AT the start of the season, Adamstown was the quietest squad goalkeeper Benn Kelly had been part of.
The former Azzurri, Hamilton, Maitland, Weston and Lake Macquarie shot-stopper was one of many new faces in rookie coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff’s group, and he says it took a while for everyone to gel.
Now, he says, “you can’t shut them up” at the Northern NSW NPL’s “giant-killers”.
“I was doing some training with Clint Gosling the other night and the rest of the squad was warming up,” Kelly said. “And Clint said: ‘Hear that? That wasn’t happening at the start of the year. Listen to the chirp, the attitude and the drive. The happy-go-lucky attitude.’
“A few people are calling us giant-killers but we’re just a bunch of blokes having a game and enjoying it. Enjoying playing for the club, for Shane and each other.
“Everyone is just working for each other, working hard and everyone is enjoying each other’s company. It’s a bit of a no dickhead policy and everyone, whether they are 17 or 33, they are all just really good fellas.”
Adamstown are making plenty of noise in the league after bouncing back from a 9-1 loss to Maitland in round three to draw 1-1 with defending champions Lambton Jaffas then topple ladder leaders Charlestown 3-2 and Edgeworth 1-0 over the past fortnight.
Despite having the worst defensive (24 goals) and second-worst attacking (10 goals) records, Rosebud’s determined efforts against the heavyweights have lifted them to 11 points and sixth place after nine rounds.
Kelly has been instrumental in the resurgence, claiming three players’ player awards in recent weeks.
The 33-year-old missed the opening three games after fracturing his leg in a clash of knees during a trial game with Cooks Hill. He has conceded 12 goals in six games since returning, but those include 4-0 losses to Broadmeadow and Lake Macquarie in which Adamstown had a player sent off.
“He’s been playing in the league for a long time,” Cansdell-Sherriff said. “He knows the player I need, I’ve had a few chats with him and he knows what’s required and he’s taken to it well. The last three games especially he’s been a standout and shown what he’s capable of.”
Kelly put the turnaround down to “Shane getting us organised” in defence and the squad “just having fun”.
“Obviously the first few games we were leaking some goals and he knew he had a duty to, if we’re not scoring many, we had to tighten up at the back, so we’ve been working really hard with [assistant] Phil Koina and Shane on that,” Kelly said.
Kelly was set for a rest when Adamstown take on Raymond Terrace at King Park in round five of the FFA Cup on Wednesday night.