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Opinion: Plenty at stake as Iron head to Rotherham

Photo Luke Broughton

Well, that was exciting now wasn’t it? A full (well, ish) Glanford Park, a warm May’s afternoon, dodgy defending, 4 goals, and plenty more missed chances besides – it was a perfect encapsulation of what the play-offs are all about.

There might have “only” been 6,600 inside Glanford Park, but at times it felt like double that; as both sets of fans did their best to drive their teams on for the privilege to get beat by Shrewsbury at Wembley.

But that’s the beauty of the play-offs, it’s incredibly simple yet complicated at the same time. Nothing is ever just about the 90 minutes; but they decide in split-second moments as to whether the previous 12 months was all worth it. The stress? The months of sweating and planning? All worth it if you get promoted.

Would Nigel Adkins have ever managed in the Premier League had Jude Stirling scored a match-winning penalty for MK Dons? Or if Gary Alexander hadn’t missed a sitter for Millwall when it was still 2-2? I have my doubts…

Those moments define your entire season just gone, the entire season to come, and even more. Will we be trekking to Wycombe, or to Aston Villa? Will be re-united with Hull City, or face a nostalgic kicking at Sincil Bank? Whether you can seize the moments that don’t come around very often, can define a club’s success (or lack of!) for years and years to come…

This is especially the case when you are in as much a state of flux as Scunthorpe are. With the plans for Glanford Park’s redevelopment expected to be flexible depending what division we are in, the legacy of Wednesday night (heaven forbid any trip to Wembley); could literally face us for generations to come. And that’s before we even discuss on-field matters!

At my best count; Conor Townsend, Charlie Goode, Andrew Crofts (good to know he’s still alive), Neal Bishop, Duane Holmes, Hakeeb Adelakun, Luke Williams (is he fit yet?), Jonathon Margetts (who?), and Tom Hopper are all out of contract this summer. And that’s before you even include Toney, Yates and McGeehan (all of whom have been crucial in recent weeks); returning to their parent clubs after their respective loans expire.

Now, some of them are just a drag on the wage bill and need to find a new club for their sake’s and ours. But that clearly isn’t the case for them all… Trying to adequately and simultaneously replace Holmes, Adelakun, Yates and Toney in particular could prove almost impossible in League One next season.

Potentially having to sign 3 quality central midfielders, 2 tricky wingers, and 3 prolific strikers, then ingratiate them all effectively into the squad – will be a very difficult task to say the very least. Couple this with Chairman Swann stating our need to “cut our cloth accordingly” next season if we remain in the third tier come August, and this becomes all the more of a mountain to climb. It wouldn’t be an easy feat in the Championship either – especially as the current squad would indisputably need significant investment to survive in that division.

But with the increased wage bill, increased TV, ticket and commercial revenue; and greater attraction to potential new signings – we would at least stand more of a fighting chance of not going backwards. All too often, rebuilding proves even harder than the original building itself.

After the near misses of the previous two years, the shelving of the new ground, the imminent Glanford Park redevelopment, and the undoubted shattering psychological impact that numerous play-off failures has on sides (just ask Lincoln and Sheff Utd); this very does have a feeling of ‘now or never’ for Scunthorpe…

Will we be looking back in 10 years and wondering ‘what if’? The width of a post, tracking your runner off the ball, the slip of a defender, a poor refereeing decision, goal-line technology, an inspired substitution, a mistimed tackle, an inconvenient injury, a moment of magic, a well-executed set piece…

All of these could yet define us for years to come. Let’s not die wondering eh Iron? Make yourself heroes, have a real impact for years to come!

(You can follow Max on Twitter at @Max_Bell_11, and keep an eye out for him on Thursday – where he will be representing Iron Bru at the annual Football Blogging Awards in London)

Written by Max Bell

Scunthorpe United Fan and match summariser for BBC Radio Humberside.

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