Ray Kennedy

Raymond Kennedy was born 28 July 1951.  He was part of our double winning team of 1970/71 playing alongside Radford.

His first bizarre “honour” came when he was rejected by Stanley Matthews, when he was manager at Port Vale as an apprentice.  He was told at the age of 16 that he was “too slow to be a footballer”.  He returned to the north-east, played amateur football and worked in a sweet factory before being spotted two years later by an Arsenal scout.

He signed that year and one year later (29 September 1969) he played his first game for Arsenal in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup.  In the first leg of the final of the Cup he scored the away goal in the 3-1 defeat.

The following season with Charlie George injured he played every game except one in the FA Cup, League and Fairs Cup, and scored the goal that won the league at White Hart Lane for the first time.  That season with 27 goals he was the top scorer as he was the following season with 19 goals.

Season Lge Games Lge Goals Achievements
1969/70 2 + 2 sub 1 Won Euro Fairs Cup
1970/71 41 19 Won League and Cup
1971/72 37 12 FA Cup finalists
1972/73 34 9 League runners cup
1973/74 42 12
Total 156 + 2 53

Now at this point my notes have a gap.  Why did he leave the club that had rescued him from oblivion.   It is said in some articles that he was clearly running out of steam and was overweight, and so Mee decided to break up the Double winning side.

In the summer of 1974, Kennedy was sold to Liverpool for £180,000.   He was a significant success there, so Mee got it wrong, if his view was that Kennedy was finished.  Liverpool transferred him to being a midfielder, and he was a success.  Just look at his appearance level in the league for his final season at Arsenal – a full house.

After he finished playing football he worked as a coach for Sunderland but was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and has not worked since.   Arsenal and Liverpool played a testimonial game at Highbury in 1991 to raise money for research into Parkinson’s.

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4 Replies to “Ray Kennedy”

  1. I always regarded Ray’s departure from Arsenal to Liverpool as a grievous error. Liverpool saw in him what Bertie Mee didn’t, namely, a new beginning as a midfielder and so it turned out. Seventeen England caps speaks for itself.

  2. Arsenal finished 3rd in 1981, 7 points behind winners Aston Villa. (Still 2 points for a win.) Now, imagine this starting XI, with their ages for most of the ’80-’81 season:

    1 Pat Jennings 35 but still pretty good
    2 Pat Rice 32 (instead of John Devine 22)
    3 Sammy Nelson 32
    4 Brian Talbot 27
    5 David O’Leary 22
    6 Willie Young 29
    7 Liam Brady 25 (instead of Brian McDermott 19)
    8 Alan Sunderland 26
    9 Frank Stapleton 24
    10 Ray Kennedy 29 (instead of David Price 25)
    11 Graham Rix 23

    With Charlie George, still only 30, coming on as a late sub (12).

    If Bertie Mee had kept Charlie and Ray, worked out whatever differences they had, he would’ve survived the 1976 offseason, there might have been more than just the 1 FA Cup in that period, and who knows. Villa and Ipswich finished ahead of Arsenal in 1980-81: While we beat Ipswich away on April 18 (a big blow for them down the stretch), we only managed a draw against them at home, just 1 day after a draw to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day; and we actually beat Villa on the final day, although drew with them away in November. Arsenal won 7 and drew 1 of their last 8, the real killer was a stretch from October 7 to 25 with 3 draws & a loss in 5 games. Who knows.

  3. Am currently re-reading ‘Ray of Hope’: Sincerely hope that Ray is keeping well in these difficult times

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