Assistant manager previews Saturday's trip...With the Iron making the trip to Walsall on Saturday, Iron assistant manager Ned Kelly recounts his past with the club that pulled him out of non-league, and into a career in professional football.
Kelly said: “I was working for Cadbury before I got my contract at Walsall, so I’m grateful they got me out of the chocolate factory!
"I had two managers in Alan Buckley, who people from this area know very well. He was very successful, a really good coach and a top bloke, and another chap called Tommy Coakley.
"They were instrumental in setting me off and teaching me the game because I came out of non-league and I didn’t know football. I knew how to score but I didn’t know the positions, the specifics or how to play really, I was very, very raw so I’m grateful for their education.”
Kelly scored 63 league goals in 147 in his first years at the club, before going on to play for West Ham United, Newcastle United, Leicester City and Tranmere Rovers (amongst others), while manager Mark Robins also spent a season at the Bescot Stadium, making 40 league appearances, and Kelly said that the pair are both looking forward to returning to their old stomping ground.
Kelly: “I spent just over three seasons there, and we ended up finishing on a promotion which was absolutely brilliant.
"We are both looking forward to it, the gaffer played there as well, so we are both going back. I’m close friends with both Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly, manager and assistant, and in actual fact Richard is my oldest friend in football because he was the first person I met when I signed in 1983.
"It’s a club I hold fondly in my heart because they gave me the opportunity to become a player.”
Kelly watched the Saddlers beat League One rivals Preston 2-0 at Deepdale on Wednesday in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and while he was pleased to see his old side take one step towards Wembley, his only focus is to take three points from his old club on Saturday.
Kelly: “I was delighted last night when they won 2-0 (against Preston in the JPT).
"However Saturday is an entirely different animal. We are looking to go and get a really good result, and all my friendships and relationships will be put on hold for 95-96 minutes.”
See much more from Ned Kelly on The Iron Player.