Ken Coleman on his love of the game, from Leeds to Wolves and back again

Father of three from Ballyvolane has come out of retirement to help his club get back to the top
Ken Coleman on his love of the game, from Leeds to Wolves and back again

Leeds' Ken Coleman is tackled by Cork City's Daire O'Riordan and Garan Manley during the friendly to mark Leeds' 30th Anniversary

TO bow out on a high is the dream for most players. As we know through experience, that rarely happens.

For Leeds player Ken Coleman, deciding to return to play in the MSL this season is an opportunity for him to do just that. He's hoping to help the club he started out as a schoolboy with to gain promotion.

The former international and Wolverhampton Wanders player's Leeds side are fourth in the First Division. They've had a mixed start to the new campaign but Coleman's confident they can deliver. 

It's back to where it all started for him, the father of three from Ballyvolane happy to be out of retirement. He's really enjoying the game again.

Castleview's Timothy Power goes past Leeds'  Ken Coleman during the Beamish Stout MSL First Divison game at O'Sullivan Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Castleview's Timothy Power goes past Leeds'  Ken Coleman during the Beamish Stout MSL First Divison game at O'Sullivan Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“It all started for me U8s in the Southside League with Leeds where we were blessed with talent from the Ballvolane/Glen area at the time,” said Coleman.

“By the time it came to schoolboy league football we already had a foundation laid and it showed because we dominated every year from U11s to U16s winning the double every year and reaching three National Cup finals. We only won one National Cup, at U13, but they were really enjoyable years and I played with some great players including Leon McSweeney, Kevin Murray and Alan Kennefick, to name a few. They were all lads I grew up with which made the success more special.

“I suppose our success in the National Cup then attracted the attention of scouts who at that time only ever watched the Dublin League. I was lucky enough to get across to a few clubs in the UK. Aston Villa, Blackburn Leeds United and Wolves. 

"I eventually decided Wolves was for me and I left when I was 16, signing a four-year deal.

“I worked with some great players and coaches there and things progressed fast for me as I became a regular in the youth and reserve team. It really was a fantastic and surreal time.

“I also became a regular in the Irish setup with Brian Kerr and Noel O’Reilly. Great teams and memories that will last a lifetime. We won the Nordic Cup in Iceland beating England 3-2 in the final, who had players that went on to be Premier League stars in later years."

In his last year at Wolves, he decided to go out on loan to Kidderminster Harriers in League Two. 

"It was great. You couldn’t beat playing every Saturday at 3pm in full stadiums and I loved it, so when my contract ended at Wolves I made the move permanent. 

Denis Irwin had just signed for Wolves and I wasn’t getting in ahead of him! I didn’t want to go back to reserve team football so off I went.

“Things started well for us and then I got injured after around two months into the season. I had awful trouble with my groin adductor and for ages couldn’t get it right which was obviously very frustrating and a really tough time." 

After two surgeries and countless specialists, he got back and played the last two games under new manager Jan Molby. 

"My contract was up and I agreed to come back for pre-season, The idea was we would take it from there but I never went back. It's something I really regret every day.

“League of Ireland had really taken off and I thought I may as well play here and I can still make decent money. A Cork City move fell through, which was my own fault because I wasn’t fit. 

"Luckily enough Alan Reynolds took a chance on me in Waterford and we had a decent time there finishing fourth in the league and reaching the FAI Cup final in Lansdowne Road losing to Longford."

He then joined Stephen Henderson at Cobh Ramblers. 

Former Cobh Ramblers player Ken Coleman hits the net against Galway. Picture: Brian Lougheed
Former Cobh Ramblers player Ken Coleman hits the net against Galway. Picture: Brian Lougheed

"I enjoyed some great times again with some great players with the highlight obviously winning the league and getting promoted. I remained with the club until they were forced out of league football at the end of the 2008 season.

“While at Waterford, I realised I wasn’t going back to England so I needed a job. After trying one or two different things I eventually got into An Post where I still work today along with one of my ex-teammates Joe Gamble. It’s a job I enjoy and it fits in well with football and family life.

“So having a job and realising Ireland was the place for me for football there was a structure to my weekly routine." 

He played with Blarney United for a few years after Cobh.

"It's a really fantastic club. We had some great times. We reached the third round of the 2009 FAI Cup, losing 2-0 to Sporting Fingal at O'Shea Park." 

Home is where the heart is, and he eventually returned to Leeds Park. 

"We reached the quarter-finals of the 2014/15 Munster Senior Cup so that was a good period. However two years ago I decided to retire but now two years later I decided to give it one more go this year and hopefully we can achieve something this season in what is a really competitive league.

“They say you should always go out on a high and that remains the plan.”

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