NCM Report Cards: #11 Tony Scully

Last updated : 05 July 2005 By Rob Davies
Name: Tony Scully
Age: 29
Position: Winger
Appearences 04/05: 24 (14)

Season Highlight: Tearing Middlesborough to shreds in the FA Cup Third Round tie at Meadow Lane.

Season Lowlight: Doing absolutely nothing in the following game at Southend. It summed up his season.

Signed in February 2004 by Gary Mills, Tony Scully hoped thirteen would prove to be his lucky number. Yes, in just over 11 years as a professional, Scully had chalked up an incredible twelve clubs, prior to his initial short-term move to Meadow Lane.

The Irishman, as one fan observed upon his signing, had more clubs than Tiger Woods.

And, while on a short-term deal at Meadow Lane, we saw just why so many clubs were willing to take a chance on the winger. Talented, skillful and two-footed, Scully showed the attributes that once persuaded the stack of clubs - including Man City and QPR - to take a chance on him.

Unfortunately, after being rewarded with a two-year deal in the summer by Mills, Scully showed the attributes this season that persuaded a stack of clubs - including Man City and QPR - to swiftly get rid of him.

If you were looking for a reason as to why last season went so wrong, you'd need look no further than Scully. Stacks of ability, brilliant on his day, but, 90% of the time, just couldn't be arsed.

In just a season, he's taken himself from the very top of the class to the very bottom. Naughty, naughty, Mr Scully.

But it all started so promisingly for the 29-year-old.

Whilst the campaign struggled to get off the ground for Mills' side, Scully remained at the top of the pile, carrying over his form from last season. As David Brent would say, 'he was basically just a chilled-out entertainer'.

Despite suffering an ankle injury that ruled him out for most of pre-season and the season's opener against Chester, the Irishman excelled in his first taste of action - half an hour as a substitute at Kidderminster, even earning the man of the match accolade for just 30 minutes' work.

The good form continued. The winger proved instrumental in revitalising the optimism lost amidst a nightmare start by netting twice in the club's first league win of the season, a 2-1 victory at Lincoln. The second, a blistering left-footed drive into the top corner, was a joy to behold.

Even when the team weren't playing well, Scully was providing a thread. In home defeats against Oxford and Southend, he was prominent - his direct running causing huge problems. In fact, such was the former Premiership man's talent, the Magpies were becoming somewhat over-reliant on him to produce the piece of magic, the spark, designed to get them back into a game.

But, all of sudden, it stopped. Scully first sank to the level of performance his team-mates were producing, before slipping off the radar altogether.

Quite simply, he had peaked to early. There was nothing left to come.

The transformation was incredible. A player who has all the ability to be the best player at this level and beyond often looked decidely ordinary. The cheers when he would emerge from the bench the season before and at the beginning of the campaign had to turn to groans, with fans' getting tired of his tendancy to run down blind alleys.

More and more, worrying facts were beginning to emerge that had been swept under the carpet during his early form. Once voted Dagenham & Redbridge's worst ever player, never once had a contract renewed by one of his numerous clubs.

There'd be glimpses of ability, but more often then not they'd be outshone by sheer laziness. The dinking, darting runs that had proved so effective before had seemingly vanished out of sight.

The FA Cup, though, did provide some light in a miserable campaign. Delivering a peach of a cross (he is still, without doubt, the best crosser of the ball at the club) for Gavin Gordon to head home in the First Round victory over Woking, he repeated the feat in the televised Second Round win over Swindon Town.

It was in the Third Round tie at home to Middlesborough that he really shone, though.

Only in the starting Xl due to injuries (his days as an automatic starter were long gone by this stage), Scully excelled against the Premiership big boys, with an outstanding display being capped by the Irishman netting County's goal in the 2-1 defeat.

In many ways though, the fantastic display alienated him from the Meadow Lane faithful even more. It just highlighted the fact that he couldn't be bothered to produce it week-in week-out against opposition that he should run rings around with his eyes closed.

The fact that, post-August, his truly excellent performances, as a starter at least, came in a Televised match and against Premiership opposition gave the cynics a field-day, with Scully's level of street cred with the Meadow Lane crowd sinking to Glynn Hurst proportions.

The winger, usually during one of his many late cameo roles, would occasionaly produce a moment of brilliance that would make it even more frustrating that Paul Bolland was being selected on the wing over him.

Not that Bolland - even if it was slightly by default - wasn't deserving of this place. By this point Scully's team-mate Ian Richardson was the boss and his values of 'workers' over 'ability' meant both Scully and fellow winger Chris Palmer had to spend much of Richardson's reign on the sidelines.

In fact, Scully's 'spell on the sidelines' ended up becoming a little more than that. The talented winger who looked set to take League Two by storm at the start of the season had become little more than a perrenial substitute.

Whilst the improving Notts County programme affectionately named him 'the Entertainer', his entertainment days appeared to be fading. Even the jinking, dazzling runs were few and far between when the Irishman would fly off the bench.

A rare start on the final day of the season at Cambridge provided a glimmer of hope for the coming season, with glimpses of the old Scully in evidence. However, it's undisputable that Scully has a long way to go to redeem himself after such a terrible year.

With just one-year left on his deal, Scully needs to use this season to prove that he does have the desire to suceed. If he doesn't, it's unlikely that there'll be another Gary Mills to rescue him from non-league again.

Season Rating (out of 10): 3

For the continuation of the NCM Report Cards, check back to NCM in the next few days.