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OPINION: Return of the ‘Prodigal Son’

Kevin van Veen celebrating his goal against MK Dons

Iron fan Mark Chapman pens a column on the return of Scunthorpe legend, Kevin van Veen.

So, he’s back! Not many things motivate me to put pen to paper these days, mainly because I’m a bit of a lazy git, but hearing our ‘Prodigal Son’ has done an about-turn halfway down the M1 and headed back North, I couldn’t leave this one alone.

Once the news ‘broke’ of this potential transfer, Twitterland went into meltdown. More than I could have imagined being honest. I know Big Kev was a bit of a folk hero to some, but to many others he was lazy – and I’ll admit I was leaning more towards the latter than the former. 

I can’t think of any player who has divided opinion amongst Iron fans as much as Kev has. When he left, social media almost became a battleground, it was crazy. And now bizarrely many of the vitriol spouting half-wits have resurfaced to say ‘I told you so’ and reopening cans of worms that really don’t need reopening. 

Everyone has opinions, sure, let them have them, but there’s no need to get personal. He’s OUR player once again, a player we need to support and I’m sure everyone on both sides of that fence will do just that until some water has passed and they’re able to pass judgement once again. 

To be honest I’m pretty sure I’m not on any of Kev’s Christmas Card lists following an article I wrote last season, although it was taken the wrong way by the big man himself and also naughtily worded in a headline by Mr Bru – yes, you want to smile you click-baiting so and so! 

Going back to that said article, it was following a bit of a patchy spell in which Kev had started to play, in my words “Like a Sunday League player” – OK perhaps a bit harsh, emotions were running high straight after a game, and this was jumped on spectacularly by our number 10, omitting to body swerve the preceding phrase where he had been ‘looking like a world beater’. 

To me, it summed Kev up. He started last season like a bloody train, everything he hit turned to gold and alongside Hops he was beginning to form a promising partnership with Paddy out injured. But once Paddy returned, for some reason Kev’s formed dropped alarmingly and with his form also appeared to go his work rate. 

Many fans can accept a loss of form, but when the work rate goes, to some it’s hard to take. Paddy even made a ghost remark following a poor performance, saying ‘some people just don’t want to put the effort in’ and it was blatantly obvious who he was talking about. 

This is what divided opinion between so many. An absolute colossus of a player on his day, but when the chips were down, did he want to know?

Some fans were happy to accept this, many citing that that’s what we’re going to get with him, fair enough, but to many others, they weren’t buying it, and by the sounds of it still don’t. But come on, the lad is back, it’s a clean slate (to some) and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a different animal this time around. 


This season has been a joke, to be honest. Sure, the injuries have been unreal, but we’ve still seen players donning the shirt which I’ll be honest I’d struggle to pick for my Sunday League side. Some just not good enough, others with a pathetic excuse for an attitude for so-called professional footballers. 

We’ve been spoiled over the years with some absolute gems gracing the Glanford Park turf, this season has been a sickening low but thankfully things are looking like being addressed. 

Big Kev is a 1000% improvement on what we’ve seen so far this season, never thought I’d say that as to be honest towards the end of his last spell. I, along with many others, was pretty much sick of the sight of him – despite his then-recent form in front of goal which did appear to coincide with the January Transfer Window… I was also reliably informed from someone close to him that he wanted to play for Hasselbaiink… 

Yes, I’d had enough, but people do say that absence can make the heart grow fonder, and on this occasion, I honestly have to say that it has. You could have thrown Kev into any of the games we’ve played this season and he’d have done better. Sure he’d have had a few stinkers, but he’d probably be sat in double figures by now and we probably wouldn’t be in the bottom four. 

Whilst we have struggled, Kev, albeit in the division below, had been doing well for Northampton. Mild depression regularly kicked in watching the highlights show on a Saturday night of another calamitous Scunny performance, then witnessing Kev bending 30-yard efforts into the top corner for the Cobblers. 

He’s as close to an enigma you’re going to see, he’s going to frustrate the hell out of you, but he’s also capable of mercurial-like genius. Following the complete dross we’ve witnessed for the best part of this season, it’s clear that Kev has more talent in his right toe-nail than some of them have in their entire bodies. 

January is here, it’s crawled along at a snail’s pace, but already the sounds being made from up above are promising. If Stuart can bring in the players needed to force his stamp on the team, then Kev could very easily find himself as the jewel in a newly formed crown. He’s a talent that we still need to nurture, but also a talent who probably knows himself that he needs to produce consistently to avoid having the label of a basement journeyman bestowed upon him. 

I remember when the rumour mill was rife upon him signing for us back in the Summer of 2015. I was actually driving in my car close to Humberside Airport when it was reported that he was flying in, I was even looking up in the sky in the hope of seeing his plane – such was the excitement around his impending arrival. 

He was no Eredivisie superstar, no-one had even heard of him, but YouTube painted a very pretty picture of his time in the Dutch Second Division – and he had a cool name. OK, the excitement levels within me aren’t quite at the plateau of back then, although they certainly are within some – Beatlemania would struggle to come close, but given what’s gone on since August I can’t help but afford myself a tiny wry smile. 

Over to you now Kev, let’s have it! 


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Written by Will Montag

Will Montag is an English Literature graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University. He is an avid reader of fiction, and a lifelong Iron fan. Will enjoys various outdoor pursuits in his spare time.

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