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Opinion

A spectacular career after the Toon – Alan Kennedy

1 month ago
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The term or phrase of “When opportunity knocks, don’t knock it”, could have been coined exclusively for Alan Kennedy.

Penshaw born Kennedy decided on Joe Harvey’s exciting Newcastle United as his first port of call and was soon a member of the first team pool at St James Park.

He could basically have been described as Frankie Clark’s young protegè at this time, energetic and strong. Alan was more attack minded though, noted for his regular forays down the left from his full-back position.

Aged 19, Alan played alongside Frank in the 1974 FA Cup final, with the latter swapping over to right-back in the absence of the injured David Craig.

After Clark left on a free transfer to join Nottingham Forest in 1975, Alan Kennedy was one of four survivors from the ’74’ cup final side that played Manchester City in the 1976 League Cup final.

Unfortunately for Gordon Lee’s enterprisingly assembled team, it was to be heartache again.

Newcastle had a disastrous start to the 1977/78 season that would ultimately end in relegation.

Liverpool came in for Alan Kennedy in 1978 and Newcastle found themselves unable to resist a £330,000 bid (a then record for a British full-back).

After the calamitous fiasco at Newcastle United where player power had saw the appointment of the hapless Richard Dinnis, Kennedy must have had to pinch himself at his turn around in fortune.

Alan Kennedy covered himself in personal glory during the next eight years at Anfield.

He had a habit of scoring important goals in big games and in the 1981 European Cup final against Real Madrid, Alan scored the only goal of the game after a trademark surge forward.

Roll onto 1984 and it was Alan Kennedy who scored the winning penalty against Roma, after Bruce Grobbelaar’s “wobbly legs” shenanigans, to win Liverpool’s fourth European Cup in seven years.

England recognition came late for Kennedy but he was eventually capped in the twilight of his career.

There was some talk of him rejoining Newcastle in 1986, but after talking to Bob Paisley, he decided to drop into the second division with Lawrie McMenemy’s Sunderland.

This move turned into a disaster and Sunderland were relegated to the Third Division in 1987.

Alan loved playing and had a 22 year career, playing abroad and finally joining up with Barrow for his swansong.

I bumped into Alan in 1998 in a pub called The Oaks in Chester and we talked football over a couple of pints. He was friendly and there were no airs and graces whatsoever.

He obviously still had fond memories of his time at Newcastle, but he also acknowledged his affinity to Liverpool….where quite rightfully he is treat like a hero.

I asked him why he hadn’t gone back to Newcastle and he confided in me it would have been a much better move.

He said that Hetton le Hole born and Sunderland fan Bob Paisley, had convinced him to join the mackems because….”If he joined Newcastle, the fans would be disappointed if he wasn’t as good as in his first spell at the club”.

Alan Kennedy won five League Championship medals, four League Cups and two European Cups when at Anfield and scored in four of the six finals.

He is now 67 years old and will always be fondly remembered by Geordies of a certain vintage.

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