Barrhead woman reveals her dad was Michael Parkinson’s childhood hero

Johnny Kelly played as a winger for Barnsley FC, the team Parkinson supported as a young boy growing up in the Yorkshire town.

He began his career at Arthurlie before joining Celtic in 1938 who sold him to Greenock Morton three years later.

His form at Morton won him a big-money move to Barnsley where he spent eight years and won three caps for Scotland including a game against England.

His daughter Joanne Wright, 74, said Parkinson, who died on August 16 at the age of 88, would go and watch Johnny with his own father, whenever they played at home.

Barrhead News: Johnny Kelly, left, and his daughter Joanne Wright, rightJohnny Kelly, left, and his daughter Joanne Wright, right (Image: Supplied)

After he signed in 1945, mum Mima moved to Barnsley with him but didn’t settle and came back to Barrhead after six months.

Johnny would travel home in between games and during the close season to see his family and three children – Alex, Joanne and Margaret.

Joanne, who is a great grandmother, said: “My dad was Michael Parkinson’s hero as a young boy.

“Over the years he has written about him in books, newspaper articles and even mentioned him in interviews.

“He was in awe of my dad and once wrote about how he sat next to him in a bus.

“Parkinson said he always remembered the game when dad got better of the former England manager Alf Ramsey.

“He then joked that was the reason England didn’t play with wingers when they won the World Cup.”

Barrhead News: Johnny Kelly and daughter Joanne WrightJohnny Kelly and daughter Joanne Wright (Image: Supplied)

While in Barnsley, Johnny ran his own bleach-manufacturing business called Kelzone supplying local shops, with Parkinson one of his biggest customers.

He remained at Barnsley for eight years till 1953, before returning home to play for Falkirk and Morton.

He then finished his career with spells at Halifax Town and Portadown in Northern Ireland in 1958.

However, he continued playing football for fun into the 1960s and would carry his football boots in the car on the off chance of getting a game if a team was a man short.

After he retired, he set up his own coal delivery business in Barrhead with his brother and died in 2001 at the age of 79.

In 1992, Parkinson sent him a telegram to mark his 71st birthday.

Cricket umpire Dicky Bird was also a big fan of Johnny Kelly who he has described as his favourite player.

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