Following the return of goalkeeper legend Jimmy Walker, Walsall Web Fans looks back at a selection of players who had two or even three spells with Walsall. ‘Super Jim’ joined Walsall as a 20 year old from Notts Co in 1993 and went on to play around 475 first team game for the Saddlers before his departure to West Ham in 2004. He later had a spell with Colchester and has recently been third choice keeper at Tottenham Hotspur.
Legendary winger Colin Taylor had three spells with the club between 1958 and 1973. ‘Cannonball’ moved on to first division Newcastle United in 1963 for a fee of £20,000 but returned to Fellows Park for half that fee in October 1964. His next move saw him go to Crystal Palace from May 1968 to November 1969 before a third and final stint for another four years here much to the delight of his fans.
Centre half Stan Jones joined Walsall in 1956 and four years on moved to West Bromwich Albion where he enjoyed eight years at The Hawthorns before a return to Fellows Park in March 1968 where he enjoyed another four years at his first club. Goalkeeper Keith Ball had three spells with Walsall, two years from 1960 before a move to Worcester City to give him more games with a return to Fellows Park before a move to Port Vale. He then came out of retirement to play two games in the1972-3 season when due to a keeper crisis we used seven keepers. Talented midfielder Jimmy Mc Morran joined Saddlers from Aston Villa in November 1964 and had a short spell at Swansea before another spell here before he was sold to Notts County in July 1969.
Alan Buckley had five terrific seasons from August 1973 scoring 125 goals and a minimum of 20 goals a season until a move to Birmingham City in 1978 for a club record at the time of £175,000 saw the little striker break his service-and the hearts of Walsall supporters who witnessed an awful 1978-9 season without his goals and the Saddlers were relegated to Division Four. However he returned the following summer for the same fee in a role of player/manager at just 28 years of age and won promotion back to the third in his first season. He then scored another 49 goals in his second spell before concentrating on management.
Keeper Mick Kearns also joined in the summer of 1973 and had six terrific seasons before a surprise move to Wolves in 1979. He returned to Walsall on a non-contract basis and played his part in the 1983-4 Milk Cup run in some of the games, including the one at Arsenal. Another keeper to have two spells was Ronnie Green who joined as a youngster in 1977 and after 160 games went on to play for the likes of Shrewsbury, Bristol Rovers, Scunthorpe, Wimbledon and Man City before his return to Fellows Park in 1989. He then continued to be first choice in the first season at Bescot. Winger Willie Naughton was signed from Preston by Buckley in 1985 and enjoyed a four year spell before joining Shrewsbury. He returned to Bescot for a few months in 1991.
Striker Richard O’Kelly joined Walsall in 1979 from Alvechurch and remained until 1986 before joining Port Vale. Later playing for Alan Buckley at Grimsby before a return to Fellows Park in 1988 where under Tommy Coakley he made another 12 appearances to help Walsall win promotion. Another former player Coakley signed up was 35 year-old Ray Train who started off with Walsall in the late 1960′s before he was transferred to Carlisle and played for a host of clubs. Kevin Summerfield had a short loan spell from Birmingham City in December 1982 and was signed full time in February 1983 and was best remembered for his goal at Anfield in 1984 which gave Walsall a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the Milk Cup semi final with Liverpool.
The Bescot years have seen a host of players to return to the fold. Martin O’Connor had a loan spell from Crystal Palace in 1993 before his £40,000 move. He left for spells at Peterborough and Birmingham before a return ’home’ in the 2002-3 season. Tom Bennett had two loan spells from Stockport County before his move and went on to captain the club and lift the play off trophy at the Millennium Stadium in 2001. Striker Martin Butler had a four year spell here from 1993 before scoring plenty of goals for Cambridge, Reading and Rotherham before a 2006 return under Richard Money.
Little midfielder Dean Keates enjoyed a seven year spell from 1995 to 2002 before his spells at Hull, Kidderminster and Lincoln before his return in January 2006 and he was one of the stars of Richard Money’s title winners, blasting 13 goals.
Michael Ricketts started out at Bescot as a 17 year old in 1996 before his £500,000 move to Bolton. He played for a host of clubs before a 3 months loan from Oldham in 2007 before another return in 2008. Winger Herevelto was a fans favourite from 2001-2003 and returned in the 2004-5 season with an appearance from the bench. Players who had two loan spells but never joined the club on a full time basis include Tony Lowery and Kevin Harper. Darren Byfield was a star of our 2001 play off final and returned to the club last September. The likes of Paul Hall and Danny Sonner returned without making the same impact.