlikely dream with our unlikely physio- turned- manager.
The next time I was in Liverpool, was as a guest of Fernando Torres, who I had taught in 2006. At the end of our last class, Fernando presented me with an Atletico shirt. One he had worn. Wow, cheers pal. I opened my bag and proudly handed him my Scunthorpe shirt. As unlikely as it might sound, in my eyes, my shirt was just as important as the shirt he was giving me.
He smiled and asked me to sign it. I like to think that he has it framed, somewhere between his European and World Cup shirts, not just in some box under one of his many stairs.
I suppose the reason I wanted to write this was as a way of saying thanks to Scunthorpe United but it's not only a thanks but also a plea or a reminder. We all need to believe in something, have something which is important to us.
Sometimes as fans we feel the club doesn't listen or that they don't value us. Groups like the Iron Trust exist because there are thousands of people who really care and whose life would be far worse without a football club in Scunthorpe.
So, to whoever takes over from Mr Wharton, never underestimate the importance of the unlikely lads.