27 Aug 2013
In - Football

To be a great captain, a player doesn't have to be a household name or perform at the highest level. Some captains achieve greatness by leading by example and bringing the best out of others, as footballer-turned-journalist Adrian Clarke argues in his plea for Scunthorpe United's Archie Gibson to be named Men United skipper…

1. Small man, big personality
At 5ft 8in and 10st, the waspish midfielder wasn't a formidable physical presence but it never stood in his way. This was a player who'd never stop running for his team. Gibson would crunch into tackles on the edge of his box one moment, and produce a game-changing pass at the other end just moments later. Defending and attacking with equal levels of enthusiasm, Gibson's famed work-rate would always set the tone for the rest of the Scunthorpe side to follow. It was little wonder they enjoyed consistent success.

2. Going above and beyond
Modern-day players don't know they're born. Back in the early 60s, the world was in the midst of the Cold War, and this led to unease over public safety in some areas of Britain. Seizing the initiative, Gibson volunteered to be part of Scunthorpe's Civil Defence Division in 1962. His plan was to train the Iron squad into a rescue team, should they be needed in an emergency. He'd also be on permanent standby just in case a local disaster occurred. How's that for dedication? No wonder he's such a popular figure in the north Lincolnshire town.

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3. Making others look good
Extracting the best from those around you is a key quality all great captains possess, and Gibson's record was impressive. As a regular in the Leeds midfield in the late 1950s, the Scot's endeavour rubbed off on his team-mates - none more so than a 17-year-old midfielder called Billy Bremner. Shown the ropes by Gibson, he'd go on to become the club's greatest skipper. The legendary John Charles also praised Gibson, claiming he deserved international recognition for his efforts. Later, while at Scunthorpe, striker Barrie Thomas also bore the fruits of Gibson's labour, scoring 31 goals in 24 games in 1961-62 before earning himself a transfer to Newcastle.

4. Mr Reliable
Captains have to be made of strong stuff - it's par for the course. Luckily Gibson had a strong constitution, shrugging off knocks and bruises every week to ensure he was a continual presence in the heart of the Irons midfield. Despite being the most tenacious of competitors, during his three and a half seasons at the Old Show Ground (all as captain) he missed just 10 matches through illness or injury. To captain Men United you need someone you can rely upon, and Archie's the man.

5. Success
Scunthorpe came within a whisker of making it to the old First Division for the first time in their history under Gibson's captaincy. They were leading the table in 1961-62 having thrashed Leeds, Charlton, Southampton and Plymouth, but the big-money sale of top scorer Barrie Thomas hurt them in the final few months and they agonisingly finished five points short of promotion. The captain and his players were cruelly denied their place in history, but that side has never ever been forgotten by the fans. 

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