Sean Scannell starts and ends this interview by making the same point. “I just loved Palace when I was a kid,” he says, before later reiterating: “I love Palace and I still do to this day.”
Scannell is a boy from Ashburton, near Addiscombe, who would walk the mile from home to Selhurst Park alongside fellow fans and later, having represented Palace 141 times, sit amongst them to watch his team compete in the Premier League.
He would earn international call-ups to play youth football across the world but “end up looking forward to… going back to my club.”
As a youngster, Scannell dreamed of wearing red and blue while two of England’s biggest clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, offered him alternative development pathways. Years later, as a teenager, his commitment to Palace remained unfaltering as interest from other giants – Manchester United, City and Everton among them – gathered pace.
He is the epitome of his boyhood club’s ethos: South London and Proud.
For a boy enamoured by football – competing not only at Arsenal and Chelsea trials, but with Addiscombe Corinthians, Ashburton school and Brixton’s Afewee Academy, too – representing the local side was an obvious source of pride, and how Palace made it unique is clear.
“When I ended up playing for Palace as a kid at 11 or 12, it was just a dream come true,” Scannell says.
“A scout called Derek Millen [father of Keith] used to pick me up from my house, take me to training and drop me back – because we were young and trained at night. Right at the back behind the hedges [at the Copers Cope Training Ground] was a big sand Astroturf and he’d take me there and drop me home twice a week.”