NEIL KELLY has paid tribute to Dewsbury Rams and says the club should be a model of how rugby league clubs should be run.
He took charge of his final game as coach last weekend, after announcing that he would be stepping down due to personal reasons.
Kelly had two spells at the club as a player and has now finished his second spell as coach, and he paid tribute to both the people and the whole set-up of the club.
“I made my debut here as a player back in 1982, which is a long time ago, and there are some people here who have been at the club before that,” he said.
“It’s not about supporters, coaches and players; it’s about friendships, and throughout all this year and especially in the difficult last third of the season I have lots of supporters who have given me some personal support and I appreciate that and won’t forget it.
“I’d like to think when and if I do come back I’ll see those faces again.
“I think it’s a brilliant club, and it should be the blueprint for clubs this size. It’s not going to be in the near future a club like a St Helens or a Wigan or a Leeds.
“It has got some great facilities and all the facilitates it needs, it’s got training pitches coming out of its ears, weight rooms that are going to be developed over the next 18 months.
“Actually what we have got can be seen as a ball and chain around our foot, which it shouldn’t be, it should be to promote the club.
“You have clubs who don’t have what we have and sometimes they are seen as more financially secure than what we are because they don’t have to pay for the maintenance of these facilities.
“I think the game should be proud of what clubs like Dewsbury and Batley provide, and on the contrary it seems quite the opposite – they are seen as burdens.”
Kelly got the perfect send-off last week with a 52-6 home win over Leigh Centurions.
However, Leigh fielded only 13 players and finished the game with just 11 on the pitch, after a number of first-team players were let go due to their failure to make the Qualifiers, combined with an injury crisis hitting the bare squad left behind.
Kelly says that his former club are an example of what is wrong in the game.
“I think it’s an indictment of the whole game in general at the moment. Great teams and great clubs are turning up to grounds with only 13 players.
“However it’s still important you do what you need to do to get the win, but if you start to treat them as if they are a weakened or understrength side you can end up looking embarrassed.
“It was important we did the right things at the end of the game and capitalised on the lack of numbers they had.
“We asked the players at half time how they wanted to win the game, if we wanted to win it scruffy, which it ultimately was in the last 10 to 15 minutes.
“However before then I thought we did well. When we did complete sets and defended well we forced the errors and then scored the tries.”
The win sealed eighth spot in the Championship table for the Rams, and Kelly says that their final position reflects an inconsistent campaign.
“It’s been a season of ifs, whats, maybes and could-have-beens,” he admitted.
“There have been some high points in it, for example drawing away at Halifax who have done well in the middle eights.
“There are games that I am really proud of and those gave everyone an indication of what the side could have achieved, (but) we do enough wrongs to go against what we do right.
“Throughout all this year I have to compliment the group and the players, (but) sometimes we haven’t had great control of the ball and our discipline hasn’t been the best.
“I have sounded a bit silly sometimes after games trying to defend the situation, saying we are a good side and we were doing enough wrong.
“That’s for the next person to sort out, the discipline and the errors. Once that is sorted there is a good side here.”
Kelly says that he is “disappointed to be leaving” the club, which he re-joined midway through the 2017 season and helped steer clear of relegation.
“When I have been here and to Widnes and wherever else I have been, I have been (focused) more about enjoying my time wherever I have gone.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and the response the players gave at the end of last season showed in the results.
“Like I say there have been high points this season, but there have been other points which have been less enjoyable.
“It is common knowledge now that I have got issues in my private life that I need to sort out, (and) hopefully they will work out how I think everyone will want them to work out.
“If in two months’ time we are in a situation where we can put that situation on the back burner then I’ll be looking for another job, so it won’t be the end of me.”