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Where are they now: Tony Scully

16 May 2013

Arguably, some the greatest perks of being a footballer are the working hours and the opportunity to work outside. Of course, the winter months can be hard but, for players approaching the denouement of their career, the idea of continuing to work in the great outdoors is an appealing one.

Former Football League winger Tony Scully had that in mind when he was choosing his next move after hanging his boots up in 2007.

"I start my working day early and finish early, which resembles football working hours," the 36-year-old, who is now a postman, explained. "I'm able to stay fit while walking around, too, which is good.

"As a footballer you train in all weathers so I don't mind going out in winter. The wind can be hard work and when it rains you have to protect the post, and you have to mind the dogs."

The favourable hours in the Irishman's new career path also enables him to spend plenty of his spare time with his family.

And that's particularly important to Scully, as his son is attempting to follow in his footsteps and make his way into professional football.

"My boy plays at West Ham United, and my working hours allow me to watch him. I'm hoping he'll have a better career than me. He has some good attributes.

"At the time of taking the job as a postman it was supposed to be a short-term thing, but five years on I'm still doing it. I considered things like plumbing but it was catch-22; they didn't want to give you work without the experience but I couldn't get the experience without the work.

"Royal Mail invited me for an interview, which was weird because I'd never had one before as a footballer. Here I was, 32 years of age, and attending my first interview.

"I didn't hear back for a while but I then got offered the job. At the time, I was torn because I wanted to pursue plumbing, but in the end I took the job to tide me over. And I'm still going now."

During a career that took him the length and breadth of the country, Scully made his name as a pacey winger - a full-back tormentor.

It all started for him with Crystal Palace, who brought him over from Ireland in 1993 and, from there, he made appearances for 15 different clubs at various levels of English football, including every division in The Football League.

"It was just a dream to become a professional footballer and to be given that opportunity by Crystal Palace was great.

"I signed for Palace, who were in the Premier League, in the February but didn't come over until July, which gave me time to finish at school and prepare myself for the move. I couldn't wait to get started.

"However, in that time, the manager who signed me left the club and the new manager had different ideas. I went to Bournemouth to get some much-needed experience - it was better to learn in The Football League rather than play in the reserves.

"It was an eye-opener. I remember making my debut against Brentford and standing by the back post at a corner and being able to hear all the things the opposing fans were saying about me and the team."

Scully's unfortunate problems with managers continued when he moved north to his second permanent club, Manchester City, in 1997. The boss who signed him departed, meaning his stay with City was brief, and it was back down to London for a spell with Queens Park Rangers. Other issues that were out of his control also came up along the way, which affected his career path.

"City was a great club but they had about 40 pros, so it was tough getting a game. One season at QPR we needed to win our last game of the season to stay up and we faced my old club Palace. We ended up winning 6-0, but the game was a lot more nervy than the score suggests.

"It was a great day and a great experience being able to keep QPR in the division. And for me, it was nice to beat my old team.

"My spell at Cambridge coincided with the collapse of the TV deal. That summer there were a lot of players out of contract and clubs were tightening their belts, so getting a new deal was hard.

"I played at Dagenham to get myself in the shop window and then the odd game for Barnet as a favour to Martin Allen, who had a lot of injuries. When you look at my career it looks as though I played for a lot of clubs, but I only played one match for some of those."

In 2004, Scully settled down with Notts County, and it was at Meadow Lane where one of the best moments of his career took place.

Blackpool were the visitors in a Division Two match in April 2004. It was 0-0, midway through the first half, and Scully, wearing the number 29 shirt, picked up the ball on the edge of his own 18-yard line.

Out of nowhere, the winger ran the length of the pitch, bypassing every player in Tangerine, and curled the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area. County went on to win the match 4-1.

"It was funny, I was interviewed about it after the game and I didn't realise I'd run so far. I thought I'd just run from the halfway line but it later transpired that I'd run from the edge of my own area. It wasn't until I'd seen it back myself that I realised, so when I was interviewed I said I'd scored better.

"As a player my greatest asset was my pace. I was an out-and-out winger so whenever I had the ball I just wanted to run at the full-back. Defenders didn't like it, they fear speed more than anything."

After his stay at Notts County came to an end in 2006, he moved to Crawley Town, where he appeared over 50 times before having to hang up his boots due to a knee injury.

That brought to an end his 14-year career in the game, a spell in his life he looks back on fondly.

"If it wasn't for my knee I'd probably still be playing non-league football today," Scully said ruefully.

"When I look back my career I can't pick one moment over another, I enjoyed it all. I had ups and downs but I can't be too negative about any of it. Even the disappointing experiences enabled me to learn things."

Who knows, his ability to get past defenders may have helped him hone his skills delivering mail. One thing's for sure, there won't be many quicker posties on the beat.

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