Life, and football for that matter, work in unusual methods typically. Just once you assume you’ve seen all of it, it produces magic out of skinny air, a scratch-your-eyes moment, or a bit piece of surprising history. You possibly can by no means be too skilled to flee it, both.
Kevin Ellison might well have laughed had you advised him this time last year he’d be enjoying in one other Wembley Final, and with good reason.
9 months in the past, he’d made peace with the actual fact his enjoying days have been up. Approaching 42 years of age, he’d lasted longer than most footballers may ever dream of, that includes in all 4 of England’s top 4 divisions alongside the way in which. Following a close to decade-long stay at Morecambe, the place he’d grow to be a membership legend, it was time to plan for a life after the gorgeous recreation.
Then, a lifeline, a divine intervention, within the type of a cellphone name from Newport County AFC. Had the decision come the next day, or perhaps a few hours later than it did, we could possibly be speaking about Ellison the footballer within the past tense, however life – and football – don’t work that method. It was a moment which might mark the start of the striker’s second coming and, on the proof of this season alone, there’s at all times room for magic.
“I’ll be sincere with you… last August, I used to be trying to start a manufacturing unit job,” he says, talking after serving to to fireplace his new membership to Wembley. “Newport referred to as me at six within the morning and requested me to come down, just a few hours earlier than I used to be imagined to start my first shift, and earlier than I knew it I used to be heading down for a coaching session. I’ve gone from just about to start a warehouse job to enjoying at Wembley. It’s unimaginable.
“I’ve completed my teaching badges, however football isn’t that straightforward. I’ve been across the recreation lengthy sufficient to know individuals, however COVID hit football massively and I had payments to pay. I’ve two children to feed and the considered going right into a manufacturing unit didn’t scare me; it’s not concerning the ego of Kevin Ellison, I labored earlier than football and I do know I’ll work afterwards. It could be great if I can stay in football, however is that straightforward? I don’t assume it’s.”
Ellison is aware of as well as anybody that football and straightforward are hardly ever a match. Having made his debut for Southport in 1996, the Liverpool lad has labored tirelessly for over a quarter of a century to be within the place he’s in as we speak, enjoying for no fewer than 10 League Golf equipment and even making a solitary top-flight look for Leicester City, the season after their most up-to-date League Cup triumph.
Having spoken brazenly about his own struggles with melancholy away from football, counselling was one other route he thought-about when quickly hanging up his boots. Ellison is a task mannequin, who desires to make use of his experiences to assist others, whether or not that’s on matchday or in any other case.
“I’ve completed my counselling programs too, as a result of I’ve received a ardour for serving to others with their psychological well being,” he provides. “I did my level two course last year and hoped to start level three earlier than COVID hit. I need to assist others and, if I can’t stay in football and coach, I’ll go down that route as a result of it places a smile on my face. If I can’t assist on the pitch, I’ll assist off it.
“At my age, I do know I’m not going to play each week, and I do know I must be ready for at any time when the manager calls on me. I’m right here to assist and make an impression and, once you have a look at the video games against Port Vale and Morecambe as well because the Semi-Final against Forest Inexperienced, I believe I’ve completed that this season. I do know I’ll make an impression and I’m centered on doing that. It’s about being proper mentally and I do know I can nonetheless do it at this level.
“When the gaffer signed me, he said ‘you’re going to make an impression, I’ve received video games for you’ and I believe I’ve come on and completed that in video games. We gained 1-0 against Port Vale and I scored within the 90th minute, we had a top-of-the-table recreation against Morecambe and I scored. However it’s extra about Newport, and hopefully we will go one higher than we did last time.”
Certainly, with out Ellison’s goals, Newport wouldn’t have made this season’s Play-Offs, and so when his team wanted a goal in last weekend’s Semi-Final second leg, it appeared like destiny that he must be the man to supply it. Trailing 3-0 on the night time and 3-2 on mixture to Forest Inexperienced with 20 minutes to go, Ellison’s spectacular effort set in movement a change in fortunes which County followers will keep in mind for years to come.
It was a goal which defied not logic, however expectation. Twenty 5 years of Kevin Ellison advised us he was able to such brilliance, however had anybody seen it coming? Maybe manager Michael Flynn had. It was the type of impression they’d spoken about on that Monday morning cellphone name, and not for the primary time.
In a single swing of his left boot, Ellison had grow to be not solely the Play-Offs’ oldest-ever player, however oldest-ever scorer too. Higher nonetheless for lovers of football’s great narratives, it was a moment which helped set up a Wembley reunion along with his old employers, Morecambe.
“I didn’t know concerning the report!” he says, laughing. “I keep in mind Dean Windass scoring for Hull right here a number of years back, nevertheless it’s an honour to have that by my title. I’m stood right here speaking to you now on the age of 42 and nonetheless enjoying skilled football… boy, I’ll take that. To score within the Semi-Final, it’s up there with the highlights of my career, however there’s nonetheless a job to do.
“Individuals are saying to me it’s written within the stars and that it’s me against Morecambe, nevertheless it’s not that, it’s Newport against Morecambe. I’ve completed my utmost against Newport within the past so I’d prefer to assume I’m paying them back, and hopefully I can do just that as we speak. I had 9 good years at Morecambe and if I may have picked a team to play at Wembley it will have been them, however I’m a Newport player now and I need to win for Newport.
“It’s just wonderful to be back at Wembley and I’ll take pleasure in this moment. Hopefully, I can play my half once more.”
And so whereas it may appear futile to try to foretell what may occur subsequent for Ellison, there’s a lot we do know. If football is the manufacturing unit, he’s considered one of its most interesting items. Wherever this match – and life – take him from right here, his career has been the stuff of goals. Ellison won’t but be willing to decide to any particular plans past this weekend however, then once more, a magician by no means reveals his secrets and techniques.
“I nonetheless really feel good, and I need to play for so long as I can,” he concludes. “May that goal within the Semi-Final have been my last kick within the EFL? Possibly.
“If it was, I’ll have gone out with a bang.”