Players that turned a corner

Holden and Adebayo had there doubters early season but seem to have won fans around and turned a corner. Got me thinking of Saddlers in the past who we thought were ■■■■■ but turned out alrite. Shall I start the ball rolling with Michael Ricketts and Mike Cecere? Any other offers guys?

Ian Roper must be the ultimate example.


I always like to think Martin Butler won fans admiration


Ricketts was ****, then became good, then returned to ****. All in 2 years.


He could turn a corner, as long as it was wide enough…

Troy Deeney has to be the ultimate example.
Many thought he would never make a footballer and should go back to carrying bricks. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Was having this conversation with Gav77 on saturday. Seem to remember Paul Jones was a prime example, he took a lot of stick early on in his career coming through as a youngster. Came good and was having his best season of his career before sadly breaking his leg. We realised at that point how important he was to the team. Broke his leg towards the end of that promotion season against Notts County I think in 1988.


Keeper Mark Gayle who came good to win a player of the season award after a very dodgy start to his career with us the season before.

You would think we would learn when it comes to young attacking players.

There’s a very long list of forwards who at best sections of our support were ambivalent about and at worst were on the end of dog’s abuse.

Butler, Ricketts, Fryatt, Deeney, Grigg, Bakayoko, Sawyers off the top of my head.

At their respective peaks probably worth a combined £70m in today’s market and yet all at some point weren’t fancied by varying sections of our fanbase.

They didn’t turn a corner as such they just learned to do their jobs better. Which is kind of how it works in the real world - who knew??

Gordon, Adebayo and Holden the current crop. And like their predecessors they won’t feel any obligation, affiliation or loyalty to Walsall FC and in particular to its fans. Which makes absolute sense.


That is why I rarely criticise young players. They develop at different rates and need supporting rather than berating.i remember some folk writing Holden off after the friendlies!!! . We need just a little bit of patience sometimes.


We absolutely do.

We can’t and don’t buy million pound players but we’ve got a pretty decent record of growing them.

Current players worth over £1m in my opinion would be:


We’ve been good at this stuff and I believe there are signs that we might just have another two or three gems amongst the current crop. We should cherish and aid that.


(Revd.) Peter Hart.
He scored a screamer against us, playing for Huddersfield and he arrived the following season (IIRC), promising much. But it didn’t quite work out that way - disappointing until a change of position saw him become the outstanding player he was (and enter the Saddlers Hall of Fame).

Incidentally I also recall Allan Clarke’s first season and the stick he got. One bloke near us, was on his back every game, ‘Long streak of p*ss’, ‘He’ll never make a footballer as long as he’s got a hole up…’, was this particular expert’s assessment. Clarkey had the last laugh!.


Wasn’t Jimmy considered to be a bit iffy (and too small) in the early days?


That was certainly the way Notts County saw it. What a player they missed out on.


Reminds me of my attitude to Allan Clarke during his first few games. I did not abuse the lad but as a youngster myself I thought he was rubbish . At that time the caretaker at the Central Library was Peter McSevitch a former goalkeeper for the Saddlers and a real character. I was talking to him one day and he asked me what I thought of Clarke. “Not much” I replied and he said " listen lad he will play for England one day" I laughed as I walked away…the very next Saturday he scored his first goal for us and followed it up 2 weeks later with a hat trick against Reading. In my defence Clarke had not scored in his first 8 games and his overall play hadn’t really developed. It is one of the reasons I am now very cautious about writing players off too early. …as they say you cannot put an old head on young shoulders!!


Deeney was a kid when he first played for us, (18 I think), being played on the wing. By the time he left he was a decent league 1 player with potential to improve further, which Watford clearly saw.
More about development than “turning a corner” in my view.

Walking down Hillary Street after a match in lateish 1984, I got into conversation with a fellow fan who told me that David Kelly would never make a footballer, I said I thought he would, I was then told he was “too lightweight”. I said “he’s only 19, he’ll get stronger won’t he” but he remained unconvinced. I’d have liked a conversation with him on May 30th 1988 after Ned had shot us to promotion. :grin:


Used to be all over the place for crosses

I think the role the fans play shouldn’t be underestimated. Holden had some serious abuse early in the season. In fact it was still going on until just recently. At Forest Green I was stood right by the corner flag with my young lad. Holden put in two very poor corners, a section of fans absolutely slaughtered him, he heard every word of course. He did struggle early in the season, but then again he had never been a winger/wide man, he is a young player trying to make his way in the game. Even though he was struggling there were glimpses of quality, and he wasn’t the only one struggling. If only fans could encourage a bit more, rather than go straight in for abuse, I’m sure it would benefit us, especially younger players. The same ones who were slaughtering him, will be the ones complaining when he signs for someone else.


Maybe, although he did keep 5 or 6 consecutive clean sheets from his debut onwards . Went up a level when Graydon took over though, bit of much needed discipline.