Tributes to ‘cracking player’ Tony Scappaticci

Tony Scappaticcis aerial ability has been compared to that of former NI and Glenavon legend Wilbur Cush
Tony Scappaticcis aerial ability has been compared to that of former NI and Glenavon legend Wilbur Cush

Tributes have been paid to one of the Irish League’s toughest defenders Tony Scappaticci, who died on Monday.

The 48-year-old father-of-three, who starred for Glenavon and Newry City, died at his home in Banbridge.

‘Scappi’ was brought to Glenavon in 1989 by Terry Nicholson, who recalled: “It wasn’t a signing that came easy. His reputation wasn’t the best.

“When I signed him I said, ‘You don’t let me down on a training night or a match day and I don’t care what you do the rest of it’.

“In the time I had him he never let me down once. I can’t ever recall having to pull him about having a bad match.

“He was a cracking player and a good lad to have about the place.”

The 73-year-old, who still plays in goals for the Northern Ireland Veterans, commented: “In the air Scappi was as close to Wilbur Cush as I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t that tall but he could outjump most people in the Irish League.”

Former Glenavon captain Duncan Lowry said he always felt safe beside Scappi, both on and off the pitch.

Mr Lowry, who now lives in New Zealand, said: “I never saw him beaten in the air. It was quite remarkable as he was only five foot six inches.

“He was a tough one, on and off the pitch. He was one of the players you liked to have beside you if trouble broke out at Mourneview Park or the Coach Inn in Banbridge. He was a tough little nut.”

Scappi was an extremely popular character during his time at Glenavon, particularly with Violet Thompson, a well-known figure at the club who followed Glenavon home and away for many decades until she passed away in 2015.

“Violet loved him,” said Mr Lowry. “He made a point of kissing her before every game.”

Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer said Mr Scappaticci had been “suffering ill heath”.

He added: “He was a popular character. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The left back was a part of Glenavon’s Irish Cup winning team in 1992 and the memorable 6-1 victory over Linfield in the replayed Budweiser Cup final – only his second game for the club.

Prior to signing for Glenavon in the 1988/89 season, he had trials with Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster.

After nine years at the Lurgan Blues he moved on to Newry Town where he went on to captain the club.

Following a spell with Bangor he finished his career with his hometown club Banbridge Town.

Banbridge councillor Glenn Barr said Mr Scappaticci came from a well-known family in the town who boasted a number of talented footballers in their ranks as well as running a popular chippy – The Florentine.