Express & Star

Unsung hero Michael Dobson has a place in Walsall folklore

Michael Dobson only needs to walk through the reception doors at Bescot to be reminded of the indelible mark he left on Walsall Football Club.

Walsall captain Michael Dobson

A striking image seeped deep in nostalgia hangs proudly on the wall above the staircase of the former Saddlers skipper lifting the League Two title in 2007.

Seventeen years later, the very sight of it brings a smile to his face as he casts back his mind to Walsall’s season in the sunshine.

“It’s funny because a couple of photos popped up the other day that I’d not seen before of all the lads on the pitch holding flags,” he remembers.

“It was quite nice to see them and I was reliving it with my kids and saying, ‘can you spot me?’.

“They were asking who was who and were asking questions because at that time, I didn’t have my kids.

“Now, I’ve got a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old so they didn’t see any of it. It was nice to be able to relive it with them.

“Even my wife was in the crowd and she was reliving the day with me.”

It had been the dream debut season for Dobson. The midfielder, who had ended his 16-year affiliation with Brentford, turned down offers from a higher level to join Walsall, and made his final sway towards Bescot at the end of a tug-of-war with Swindon Town.

Richard Money was pondering his title plot and building a group of players with a complementary blend of youth and experience: raw talent and proven quality.

Scott Dann, aged 20, was a Walsall academy graduate, who the club considered letting go of prior to Money’s arrival.

He would go onto enjoy an accomplished career with Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Crystal Palace respectively in the Premier League. Then there were 21-year-old pair Anthony Gerrard and Danny Fox, another two who would go on to play at a higher level. The young trio featured prominently alongside a contingent of more experienced heads.

Money entrusted Dean Keates, Martin Butler, Chris Westwood, Darren Wrack and his newly-

appointed captain Dobson as the eyes and ears of the dressing room.

Dobson was eager to lead by example with the armband. He thrived on the inconspicuous yet essential part of the game, and his team-mates appreciated it too.

Keates described him as the ‘unsung hero’ of the title-winning side and claimed he would’ve never notched a career-high 13 goals without him.