Richard O'Kelly returns to Walsall again as first team coach

Richard O'Kelly has returned to Walsall to become assistant to manager Dean Smith for a third time, following his brief stay at relegated Bristol City.

The 56-year-old former Saddlers striker left his role as Sean O'Driscoll's deputy at Ashton Gate on Friday.

But, having left Walsall to join City in January, he has now opted to return to Bescot as first-team coach.

O'Kelly had four months under Smith during the 2011-12 season before taking the Hereford United manager's job.

Richard O'Kelly's playing days

  • Richard O'Kelly scored 56 goals in 204 league games for Walsall after signing from non-league Alvechurch in 1979.
  • He then moved to Port Vale in 1986, returning to Fellows Park to feature in the latter part of Walsall's 1987-88 promotion campaign under Tommy Coakley.
  • But, after moving on to Grimsby a year later, his career was ended by injury.

Having left in March 2012 to join the Bulls, he returned to Walsall last June following his narrow failure to keep Hereford in the Football League, turning down other offers.

When he left in January, Smith initially appointed another former Saddlers favourite David Kelly as number two, only for Billy Davies to return to work at Nottingham Forest and take Kelly with him.

Since then, Smith has left the number two role open, opting to work without an assistant until the end of the season, using academy boss Neil Woods for match-day dugout duty, as he did not want to risk unsettling his promotion-chasing side.

After retiring in 1989, O'Kelly was community officer at Port Vale before becoming youth-team coach under old Saddlers team-mate Alan Buckley, first at Grimsby and then West Bromwich Albion, where he spent seven years.

After becoming assistant manager to Graham Turner at Hereford in 2002, he then linked up with Sean O'Driscoll, first at Bournemouth and then at Doncaster Rovers.

Following O'Driscoll's sacking by Doncaster last September, the pair were then reunited at Ashton Gate. But, having remained based in the West Midlands, he has now opted to return to Walsall.