As one who sees the Carling Cup as little more than a mere distraction for clubs like Manchester United, I have to confess that there are also some worthwhile attractions in the much derided competition. Take United’s meeting with Scunthorpe as an example. A combined existence of nearly 220 years has thus far failed to ever match the two Uniteds together so a little bit of history will be made at Glenford Park on Wednesday night. But there will be far more than a spot in the fourth round at stake for a special Scunthorpe lad.
Five year old Dylan Storey will lead out the Irons in front of a capacity 9,000 attendance on a night which could help change his life. Young Dylan has Cerebral Palsy and the Scunthorpe players are hoping to score on and off the pitch by helping to raise £50,000 for the club mascot.
The Irons are aiming to pay for an operation which could enable him to walk for the first time in his young life. The much needed funds will enable Dylan to be sent to America where he will receive pioneering surgery unavailable on the NHS. “Dylan is a cracking young boy – this will be a massive night for him and the club” says defender Michael Raynes. “We need to raise over £50,000 to help him and we are all very confident, with the aid of our supporters, that we will reach our target.”
Dylan and his family have received a further boost on the night after a local estate agent announced it would auction off its executive box for the big game and donate the proceeds to the campaign. Dylan’s mum Fi said “We can’t wait for the day, it’s going to be a real treat for him and along with the auction it’s going to be a really good day for the campaign. It’s yet another example of how people have been unbelievably generous in coming forward to help Dylan.”
The lads’ grandma Liz Storey added “It’s going to be such a special day for Dylan and it’s wonderful that so many people are coming forward to help him. We’re so grateful to Lawrence James for what they’re doing with the executive box and obviously it’s such a big event. We’re really excited about how it could help the campaign” she continued “and the fact that Dylan will be a mascot is going to be a real treat for him. He’s loved coming to Glenford Park in the past and not many kids can say they’ve stood in the tunnel with the Manchester United team.” Not only will the clash give the Bottesford youngster a night to remember, it should bring his campaign to a larger audience and help raise more money.
The club and the Storeys are pleading with supporters that they donate on the evening in buckets around the ground and wrist bands will be on sale to help raise as much money as possible. Dylan has received support from paralympians as well as generous Iron fans making donations through the club in their pre season friendly against Huddersfield.
All indications are that Manchester United are taking the challenge of Scunthorpe seriously. They have had scouts at every game since the third round draw was made and on Saturday Sir Alex Ferguson’s right hand man Mick Phelan was at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to run the rule over the Irons personally.
Scunthorpe caretaker manager Ian Baraclough firmly believes that the Carling Cup holders should not underestimate his side “We have had big teams here in the last year. We turned over Newcastle 2-1 and they are now in the same division as United. We have had other big teams here who could not cope with our work rate. United will take us lightly at their peril” he warned.
Is the Carling Cup only a distraction for Manchester United?