The great oversight of the Championship awards shortlist – Neil Kelly

When the Championship end of season awards shortlists were revealed on Monday, there was one glaring absence in the Coach of the Year category.

That man was the current coach of Dewsbury Rams, Neil Kelly.

Kelly has been overlooked for the award despite a near miraculous revival of the Rams under his watch.

The three-man shortlist for the award features three coaches who have also done superbly well this year.

Tim Sheens has guided Hull KR to the cusp of promotion, London chief, Andrew Henderson, has made the London Broncos a viable contender for promotion while Richard Marshall masterminded a top four finish for Halifax against all the odds.

But it can be argued that Kelly’s accomplishments since his appointment in May surpass those of any other coach in the game this season, yet alone just the Championship.

When he arrived at the club, Kelly was left with an impossible job in the eyes of many. They had lost their opening eight league games and were comfortably adrift in the relegation zone.


However, an absolutely incredible turnaround would follow.

The Rams went on an outstanding run of form that saw them win eight of their next 15 games, which included five wins in their final six of the regular season.

Suddenly, Dewsbury had gone from relegation certainties to mid-table, and instead of contemplating life in League 1, they were chasing a place in the Championship Shield play-offs.

And that they have done. After mauling Rochdale Hornets, they subsequently beat red-hot favourites Toulouse, who only just missed out on the Qualifiers, for the second time under Kelly.

They are now comfortably rid of the fear of relegation and are instead focusing their efforts on the Championship Shield.

The enormity of the success is huge, and for that not to be recognised with an individual accolade is incredibly harsh indeed.

Neil Kelly may not receive a major honour later this month, but there’s little doubting the size of his triumph this year.