Iron and Imps hope to exert the Lincs effect
Three years ago, Lincolnshire boasted four Football League representatives. Following Grimsby Town’s relegation from League Two in May, that number is now just two. Boston United were first to fall back in 2007 and the Pilgrims have since endured a turbulent period, including two enforced demotions for financial reasons.
However, Boston celebrated promotion back to the Blue Square North this summer and Grimsby now sit just a division above them. There were nearly two more Lincolnshire clubs swapping divisions in the Football League.
If Boston are on the way back and Grimsby are looking to start afresh, then the situations at both Scunthorpe United and Lincoln City also reflect a need to rebuild.
When the new Championship season kicks off in August, Scunthorpe will again be playing at the same level for only the second time in six years. The Iron secured their divisional status just two games from the end of last season and manager Nigel Adkins is busily trying to restructure his team on a tight budget.
Influential players have either already left Glanford Park or are on the cusp of leaving for pastures new. The departures of striker Paul Hayes to Championship rivals Barnsley and midfielder Grant McCann to Gary Johnson’s Peterborough will hit Scunthorpe hard, but it is their 22-year-old goal machine Gary Hooper whose seemingly imminent absence will be most keenly felt.
Highly-rated striker Hooper appears to be on the verge of a move up the east coast to Middlesbrough. If he completes the switch to ‘Boro, Gordon Strachan’s side will gain the services of a 30-goal Championship striker and the Iron will have lost the man responsible for almost half of their goals last season.
Adkins has already moved to replace Hooper and Hayes by signing a pair of strikers who impressed in League Two last season, Rochdale’s Chris Dagnall and Accrington Stanley’s Bobby Grant. This is the reality for a club the size of Scunthorpe as they aim to emulate successes such as the 2-1 victory over champions Newcastle United last October.
30 miles down the A15, the departure of Scunthorpe’s H-bombs will mean very little to one half of the SAS partnership that fired Blackburn Rovers to the Premiership title in 1995. Chris Sutton has a job to do.
Sutton arrived at Lincoln in September last year, thrown in at the deep end of the Football League with no managerial experience to call upon. The former Chelsea striker appears to be slowly adapting to life in the hotseat, though, and began to craft a quietly impressive side through astute temporary signings.
The challenge for Sutton now is to hit the ground running in his first full campaign in charge, an aim made more difficult by the outstanding loanee striker Davide Somma’s return to parent club Leeds United. A series of bargain buys, such as Barnet’s Albert Jarrett and Torquay’s Moustapha Carayol, have since arrived at Sincil Bank following good performances against Sutton’s side last season.
In truth, many Football League managers will be shopping on the cheap this summer but perhaps none more so than Adkins and Sutton. For Scunthorpe and Lincoln, mid-table mediocrity in their respective leagues may be marked a real success.