THERE is something of an old boys’ club forming at Scunthorpe and Cliff Byrne is hoping the familiar faces will bring a familiar end to this season – promotion. During his first stint with the Iron, Byrne amassed 308 appearances over nine-and-a-bit seasons – if you include his loan spell during 2002-03.
During that time the Irishman won three promotions, the first in 2005 from League One under Brian Laws.
Laws left to manage Sheffield Wednesday in 2006, but Byrne and Matt Sparrow remained and helped the club reach the Championship twice – in 2007 and then again in a dramatic League One play-off final against Millwall in 2009.
Those memories Byrne still holds dear, as he does the friends he made during his first stint with the club.
Full-back Andy Dawson was around during Byrne’s early days and he was drafted in this summer by Laws – who returned as manager in October 2012 – to help the club bounce back from relegation last season.
Sparrow has also came back to Glanford Park and Byrne, who is on loan from Oldham until late December, says he just could not say no to his old boss.
“It certainly didn’t take long to settle back in,” said Byrne. “It was pretty easy to be honest. There was a bit of banter flying around with some of the lads who have also returned.
“There’s a few. Andy I know well, and Matt Sparrow is also back, so you could say it is a bit of an old boys’ club. The gaffer played a big part in my decision to come back. He showed a bit of interest inthe summer and I was keen to get involved.
“With the situation at Oldham I just had to be patient, and thankfully the move happened which was good for all parties. I’m confident we have the ability and the firepower to be a success this season, and everyone is working hard towards it.
“I had three promotions in my first spell, and I definitely want to be successful here again. Wherever you go you want to be successful and I want to taste it again. There are 20 other clubs that want it as well, though.
“The one memory that stands out was the trip to Wembley and beating Millwall. I scored in the last minute against Tranmere to send us into the play-offs on the last day against Tranmere, and that stands out too.
“The first promotion was also special, but it’s great to be back here. Brian was kind enough to give me my Football League debut, but his path eventually took him away from the club. Now he’s back he’s after a similar type of player, the hard-working type, and he’s trying to feed that into the squad.
“Any team that wants to be successful needs a blend, a good mix, and we are starting to get that balance right I think.”
A win over York in midweek would have seen Scunthorpe move level on points at the top of League Two – but a 4-1 thumping left them way down in ninth place. But with the league so tight, Byrne says he is tempted to stay and see the job out for a fourth time.
“It’s an open ticket really,” he added. “When the move first came about everyone was happy and Oldham played their part. If they want to, I’d be more than happy to stay until the end of the season, but it’s dangerous to look too far ahead.
Football can sometimes turn around and slap you in the face, so at the moment I’m just taking it week by week.”
The 31-year-old defender alsohopes to move into the dugout when he retires, and he got a taste for it when Paul Dickov was sacked as Latics boss last season.
“The chairman promoted Tony Philliskirk, who is a terrific coach, and he, myself and Paul Gerrard, the goalkeeping coach, were looking after things before Lee Johnson arrived.
“I learnt an awful lot, and I’m currently doing my A-Licence. You never know when an opportunity will come. You have to be ready because it’s often when you least expect it.”