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Club News

Dons move adds extra gloss for Josh

Interview with new Wimbledon forward

22 February 2024

Club News

Dons move adds extra gloss for Josh

Interview with new Wimbledon forward

22 February 2024

It has certainly been an unconventional route to Plough Lane for our new forward Josh Kelly after he grasped the chance to finally play league football at the age of 25.

From Maidenhead to Solihull Moors, via loan spells with Walton Casuals and Chalfont St Peter, Josh has had to put in the hard yards to earn a crack at the big time.

His journey to SW17 has also involved plenty of graft off the pitch – including working for his brother’s painting and decorating business!

Though he enjoyed combining this with football, Josh is happy to be fully focused now on his number one passion and proving his skills with his feet.

In an interview about the ups and down of his career so far, Josh also revealed how his move to Wimbledon came about, why he was made to feel so welcome here, and his ambitions for the future.

In case you missed it in the matchday programme for Morecambe, the full interview is reproduced in full below. 

What does it mean to you to finally get a chance to play league football?

It’s massive because I’ve been dreaming of this since I was young. I’ve been working for a number of years to get this opportunity and I’m grateful to Wimbledon for giving me the chance.

I had heard about interest from Wimbledon a few months back, and as I’m fairly local I knew a fair bit about the Club. As soon as I spoke with Craig Cope and the manager last month about coming here, it felt like a no-brainer – it was an easy decision.

Craig also played a big part in me moving from Maidenhead to Solihull, so he has been great for me, and I’m aiming to reward that faith.

As soon as I walked through the door at the stadium I was made to feel at home. When I came in to sign at the stadium I met staff behind-the-scenes in the office and everyone made me feel welcome. There was also a great atmosphere when I made my home debut, and I’m determined to do my best for the Club.

You’ve certainly had to be patient for your opportunity, so did you have a lot of faith that you would make it as a professional footballer?

It’s easy to think like that, but you have to go out onto the pitch and show what you are capable of. It’s easy to say, ‘I can do this and that’, but you have to produce on a regular basis to earn a chance in professional football. I’ve had to show what I can do and work hard to get an opportunity in league football. I’ve been in the National League for a few years and now it’s up to me to prove that I can make the step up.

Was your move to Solihull Moors a real turning point in your career?

Yes, because it offered a chance to play football full-time, and it was a step-up for me. Maidenhead finished 15th in the National League, but I moved to Solihull the season after they had lost in the Play-Off Final, so there was more expectancy, and I felt that I had to really show what I could do. In my last season at Maidenhead I scored quite a few goals and I feel that I’ve made progress in the last three years.

Josh.jpg

What are your ambitions for the rest of this season and beyond?

Firstly, I want to help the Club to promotion. I’ve only experienced that once in my career so far – that came when I was on loan at Walton Casuals. I want to do well for myself and the Club.

The atmosphere was great for my home debut against Barrow – I could feel it from the very start. It was very different from what I had been used to – a few more thousand fans for starters! I had about 10 of my family at the game, so I had plenty of support.

I really enjoyed it though and I’m excited to be here. It’s a fantastic new stadium and I can’t wait to play here regularly.

You spent a number of years playing non league football. Did you have a job outside football during this time?

For the first few years I had a job – I was working with my brother doing decorating – because I was part-time when I was at Maidenhead. When I moved to Solihull Moors it was full-time football.

I enjoyed doing the painting and decorating, but I would much rather be a professional footballer! I was brought up in Windsor, so it was a lot of work in the Berkshire area.

Josh and family.jpg

Was it difficult to mix this with the demands of playing football at a high non league level?

It wasn’t too bad, to be fair. The training was three times a week – two mornings and one evening – so I juggled the decorating around that and it wasn’t too strenuous at the time.

Compared to other players who progressed through Academies, it was a different route for me, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Was it always football for you, or did you have any other sports that you pursued?

I played as a kid for youth teams at Windsor and Ascot United - football was always the number one sport for me when I was growing up. I played other sports, but nothing serious, and I always wanted to be a footballer.

I was at Aldershot when they were in the league about 15 years ago, but I wasn’t with any professional clubs as a kid. I progressed from Maidenhead’s youth set-up into the first-team and then onto Solihull.

What would you say are your main strengths as a player?

My pace and getting in behind defences, linking up play, and working as hard as I can to help the team as much as possible.

I have taken bits from all the managers that I’ve played under, each with different styles, so I’ve had to adapt my game. I’ve learned so much everywhere I’ve been and have slowly progressed in my career, so I’m aiming to show what I can do now in league football.


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