The youth of Croydon got enough bad press this week, so the town definitely could have done without another young lad hitting the headlines for terrorising innocent defenders. Sean Scannell obviously thought otherwise.
There’s a new gem at Selhurst Park. And this one’s an emerald. Sean Scannell, the boy who still walks to games because he doesn’t have a driving licence (ahem), is the man upon which many a Crystal Palace supporter are putting their hopes on for the forthcoming season.
Big Scanz first burst on the scene an entire four years ago, as a fresh-faced 17 year old. In the 07/08 season where Crystal Palace gave debuts to 8 (eight) fledgling youngsters from the academy, he may well been seen as just another one off the conveyor belt of talent, were it not for his home debut. 90 minutes gone and with the scores locked at 1-1, young Sean expertly lobbed Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper from the edge of the box, composure and expertise personified.
Not many youngsters have scored for Palace on their home debuts, and even less do so in the last minute. Another Palace youth, this time way back in 1998, scored in the last minute of his home debut against-yep, you guessed it-Sheffield Wednesday. Clinton O’Morrison went on to become the club’s 5th highest goalscorer ever with 113 goals and the Camberwell Irishman also won 36 caps for his grandmother’s twice removed cousin’s wife’s postman’s neighbour’s nephew’s country, the Republic of Ireland. With that South London accent and dark complexion, you could have been mistaken for thinking that there wasn’t any green blood in him at all.
Sheamus Scannell also has a similar Irish ‘heritage’ to Clinton. He hasn’t quite got the 100+ goals, nor the 36 caps that ol’ Clint got, but he definitely has the potential to go further than Clinton in the game. It is true, he has not quite pushed on as much as he would have liked since his debut. However I feel that a fair amount of blame can lay at his previous managers’ feet- misused by Neil Warnock in a Route One team and not used at all by George Burley. Under Paul Hart, for a few months at least, he showed more promise and assisted perhaps the most important goal in Crystal Palace’s history in the relegation showdown at Hillsborough.
Now though, Dougie Freedman is at the helm and no-one knows more about being a striking success at Crystal Palace than he does. Finally, Scannell is being played in his favoured position as a centre forward, and although the season is young, he has already begun terrorising Championship defences, living up to his nickname ‘The Norwood Nightmare’. A fine lob against Peterborough on the opening weekend put us ahead, and he was the only bright spark in the whole game for us. Today, he did brilliantly when up against, in my opinion, the best centre-back in the division, Andre Bikey. Playing a pivotal role in the first goal and winning a penalty for the second with his quick feet, Sean was man of the match and received a deserved standing ovation. It would be unfair to label him the only bright spark of the day though, with the Crystal Girls performing at half-time and Neil Warnock’s QPR losing 4-0.
Sean is a local boy, who has a big affection for the club and that is recognised by the fans. He represents the surrounding area, and is a great icon for Croydon youths to look up to. Many of the kids who were on the streets of Croydon this week could do worse than to have Scannell as an idol. He is far better an example to follow than the rappers whose lyrics seem to glorify violence today. He has had his own brushes with the law, but now as a young father and family man, he has found maturity and a sense of adulthood.
Sheamus is definitely back on track to reaching his potential, and with Dougie steering him in the right direction, the sky is the limit. And who knows, like his Irish brother O’Morrison, he may even have a bar named after him at Selhurst one day…