Coconuts was sorry to hear of the death early today in Kota Kinabulu, Malaysia, at the age of 78, of former Cambridge United manager Ken Shellito.
A former player and manager with Chelsea, and the possessor of one England cap, east Londoner Shellito followed his brief spell at the Abbey Stadium with a successful coaching career in Malaysia, where he spent the latter part of his life.
Born in East Ham, he featured as a full back in Chelsea's FA Youth Cup-winning squad of 1958 and made his league debut a year later. He was part of the Tommy Docherty-managed Chelsea side of the early 60s that won promotion to Division One, and played for England against Czechoslovakia in 1963.
National manager Alf Ramsey had Shellito in mind for his 1966 World Cup squad, but a serious knee injury forced him into retirement at the age of 28. He had made 123 appearances and scored two goals for the Pensioners.
He became youth team coach, then youth manager, at Chelsea before being appointed first-team manager in 1977. He resigned in December 1978 after a 23-year stay at Stamford Bridge.
He worked as assistant to Docherty at QPR and Preston and to Alan Mullery at Crystal Palace before spending a year running a coaching school in Dallas, Texas. He then turned down the chance of rejoining Docherty at Wolves because he wanted a manager’s job of his own.
Shellito succeeded John Ryan as U’s manager on 15 March 1985, at a time when the club was in the middle of a rapid descent through the divisions from Two to Four. Chairman David Ruston said he believed the board had appointed a man who could stabilise the club.
He resigned on 6 December 1985, saying he had become disillusioned with football. ‘I’ve been in soccer as a player and manager for 30 years, but now I’m turning my back on it,’ he added. ‘I have no plans at the moment, but it will be a different way of life. There is a big cloud over football. There is no bubble and bounce any more.’
Happily, his subsequent career in Malaysia restored Shellito’s enjoyment of the game. He coached at Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Sabah, served as Selangor's coaching director and also worked as a match analyst for the Asian Football Confederation.
He died on 31 October 2018 following hospital treatment for a lung infection and kidney complications. He leaves wife Jeany and two daughters.