Former Glenavon and Newry Town defender Tony Scappaticci was popular with the fans and respected by his team-mates
POPULAR with the fans and respected by his team-mates during spells at Glenavon, Newry Town, Bangor and Banbridge Town, Tony Scappaticci passed away yesterday.
The teak-tough defender, a father of three, was found dead in his native Banbridge aged 48.
His former clubs were quick to pay tribute to their former player. Scappaticci was an Irish Cup winner with Glenavon back in 1992 and the Lurgan Blues’ Twitter account posted yesterday: “It’s with great sadness that the club has learned of the passing of former player Tony ‘Scap’ Scappaticci.”
Newry City’s posted: “It is with the greatest sympathy and deepest sadness that we report to you the passing of former Newry Town captain Tony Scappaticci. RIP.”
Scappaticci had trials with Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster before signing with Glenavon and making his debut in the 1988/89 season. After nine years at Mourneview Park he moved on Newry Town where he was named club captain and ushered in a period of unprecedented success for the club.
Kevin Lyons is currently acting secretary of the club - now Newry City - but during Scappaticci’s time at the Showgrounds he describes himself as “ a very keen supporter”.
“Before he came things were at a fairly low ebb,” recalled Lyons.
“Not long after he was signed, Joe Rice appeared on the scene and then Trevor Anderson and thereafter followed Newry’s most successful period and Scap was part of that.”
After winning the First Division in the 1997–98 season, Newry finished fourth in the Premier Division and qualified for the Intertoto Cup – the club’s first taste of European competition.
They were drawn against Croatia’s Hrvatski Dragovoljac and won 2-1 on aggregate (a 1-0 loss away followed by a 2-0 win at home) to book a second round clash with Bundesliga side MSV Duisburg.
Again Newry were drawn away in the first leg and returned home with the tie still up for grabs after a respectable 2–0 loss against the German full-timers. A 1–0 win at home was not enough to force extra time but the side had exceeded expectations in the tournament.
“It was an exciting period for the club,” says Lyons.
“Tony was there then and he was a lively character who was popular with players and supporters. After that he moved on and the last time he was down in Newry Showgrounds was two years ago when he organised a match between a Newry City Select and an Irish League Select in aid of an addiction charity called Davina’s Ark.”
After his time at Newry, Scappaticci moved on to his native Banbridge Town where he converted to central defence before retiring from football in 2000.
“He was a 100 per center,” said Lyons.
“He wasn’t the tallest but he was very good in the air, not too much got past him, and he could hold his own against any attacker, he was fearless. It’s a sad day.”
Players and fans of Newry City and Armagh City will pause for a minute’s in remembrance of Tony Scappaticci before tonight’s promotion play-off at the Showgrounds.