Lightbourne open to Walsall return
Robin Hood coach Kyle Lightbourne returned this week from a successful, brief coaching stint at one of his former clubs, Walsall, and if finances permit would love to rejoin the club in that capacity.
Lightbourne went to the club early last month in a coaching role until the end of the season, helping out manager Dean Smith who was briefly a teammate in the mid-1990s when Lightbourne spent four years at the club, scoring 65 goals in 165 appearances and earning the nickname ‘Killer’ from the Walsall fans for his goalscoring exploits.
“It really went well, but it’s disappointing the team didn’t make it to the play-offs,” said Lightbourne.
“In the end it was probably too many draws for them. When I got there they won the Coventry game 4-0 and they only lost one game, the last game of the season against Crewe while the rest were draws (Sheffield Wednesday, Scunthorpe and Bury, all 1-1).”
Walsall finished ninth in the League one tables, just outside the play-off places, but it was a good turnaround for the club after sitting in 18th place in December.
“My position was a coach and I used to take the sessions at times and coached the reserves as well,” Lightbourne said of his role. “I was more sitting in the stands and looking at it from a different angle for the manager and used to train the forwards as well.
“It was quite intense, in early and finishing quite late, especially if there were reserve games in the evening. We had about eight reserve games during that time, about two a week to catch up. They definitely needed extra hands at that time. Speaking with the manager he definitely enjoyed me being there.”
Lightbourne thinks Walsall have a team that could be pushing for promotion next season. They are in the same division as Crawley who have Bermudian Jonte Smith on their books, while Nahki Wells is hoping to secure promotion to that division with Bradford in next weekend’s playoff final at Wembley.
“People still remember me there, people saw me going on the field for the warm-ups before the game and certain fans were singing my name,” said Lightbourne. “It’s a very friendly club and being there was an opportunity for me to grow as a coach as well. I felt I learned a lot of things about myself on this trip.”
Lightbourne has seen a difference in the way clubs in the lower divisions conduct their training compared to when he was a player. “They control everything that the players eat when they are in that environment,” he explained.
“The physio has a big job and controls two meals a day for them, they have a full-time cook and he knows what they are putting in before training and after training. I experienced that at Stoke when the Icelandic owners were there and introduced all those different methods of fitness. Now all the clubs have this.
”We used to get weighed once or twice a week, now they weight themselves before they go training and right after training, so they know how much fluid they lost during that session and it ties in to their diet.”