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Meet my very Special Guest, Article, and Story of My UK Friend and Loud Advocate -Tony Kelly …
I have been blessed to have many several former professional pro sports friends who maintain recovery like myself and Tony as we are Loud Advocates in sharing help and hope to others looking to recover too! Tony is one of those advocates in the UK and through his Red Card organization.
Tony and I meet through social media and due to his book about his gambling addiction and recovery. It is an amazing book to read as he gives an in-depth look at how Sports Pro’s can and have become addicted or have a problem with gambling and with other types of addictions like my friends former NLF pro’s Randy Grimes and Vance Johnson and several others. We Do Recover! ~Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author/Advocate
Tony Kelly’s amazing comeback, Man Utd in Valencia, Chelsea fans … JEREMY CROSS COLUMN …UK Daily Star
“TONY KELLY’S life once sunk so low that he plotted to rob a bank.”
“Tony became the youngest ever player in the Bristol City first team at the age of 16 before being snapped up as a pro by Stoke City. His career spanned from the highs of scoring a last-minute goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the 1991 League Cup to the lows of suffering from racial abuse. Despite hanging up his boots in 1999, at the age of 35, his gambling demons were still a part of his life as nothing had prepared him for how to deal with his addiction.”
Daily Star – Dec. 17th, 2018 – By Jeremy Cross
He sat down with his brother, of all people, to pick the branch he intended to steal from, the tools he would use (a knife) and what was the best time to strike.
And the reason for contemplating such utter madness? Gambling.
It had taken such a tight grip on him that he felt he had no other option but to take desperate steps to settle some of his debts.
Chances are he won’t be alone in having reached such a low point.
But what makes Kelly’s story particularly worth hearing, is that he has not only survived his addiction, but he is now using his experiences to educate others on the perils and dangers of a problem that is like cancer sweeping through society.
Last month, this column examined the role of gambling in sport and took to task golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for their vulgar head-to-head in Las Vegas.
That prompted Kelly to get in touch and this column makes no apology for returning to the subject.
He was once a professional footballer with a bright future. Alan Ball signed him for Stoke and he had the potential to have it all.
But instead, he blew it – $500,000 to be precise.
As well as the money, he also lost his partner and children, was forced to declare himself bankrupt in 2010 and was verging on suicidal.
In the end, his faith saved him and the devout Christian has used his second chance in life to become a power of good, steering youngsters away from the path he once trod.
With lottery funding, Kelly and his eight-strong team that includes addiction specialists, have been able to stage regular workshops for schools and other organizations across London, aimed at promoting gambling awareness and educating people about the dangers.
Earlier this month he met with Marc Etches, chief executive officer of ‘GambleAware’ to see if the two organizations could work in tandem to lobby the Government about the unacceptable levels of betting advertising in and around football.
He also took the trouble to voice his concerns with a leading betting firm and thought he had held constructive talks, but hasn’t heard a peep back from them since.
Kelly pulls no punches when it comes to talking about his problems and the potential ones facing those who think gambling is nothing more than a bit of fun.
“I was in denial. I felt like an embarrassment and didn’t know if there was any help out there for me.”
“Somehow I survived. The turning point was the plan to rob a bank and speaking with my brother and sister. Looking back now, it sounds absolutely crazy, but at the time I just thought ‘how the hell am I going to get out of this?’
“I guess I wasn’t meant to go down that road. I regained my faith, got christened, spoke to therapists, decided to write the book and then set-up the Project to stage the workshops.
“I feel lucky to be able to do this. People try to commit suicide because of gambling every single day. You feel so isolated and alone. These days the slogan is ‘when the fun stops, stop’, but people can’t stop. That’s the problem.”
The point is that those today with problems like he once had are not alone.
Kelly speaks to kids as young as 11 and knows children and teenagers are the most vulnerable.
He added: “Football stars are their heroes. But with all the advertising at grounds and on shirts, kids are being exposed to something. They have no idea of what the ramifications of gambling can be.
“They have sites right there on apps on their phones, while advertising isn’t regulated properly.
“All the promotion and advertising of gambling needs to be scaled down. There has to be a balance. It all boils down to awareness.”
Kelly has just applied for the second round of £10,000 funding from the Lottery, is hoping to get some financial backing from ‘GambleAware’ and has set his sights on taking his workshops around the UK.
As a reminder of where he’s come from, he still carries with him his bankruptcy files from when he stood ashamed in the High Court.
It was a long, dark tunnel but Kelly has transformed himself from a failure to an inspiration . . .
For more details go to kellysredcardconsultancy.co.uk
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