A former Liverpool player who appeared briefly in their historic 2005 UEFA Champions League-winning run, John Welsh has had to battle around the lower echelons of the Football League during his career.
A spell at Hull City which was blighted by injury was then followed up by a successful three-year stint at Tranmere Rovers, before his exploits at the Wirral club were noticed by Graham Westley and Preston North End, where he joined in the summer of 2012.
Welsh became a cult figure at Deepdale during his six years at the club, becoming the captain very quickly and also winning the Player of the Year award in his first season.
As North End moved up into the Championship though in 2015, Welsh became less and less of a figure on the pitch, making 24 appearances in his first season in the second tier for eight years since his Hull days, but he was then reduced to a bit-part role before departing on a free in 2018.
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The tough-tackling midfielder found a new team in the same summer he departed, joining League Two side Grimsby Town on a two-year deal and was named as captain upon arrival.
His time at the Mariners wasn’t successful though. After starting nine of the opening 10 league games, Welsh was dropped and made only a few more cameo appearances before being released in March 2019.
It came just before Welsh pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm in court, but the midfielder told the ‘I Had Trials Once’ podcast (via Grimsby Telegraph) that it was also the distance between Grimsby and his Liverpool home that played a part in his departure.
Welsh has been trying to rebuild himself since his conviction, and dropped into non-league in October 2019 by signing for Northern Premier League side Atherton Colleries.
In the previous summer, Welsh penned a deal with another non-league team a bit further away from home – Stafford Rangers – and was playing for them up until COVID-19 outbreaks forced postponements.
It remains to be seen what happens with Welsh next season – he is now 37 years old and there’s no real knowledge of how much he’s got left in the tank – but Preston fans especially will probably be surprised to see that Welsh dropped into non-league so quickly after leaving the club.