Scunthorpe the town did not develop until around the 1880’s, when the steel industry began growing. The population of the area expanded rapidly and five villages became one larger area. In 1936 these villages assumed the name of Scunthorpe and became an established borough. As far as football is concerned , Scunthorpe United was formed on 29 August 1899, operating at a minor level playing only in the local football league. Locally there are also records of Brumby Hall and Scunthorpe Town, who became defunct in the late 1890’s.
In 1902 another team was formed in the area, – North Lindsey United. They played their home games at Crosby, just a stone’s throw away from the Show Ground, which was the home of United. The amalgamation of the two clubs formed Scunthorpe and Lindsey United in 1910. The Show Ground, which only much later had Old added as a prefix, became their new home. It was originally rented by Mr. R.A.C Symes for £10….
In the Thirties the town had grown to such a size that Scunthorpe and Lindsey United pressed for Football League status, making several applications starting in 1937. Their perseverance was rewarded in 1950 when they were finally voted into the League. The ‘Lindsey’ was dropped from the club’s title in the mid 50’s.
It was after the Second World war that Scunthorpe United adopted the town’s coat of arms as their crest. It was prepared by the College of Arms reflecting the town’s history and character. The two shells in the shield, the gryphoea incurva, represent the fossils most commonly found in the ironstone. The five-linked chain represents the five original villages and parishes of Ashby, Brumby, Crosby, Frodingham and Scunthorpe, which were combined to form the borough. The sheaf of wheat depicts the agricultural heritage of the town. The blast furnace in the crest represents the principal industry of the steel town. The knight’s helmet, commonly used in civic heraldry, shows the town’s authority as a legally constituted former borough, while the mantel symbolises the dynamism and bravery of the borough. The wonderful motto ‘Refulgit Labores Nostros Cœlum stands’ for ‘The heavens reflect our labours’, an allusion to the illumination of the sky which occurred at night time when hot molten slag was disposed of.
This shield appeared on players shirts from 1948 until 1950 . From then shirts no longer had this crest, even though it was still recognised until into the 1970’s. From then on a more simplified version was used. It illustrated the former five authorities as links of a chain, contained in a shield, with the words Scunthorpe United around the outside. This crest with it the red shield coincided with the club’s change of colours to all-red.
Up until 1959 the team had worn claret and blue, followed by claret shirts with blue sleeves in an ambitious attempt to emulate the success of Aston Villa. When in the early Sixties the club was only two places away from promotion to the top flight they felt their status deserved a new look. White shirts with a blue and old gold trim were introduced. It was felt that they would be better picked out under floodlights. The old gold was dropped in in the mid 1960’s and under manager Fred Goodwin became all white for a time with blue trim. All-red colours, with some white added at various times were en vogue for over a decade from 1968. In the early days Scunthorpe had tried to emulate the successful team of the day Aston Villa; now they looked to the all-conquering Liverpool.
In 1982, when United had somehow still failed to win the European Cup, there was a call to go back to the original claret and blue colours and with it came another crest. This was the clenched fist holding the five link chain in a circular design, with the club’s name written on the outer band of the crest. The motto used was Unity as a sign of the united front and strength of the team.
However, following the dreadful events at Bradford, Hillsborough and Brussels in the Eighties, Scunthorpe United wanted to promote a more family-like approach. It was thought that the clenched fist with the chain might be misinterpreted as something aggressive.
The solution came in 1988 when the club became the first league side for over 30 years to sell their old ground to move to Glanford Park. Technically speaking the ground is just outside Scunthorpe in a district called Glanford. The council became the club’s first sponsor and so United took the Borough of Glanford coat of arms for their shirts.
The background of the shield is topographical, showing the representations of the rivers Humber, Trent and Ancholme in a green countryside pattern, with the Roman Ermine Street running north through the borough. Overlying this pattern are the gold crossed keys of St.Peter, patron saint of Barton-upon-Humber, although quite frankly it is highly unlikely he ever actually visited the place.
The bridge is the Brigg Bridge, set against a field of black on a chief, taken from the arms of the Augustinian or Black Canons, who had a foundation at Thornton Curtis. The crest is that of the former Glanford Brigg Rural District Council, necessarily different by the addition of a gold mural or walled crown, a familar symbol of local government and here reminiscent of Gilbert de Gaunt’s castle at Barton-Upon-Humber. The flames allude to the steel industry and the Conoco and Lindsey oil refineries, the red shorthorn bull’s head to the farming and agricultural industry. The three links were the device of the Lincolnshire Sugar Company and so refer to the sugar beet industry. They also refer to the linking of the three former authorities of Glanford, Brigg and Barton-Upon-Humber. Their colour has been changed to gold as an augury of future prosperity. The motto Always Ready is a translation of the Nelthorpe Family motto ‘Tout Jours Prest’
This crest was used until the early 1990’s, when the council pulled out of their sponsorship. This inspired Scunthorpe United, tout jours prest, to introduce a competition for a new crest design. The one chosen was from a local student of graphic design and shows a firm fist holding a iron girder with the word ‘Iron’ on it, again illustrating unity and strength. This simple but strong and effective emblem is in claret and blue, reflecting the present club colours.
Speaking of Iron, ever since the club entered the league their nickname has been ‘The Iron’, a metal which has long played a role in the team’s nomenclature. Before 1950s Scunthorpe United were known as the Knuts. The origin is uncertain but it is generally accepted as being when they won one of the local charity cups. The vicar of Frodingham, the Rev Cryspant Rust said “that indeed Scunthorpe and Lindsey United were a tough (k)nut to beat”. It stuck from 1910ish to about 1950.