Scannell ponders future with Cliftonville
Amid the media frenzy surrounding Cliftonville’s teenage striker Rory Donnelly, it went almost unnoticed that Chris Scannell’s goal in the 3-1 midweek Premiership defeat of Donegal Celtic was his 100th in the league.
He sought no fanfare when his headed goal marked a momentous achievement in a career dedicated to his beloved Reds, pointing out that he was “totally unaware” the milestone was approaching until days beforehand.
The 34-year-old, considered one of Cliftonville’s greatest servants, is now just 22 goals short of matching the remarkable 172 career strikes recorded by club legend Dr Kevin McGarry, who famously went on to become a team coach and President of the club.
Scannell, signed by former Reds manager Marty Quinn in 1999, said: “It’s nice to have made a little bit of history. I was just happy to get a goal at Celtic Park because I had had a few attempts before it came and it practically killed the game off in our favour.
“There was no fuss made about it at the time; in fact it didn’t register until someone said to me after that game that it was my 100th league goal.”
The Belfast dentist, who has already scored 14 goals (12 in the league) this season, will not put himself under pressure to reach McGarry’s historic haul – simply because he does not know if he will be around after this season.
The 2008/09 Player of the Season added: “I am at that stage when my first steps on a Sunday morning are filled with pain and I now need a rub down before training and another after.
“Time, in terms of playing at this level, is running it for me. I am out of contract at the end of the season and to be honest, I don’t know where I will be when next season starts.
“I will discuss it with the club but if it happens that I am not offered a new contract, I certainly don’t think I would put myself through similar pain for any other club. At the same time, I am just six months married and starting my own dental practice. So much of my time is taken up by business and football, I get to see my wife for a few hours on a Friday evening. My brother, Ronan (the Cliftonville defender) has four children and I don’t know how he copes with his commitment to work, family and football.
“I wouldn’t want to be hanging around Solitude because I am part of the furniture or be handed a new contract for the same reason or out of sympathy. If I don’t think I can go on next season I will make the call; I don’t want to be the old guy preventing other young players from getting their opportunity.
“Put it like this, in an ideal world I will be playing for Cliftonville next season, but I certainly will not be doing what Glenn Ferguson and Marty Tabb did and play on until I am 40. We are all different and I know I could not go on that long.”
Victory over Crusaders in the big north-Belfast derby on Boxing Day (2.00pm) will maintain Cliftonville’s pressure on Portadown and Linfield as the title tussle intensifies — though Scannell believes defending champions Linfield will ultimately be the team to beat.
“They are five points clear of us and Portadown and they don’t usually give away such an advantage,” he said.