David Thomas “Ned” Kelly (born in Birmingham, England, 25 November 1965) is a retired footballer, currently assistant manager of Scunthorpe United. As a child, Kelly suffered from Perthes Disease, but recovered to forge a long and successful career in professional football. Kelly turned out for Walsall, West Ham United, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sunderland, Tranmere Rovers, Sheffield United, Motherwell, Mansfield Town and Derry City F.C., retiring in 2002.
He was a top goalscorer for Walsall when they won promotion to the Second Division via the playoffs in 1988, but was transferred to West Ham United soon afterwards, having scored 63 goals in 147 games for Walsall since making his debut for them in 1983. He was a regular player at West Ham United, helping them reach the Football League Cup semi-finals in the 1989–90 season and taking them to the verge of the Second Division playoffs that year, but managed just seven goals in 41 games before being sold to Second Division strugglers Leicester City in the autumn of 1990.
He recaptured his form at Filbert Street, helping them avoid relegation in 1990–91 and mount a challenge for promotion in 1991–92. He had a strong goalscoring record in the East Midlands, so it was a surprise when halfway through the 1991–92 season he accepted an offer from Ossie Ardiles to sign for Newcastle United, who were battling against relegation in the division. He scored 10 league goals for the Magpies that season as they avoided relegation, and was their leading scorer with 25 league goals when they won promotion from to the Premier League as Division One champions in the 1992–93 season. In his final game for the Magpies, on the last day of the season against his old club Leicester City (who had qualified for the playoffs) he and new strike-partner Andy Cole both scored hat-tricks in a 7–1 win.
However, he was transferred to Wolves (who were still a Division One side) in fear of losing his first-team place at St James’ Park following the return of Peter Beardsley.
Kelly played well in his first two seasons in the Black Country, but lost his first team place to Don Goodman in the autumn of 1995 and this led to him asking for a transfer. He signed for Sunderland in a £1million deal as manager Peter Reid was piecing together a side capable of reaching the Premier League.
He helped Sunderland win the Division One title in 1995–96, and although he remained a regular player in their 1996–97 Premier League campaign he failed to score a single league goal all season and his days on Wearside were numbered.
Upon completing his move to Tranmere Rovers in the summer of 1997, Kelly quickly became a firm fan’s favourite. Starting 69 league matches for the Rovers with a further 19 substitute appearances Kelly also featured in 7 FA Cup and 17 League Cup games for the Superwhites. Kelly scored 35 goals for Tranmere. His most prolific season was the 1999–2000 season. Kelly featured prominently in Rovers’ League Cup Run which ultimately led to them reaching the final and losing 2–1 to Leicester City. Kelly scored the goal for Rovers in that final and finished the season as the competition’s top scorer. Kelly left Tranmere (he later made a highly successful but brief return to Tranmere as assistant manager in 2002) and moved to Sheffield United on a free transfer at the start of the 2000–2001 season season. However his one season at Bramall Lane was not a success, as he scored just six goals in 35 league games and when the season ended he accepted an offer to sign for Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League. His six goals in 19 games went some way to ensuring Motherwell’s league safety, so it was something of a surprise when he accepted an offer to return to the English league in Division Three with Mansfield Town. He scored four goals in 17 games as the Stags leapfrogged Cheltenham Town in the race for the final automatic promotion place. However, Kelly left the club after their promotion, and instead crossed the Irish Sea to complete his playing career with Derry City, scoring twice in seven games before retiring from playing in 2002 and returning to England as assistant manager of Tranmere Rovers.
Kelly is a unique player as he was actually applauded while running onto St James’ Park as a substitute in the colours of rivals Sunderland, which is usually an extremely fierce game filled with hatred, Kelly lists this as his second favourite and proudest moment as a footballer.
In his final game of professional football, Kelly helped Derry City to victory over Shamrock Rovers in the 2002 FAI Cup final, departing for Dublin Airport immediately after the final whistle sounded at Tolka Park in order to assume his duties as newly appointed assistant manager at Tranmere Rovers.
He was born in Birmingham, England but chose to play for the Republic of Ireland due to his ancestry, picking up 26 caps and scoring 9 goals (including a hat trick on his debut against Israel in Dublin on 10 November 1987). His most famous goal for Ireland came in a February 1995 friendly clash against England at Lansdowne Road, with Kelly scoring just before the half hour mark. The game was abandoned shortly thereafter with the score 1-0 due to a riot started by right-wing Combat-18 extremists amongst the English fans. His final cap came in 1998.
After retiring as a footballer he became a coach and has consistently worked with Billy Davies, as a player at Motherwell and being part of Davies’ backroom staff at Sheffield United Preston North End, Derby County and Nottingham Forest.He was named as assistant manager to Davies at Derby in July 2007, a few weeks after the club achieved promotion to the Premier League after Davies had spent the majority of the 2006–07 season trying to secure Kelly from Preston, who placed him on gardening leave following Davies’ move to Derby. He left the club, with Davies, just four months later when Davies left the club by mutual consent following a disastrous start to the 2007–08 season. He followed Davies to Nottingham Forest, again being named as assistant manager on 1 January 2009. He left Forest in June 2011 when his contract was terminated by the club following the departure of Billy Davies. Davies was reappointed as Forest Manager in early 2013 and again brought Kelly in as one of his staff, this time as Deputy Manager.
On 13 October 2014, Kelly was appointed as new assistant manager to Mark Robins at Scunthorpe United.
• Football League Third Division play-offs: Winner – 1988
• Football League First Division: Winner – 1992–93
• Football League First Division: Winner – 1995–96
• Football League Cup: Runner-up – 2000
• FAI Cup: 2002
|Scunthorpe United (assistant manager)|
|1988–1990||West Ham United||41||(7)|
|1990–1994||Republic of Ireland B||3||(2)|
|1988–1998||Republic of Ireland||26||(9)|
|1988–1989||Republic of Ireland U21||3||(1)|
|1990||Republic of Ireland U23||1||(1)|