Dean Smith today hailed Walsall’s 1980s spirit and said his players now have the chance to make their mark on the club’s history.
In the week that Saddlers fans paid tribute to the side who reached the Milk Cup semi-finals 30 years ago, Smith believes a similar bond between players and supporters is being built as his own team, who face Crawley Town tomorrow, hunt a League One play-off place.
The Milk Cup squad, who included Smith’s assistant Richard O’Kelly, is regarded as one of the greatest in the club’s history. Smith began his own professional career with the Saddlers three years later.
“When I joined the club as a player in 1987, I really liked the atmosphere, the togetherness between the fans and the players,” said Smith. “I have certainly felt there is a move toward that again now, a sense of being together again which is really important to a club like us.
“I keep winding Richard (O’Kelly) up that I’m too young to remember the Milk Cup run. But I do remember it and it’s great the club and supporters remember them for that. It’s an opportunity for our players if they can do something this season, to be remembered in the same way.”
The past 18 months have seen an end to the constant chopping and changing of the squad which was prevalent in recent years and Smith added: “There is more continuity. Andy Butler’s been here for a while and Adam Chambers has been here for a while and they start getting a relationship with supporters and getting to know them.
“I think it has to help a club the size of ours.”
The Saddlers go into tomorrow’s game a place and two points outside the play-off positions and on paper it is a game they should look to win. Crawley have suffered a rash of postponements which has seen them slide toward the relegation zone. But Smith is taking nothing for granted.
“In terms of being expected to win, everyone talked about that against MK Dons earlier this month and we lost 3-0,” he said.
“You are not expected to beat anyone in this league. Anybody can beat anybody and Crawley are a good side. The only reason they are where they are is because they haven’t played for so long.”
Defender Matt Preston has joined Barwell on a one month loan deal.