‘They’re like nothing else’ – Anthony Scully on Imps fans, EFL Trophy and more

(Courtesy Graham Burrell)

I had the pleasure of catching up with Anthony Scully earlier this week, preparing for the programme article ahead of this weekend’s fixture with Northampton.

You can order the programme here, and find the interview where he discusses his move to Lincoln, his international career and his favourite moment so far in a Lincoln shirt. Luckily for me, he is a chatty, outgoing personality who could have filled three times the space in the programme with little effort.

I’ve written Anthony extensively before on the site, mentioning how I feel he is something of a secret weapon, and discovering more about his previous experience only deepens my belief he is a gem of a player we will do well to retain. Not only that, he explains how he started out playing for the only town outside Lincolnshire I ever lived in, Cambourne.

Netting v Posh – Credit Graham Burrell

“I was playing for Cambourne and Histon as a youth, and I’d been playing well for Histon,” said the 22-year-old. “A scout from West Ham came and watched me, he must have watched me for a few weeks and he offered me a trial.

“After a couple more weeks, they liked what they saw and I signed. I went there when I was 12, training twice a week down there for a while. My parents would drive me there training and at the weekends for matches. When I became a scholar, I moved down there permanently.”

The West Ham academy is well-known for producing technically competent players, something we see every time the Ireland Under-21 international gets on the ball.

“One attraction of the West Ham academy was the reputation of the players they had brought through. When I was there, the big thing I noticed was the professionalism. Right from going there at 12, you are taught the right things, and some of the sessions, even at that age, are purely technical.

“As you start to get older, they bring tactics into in, learn how to win games and approach games. They encouraged me to play in different positions too, whilst I was there, I played as an eight, a ten, even as a winger and they helped me with developing in those different roles.”

Scully in action in the EFL Trophy for City – Credit Graham Burrell

The attacker’s first experience of senior football came in the EFL Trophy, a much-maligned competition which has been the subject of boycotts and much criticism. Looking at it from the other side of the fence, it seems it has immense value for the younger player who may well end up filtering down the leagues to play for the likes of Lincoln City.

“When you’re in an academy, the Papa John’s Trophy games are the biggest of the season because you play against the league opposition. It’s great to go out and test yourself against league sides although it is a bit different as there aren’t three points on the line. For first teams, you might get some rotation, but in an academy, they are the games you can test yourself and find out where you are at. It is the first taste of first-team football.”

One game Anthony was involved in was an EFL Trophy clash away at Newport County at the beginning of last season. Despite an early goal for our forward, the league opposition swiftly took control.

“It was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been involved in. We got off to a good start, I scored within the first few minutes, but they used all their senior experience after that. We had a couple of young defenders and they just rifled the ball up to the big strikers to win headers. After that, it was goal one, two, three and four. We were 4-1 down at half time.”

It seemed as though the young players were on course for a thrashing, but a remarkable comeback saw Anthony bag an 88th-minute winner.

“After the first half, the manager got into us at the time, looking for a reaction. I think he got it as we won 5-4! They did use their experience in that first half, they gave us a challenge we weren’t used to, hitting those long balls, so we learned from that.”

Tony Scully battles Peter Gain at the Bank in August 2004 – Credit Lincoln City FC

Not long after that, Anthony signed for the Imps, and began creating the sort of memories that fans truly appreciate. His father, Tony, once bagged a brace for Notts County at Sincil Bank, leading to us losing 2-1, but now Scully Junior is making up for that, even if there is something missing this season.

“That’s what really stands out for me this season, not having the fans in. It means we’ve lost something this season because we haven’t had them there for the exciting moments to celebrate with them. From what I’ve experienced, Lincoln fans are just brilliant and I’m not just saying that.

“They’re like nothing else, away at Accrington I scored my first goal for the club in front of maybe 700 fans and they were brilliant even then. Hopefully, we get the fans back in soon, and if I can keep scoring goals in front of them, that’ll be even better.”