Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Hitman Scannell simply the best

Cliftonville striker Chris Scannell held off competition from Stephen Carson and David Magowan to win the Player of the Year gong last night

Speak to anyone associated with Cliftonville Football Club and you will be left in doubt what striker Chris Scannell brings to the party.

Life without the 31-year-old at Solitude would be too horrifying to contemplate for his manager Eddie Patterson and the other players.

He will still be hurting after failing to win the biggest match of his career on Saturday, but like the proud professional he is Scannell accepted defeat with grace.

He comforted young players like Aaron Smyth who are learning fast that a football career is a rollercoaster ride.

Cliftonville’s season has certainly been a roller-coaster ride but that roller-coaster could have crashed had Scannell not been banging the goals in when the going got tough.

At one point the Reds were lying second bottom of the league after a disappointing start to the campaign when the treatment room was busy and games were played at Donegal Celtic’s ground while Solitude was receiving a makeover.

But Cliftonville’s goalscoring machine clicked into gear and he finished the season with an astonishing 27 goals.

Every team needs matchwinners and Scannell is the most prolific finisher in the league.

He scored in the 2-1 victory over Linfield in the County Antrim Shield final in November and then netted a brace against the Blues in the semi-finals of the Irish Cup.

There were few raised eyebrows across the country when it emerged that Scannell had scooped the Ulster Player of the Year Award, sponsored by the Castlereagh Glentoran Supporters’ Club.

And the striker was rewarded with rapturous applause last night when he was crowned Player of the Year by the Harp Northern Ireland Football Writers.

It was a fitting reward for a player who is one of the local game’s great goalscorers.

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