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Chris Marsh: No-one could have imagined this start for Walsall

By Chris Marsh | Walsall FC | Published:

It’s a statistic that was too wild to even dream about.

Marsh: What a start

Had Walsall beaten Blackpool on Saturday, it would have been their best ever start to a league season.

Nobody in their right mind would have predicted that a week before the campaign got under way.

If I had tipped us to make our best ever start, someone would have put me in a white jacket and carried me to the cells.

And while it didn’t happen in the end – with the Saddlers being held to a draw by Blackpool – I’m just delighted we were even in with a chance.

We are watching a side transformed from the one that ended last season.

But I do think the Blackpool game was just one step too far.

For the players, it was their eighth game in less than a month.

And while I’m not one for excuses, it does catch up with you.

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Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.

Preparation for games in my day was good, but it’s even better now.

And it’s not a case of working too hard on the training ground because all that is monitored.

Sometimes you just go into games and there isn’t a lot of fuel left in the tank.

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There is nothing more to it than that. And I think that was the case on Saturday.

Walsall weren’t at their best and yet they still didn’t lose the game.

They shut up shop, kept things tight and got a good point in the end.

That says a lot about the character of the team because they could easily have let the game slip through their fingers.

But if you can’t win it, don’t lose it. And that’s what they did.

Because of the hectic schedule, I was pleased Dean Keates made so many changes for the Checkatrade Trophy game with Burton on Tuesday. It’s not demeaning the competition at all – Keates is giving players an opportunity and a chance to impress.

And they took it – we won again despite all the changes.

It’s a squad game these days and Keates needed to give those players minutes to ensure they are ready because they are going to be called upon.

The Checkatrade Trophy has become a competition steeped in controversy following the Football League’s decision to allow under-21 teams.

It’s at the stage now where you either want to get knocked out in the first round or make it to Wembley – there is no middle ground.

I was at Wembley a few years ago when we made it to the final.

I went with my friends Steve Jenkins and Pete Waterman.

Walsall didn’t really turn up that afternoon, but I had a great day.

It was before my brain haemorrhage and I may have had one or two beers.

To be honest, I can’t remember a lot about it.

But now we’ve won our first game I’d love to see my pal Keatesy lead us out at Wembley again.

It would be incredible to see us pick up some silverware.

Also this week I want to talk about Kieron Morris.

I read his comments about how he said the arrival of Josh Ginnelly and Zeli Ismail is now bringing out the best in him.

I’ve always been a fan of Morris as a player. He’s got all the tools.

He just needs to have a greater impact on games.

Last season, he knew he was playing week-in, week-out no matter what.

But he’s started this season on the bench and then had to watch as Ismail and Ginnelly got among the goals.

Now though, he is performing. He’s on three for the season.

His goalscoring has improved, but so has his all-round game. I really hope he can keep it up.

Finally this week, I just want to talk about a charity game involving ex-Saddler Paul Devlin.

Paul was a big player for Blues, but he also had a spell at Walsall.

His daughter Annie has been diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, which is a very rare, life-threatening condition.

They are looking to raise £20,000 for treatment that isn’t available on the NHS but will improve her quality of life.

When I had my brain haemorrhage, Paul was one of the first people who texted me. And now I want to help him.

A charity match between Blues All-Stars and Wolves All-Stars is taking place at Tally Ho Conference & Banqueting Centre in Edgbaston on October 21. It kicks off at 11am.

It would be great if you could get there.

But if not, you can help Annie by visiting her Just Giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sally-devlin-1

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