Byline: Garry Doyle CHIEF SOCCER WRITER
BRIAN Shelley was living off just e50-a-week last season.
Home from Carlisle and at a loose end, Shelley accepted the offer from Shamrock Rovers because it was the only one he had.
But with a family to feed and a life to live, e50 was hardly going to pay the bills, leaving Shelley to dip into his piggy bank and use up his savings.
If he has regrets about what happened, he does a good job hiding them - but then Shelley has always been the sort to look at the bigger picture.
He says: "Nobody believes me when I tell them that I was on that sort of money but that was the reality.
"Rovers could only afford to give me expenses and I wasn't in much of a position to turn them down because I was home from England and I just wanted to stay in the frame.
"The way I was looking at things, I knew that if I did my job well then I'd get the recognition for that and in the end that's what happened with Drogheda taking a chance on me."
The contrast between then and now is stark. From taking home e50-a-week, Shelley has multiplied his earnings and is a lot less stressed about looking after his girlfriend and four-year-old daughter.
On the park, things are going better than ever for the former Irish Under-21 international, whose arrival in Drogheda has come via a circuitous route.
He was 18 when he made his debut for Bohemians in a Uefa Cup match against Kaiserslautern six years ago, but a year would elapse before he became a regular in the side.
But back then Bohemians were changing managers as often as Jodie Marsh changes boyfriends and while Shelley's face fitted into Peter Mahon's plans, it wasn't part of Stephen Kenny's.
So he moved on - to Longford for a brief spell - before Roddy Collins took the plunge and offered him a three-year-deal at Carlisle.
Shelley says: "Moving to England was a very tough decision at the time because my girlfriend was pregnant when Roddy Collins offered me the contract.
"But we talked things over and she agreed that it was too good an opportunity to turn down and that we'd all move over.
"And I've no regrets about doing so. When I was younger, a lot of my mates from my schoolboy side got to play in England. Andy Reid was one. And there were others.
"But I didn't leave until I was 20 and every Irish kid will take the opportunity if they are offered it.
"Plus you have to look at things practically. Carlisle gave me a good contract and I managed to buy a house out of that and get some security for my family."
In football, though, there is precious little …