One of the more unassuming characters in the FC Isle of Man squad is defender Chris Cannell. We stress that we use the word ‘unassuming’ to describe his personality off the pitch. On the field he is very much the opposite.
Cannell is a power house defender, strong in the tackle, brave in the air and oh.. he can play a bit too, as proved by his magnificent turn and shot when scoring against Wythenshawe recently.
Chris’s career has not been a straight forward one. As a youngster, he was also an elite Island Badminton player as well as an Island footballer and in his late teens he had a difficult choice to make. In which sport to continue. We’re glad he made the right one.
However, despite being the kingpin of our Island’s famous U18 Dream Team that reached the FA Youth Cup Semi Finals in 2009, and making his senior Island debut at 16, Chris’ football career has not been straight forward. While he was a gold medal winner with the national team at the 2017 Island Games, injuries have largely kept him from more Island team successes that his talent and determination deserved.
Over the last two seasons Cannell has had to demonstrate that determination and resilience in spades, as more injury woes curtailed his pre-season preparations, and he was unable to make his Ravens debut until week six at Abbey Hey. A further injury picked up just two weeks later at Stockport Town in mid-September put Chris out of action again and he missed the next six matches. Recently however, he has looked fit, very assured and back to his best, especially since the team reverted to a back four at the turn of the year.
Joe Reid and Steve Burns sat down with Chris to discuss his Ravens experiences and especially how he’s coped with those injuries.
FCIOM: In many ways it’s been a stop start season for you. Picking up injuries in pre-season and then again at Stockport in September. You’ve had to show remarkable determination and patience, how have you managed to cope with that part of the game?
Chris Cannell: Coming back from a big injury can be daunting and to be honest you just have to be patient. You can’t rush back too early and you have to take things slowly and even go day by day if you need to. I had a really bad knee injury a few seasons ago and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever play again, but once the doctors gave me some hope, that if I was patient and took my time that I would get back to playing again. This season it was important to stay involved with the team while I was injured. I would always make sure that I’d go to watch training and games just to make sure that I felt like I was part of the club.
It’s definitely frustrating being injured, but as I’ve got older, I’ve come to realise that it’s just part and parcel of the game and the trick is how you deal with it. Don’t feel sorry for yourself just work hard, do your re-hab’ and give yourself a chance.
FCIOM: Injuries have arguably stopped you having a lot more success at international level. Has missing out on some of those big tournaments spurred you on to take your chance at FC Isle of Man and be a success here?
CC: Most definitely. I’ve missed out on a lot of big games and tournaments over the last ten years or so, and when FC Isle of Man became a realistic possibility, I just wanted to get back playing and be part of that journey.
I for one have come to realise that you cannot guarantee your fitness all of the time, so this (FC Isle of Man) has given me real motivation to work hard and to make sure that when I get the opportunity I can deliver and play my part.
FCIOM: How have you found your FC Isle of Man experience and how would you sum up the team’s season so far?
CC: I think it’s been good. At the start of the season, it felt like we were going into the unknown as we didn’t know what the standard would be like. It was tough at first as we didn’t have much of a preseason and none of us had played many games, so it took us a while to get going. For me the turning point was Stockport Town away, that’s when things felt like they were clicking into place and that we were a proper squad, even though I got hurt again. But we showed great determination that day to come from behind twice and win the game.
FCIOM: As a player do you feel your game has improved playing in this league?
CC: Yes, I do. It helps that I get to train and play with a great group of talented players.
Training is tough as you have to be on it all the time, because if you’re not you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. It’s been really good because playing on the island (in local league) against the same teams and players season after season you get used to everything, but this season I’ve been playing against players I’ve never played against before, so it’s forced me to be on my game each week as you don’t know what’s coming.
FCIOM: We’re now getting towards the sharp end of the season, with just 12 games to go and we’re right in the mix for the playoffs. What does the team need to do to ensure we finish in those play off places.?
CC: I think it’s important to not get too ahead of ourselves, we need to follow the old cliché and take it one game at a time. The staff will keep us grounded and honest, making sure we don’t switch off or get complacent. It’s a long season so little blips are bound to happen here and there, but we feel like we’ve just come out of one of those so hopefully we can keep the momentum going now. We’re all very confident and we’ve all shown we can come through some bumps in the road and bounce back.