WALSALL 1998-99 SEC­OND DIVI­SON RUN­NERS UP

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO RESULTS - By Neil Fissler Bat­ter­ing ram

CHRIS MARSH won pro­mo­tion four times in his 14 sea­sons at Walsall but says the penul­ti­mate was the most un­ex­pected of the lot.

Marsh made three sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances in 1987-88 when the un­fash­ion­able Sad­dlers won pro­mo­tion from Di­vi­sion Three.

He was a reg­u­lar when they fin­ished run­ners up be­hind Carlisle United in 1994-95 and left to­wards the end of the 2000-01 cam­paign after fail­ing to hold down a first team place.

But in 1998-99 he was Ray Gray­don’s au­to­matic choice at right-back and ad­mits that the club with the small­est bud­get in the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion were favourites for rel­e­ga­tion at the start of the sea­son.

“We had the small­est bud­get in the league and were favourites to go down but we spent the whole sea­son go­ing to good clubs like Ful­ham, who fin­ished as cham­pi­ons, and Manch­ester City and get­ting points.

“We went to Gilling­ham for the first game of the sea­son. I hit a long ball into the box and a lad called Dar­ren Carr headed it into his own net and it snow­balled from there.

“We just kept on pick­ing up re­sults. In­di­vid­u­ally we weren’t the best but as a team we were bril­liant.

“We worked end­lessly all week on de­fend­ing and counter at­tack­ing. And that worked well against good teams who liked to play but we could also dig out re­sults.”

Walsall had the best away record in the coun­try, win­ning 13 games, seven of them by a sin­gle goal, and were scarcely out of the top three all sea­son.

Gray­don had to sell French stars Roger Boli and Jeff Peron be­fore the first ball was kicked and had to find bar­gain re­place­ment to com­pete with Ful­ham and Manch­ester City.

Dar­ren Wrack ar­rived from Derby County re­serves and Andy Ram­mell, once signed by Sir Alex Fer­gu­son for Manch­ester United, came from Southend United.

Ram­mell re­warded Gray­don by scor­ing 18 goals, one of only four times he reached dou­ble fig­ures in the league in a 16-sea­son ca­reer.

“Rams is a hero,” says Marsh. “He wasn’t a pro­lific scorer but he got im­por­tant goals

Bat­ter­ing ram

“In the sea­son we won pro­mo­tion he was bril­liant. He is down in Walsall folk law and rightly so.

“He al­ways said that he was a ten goal a sea­son man. He was a bat­ter­ing ram and there was so much more to him than goals, like bring­ing peo­ple into play.

“He was good in the air and gave de­fend­ers nightmares. Rams was very, very good for us that sea­son.”

As well as win­ning pro­mo­tion Walsall almost made a Wem­b­ley ap­pear­ance but were beaten by Mill­wall in the area fi­nal of the Auto Wind­screen Shield.

“Neil Poin­ton missed a penalty down at Mill­wall which would have been re­ally im­por­tant,” Marsh says. “It would have been bril­liant go­ing to the Old Wem­b­ley but that was the only dis­ap­point­ment for us that sea­son.”

1. Tom Bradley: The one-time physio is still work­ing in the Sad­dlers dress­ing room look­ing after the kit.

2. Neil Poin­ton: After short spells in non-league man­age­ment, he has re­mained in the North-West and is work­ing as an academy coach at Bolton Wan­der­ers

3. Andy Ram­mell: Based in Ware­ham, Dorset and re­tired four years ago after spend­ing seven years work­ing for the Royal Mail in Kid­der­min­ster.

4. Adrian Viveash: After man­ag­ing Cirences­ter Town for 16 months he went to work for Chelsea and is cur­rently in charge of their U21s.

5. Clive Platt: Re­tired through in­jury in Oc­to­ber 2014 and is fi­nan­cial business de­vel­op­ment man­ager for Pro-Syn­ergy Wealth and Tax Man­age­ment Ltd.

6. Danny Nais­bitt: Based in Old Har­low, Es­sex and a sports agent run­ning Mint Sports Man­age­ment.

7. Jimmy Walker: Walsall’s all­time record ap­pear­ance holder is now the goal­keep­ing coach at League One Peter­bor­ough United.

8. Ian Roper: Has been work­ing for the Nuneaton and Bed­worth Leisure Trust as a com­mu­nity sports coach for the last two years.

9. Michael Rick­etts: A striker who was capped once by Eng­land, he has re­turned to the West Mid­lands and lives in Birm­ing­ham.

10. Matt Gadsby: He col­lapsed and died while play­ing for Hink­ley United against Har­ro­gate in Septem­ber 2006 aged 27.

11. Neil Davies: Is still liv­ing and work­ing in his na­tive Bloxwich after fin­ish­ing his ca­reer in non-league foot­ball

12. Bill Jones: Bill served Walsall as youth li­ai­son of­fi­cer for many years.

13. Ja­son Bris­sett: Be­lieved to be back liv­ing in the London area and was last known to be work­ing as a coach and a foot­ball con­sul­tant.

14. Wayne Evans: After work­ing in Canada for a cou­ple of years he re­turned to the UK where he be­came academy man­ager for Shrews­bury Town.

15. Jean Fran­cois Peron: Is now back liv­ing in his na­tive France where he has coached SC Hérou­ville, As Caen and USON Mon­dev­ille.

16. John Keis­ter: After a stint as player-as­sis­tant man­ager of Mar­gate he was tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of the Sierra Leone FA be­fore be­com­ing coach of Freeport-based FC Jo­hansen.

17. Chris Marsh: Coached in Aus- tralia and Amer­ica and is now run­ning his own coach­ing company Marsh Sports Man­age­ment in War­wick­shire.

18. Ray Gray­don: Went on to man­age Bris­tol Rovers and hold a num­ber of other coach­ing posts. He now lives in Southamp­ton and works for the Premier League

19. Den­nis Booth: Has had coach­ing roles with As­ton Villa, Bris­tol Rovers, Hud­der­s­field Town, Port Vale, Not­ting­ham For­est, Preston and Carlisle where he was head of foot­ball af­fairs.

20. Dean Keates: Is still play­ing for Wrex­ham in the Con­fer­ence and will be cel­e­brat­ing his 37th birth­day at the end of the sea­son.

21. Wayne Thomas: Is play­ing for Worces­ter City and kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Har­ro­gate in Oc­to­ber as an emer­gency goal­keeper.

22. Dar­ren Wrack: He is now scout­ing & re­cruit­ment man­ager for Brighton & Hove Al­bion after he re­tired from play­ing aged 34.

23. Gary Porter: He en­tered sports man­age­ment and is now work­ing as a play­ers agent for the Base Soc­cer agency in London.

24. An­drew Wat­son: Is back liv­ing in his na­tive Leeds and has been work­ing as a per­sonal trainer for Vir­gin Ac­tive for the last seven years. NOT PIC­TURED

Colin Cramb: Lives in Bish­opsworth, Bris­tol. He is the only player to have played in all four di­vi­sions in Eng­land and Scot­land. He works as a sur­veyor.

Siggi Eyjolf­s­son: Coached the Ice­land’s na­tional woman’s team and was tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of the Ice­landic FA. He is now as­sis­tant coach of Lillestrøm.

Darko Mavrak: Set­tled in Sligo in the Repub­lic of Ire­land where he runs his own restau­rant business.

Wal­ter Otta: Back liv­ing in his na­tive Ar­gentina where he is coach­ing Buenos Aires-based club Atlético Acas­suso.

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