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Ray Kennedy

Ray Kennedy
Personal information
Full name Raymond Kennedy
Date of birth (1951-07-28) 28 July 1951
Place of birth Seaton Delaval, England, UK
Playing position Midfielder/Centre forward
Youth career
1966–1967 Port Vale
1967–1968 New Hartley Juniors
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1968–1974 Arsenal 158 (53)
1974–1982 Liverpool 275 (51)
1982–1983 Swansea 42 (2)
1983–1984 Hartlepool 23 (3)
Total 498 (109)
National team
1976–1980 England 17 (3)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Raymond Kennedy (born 28 July 1951) is an English former football player who won every domestic honour in the game with Arsenal and Liverpool in the 1970s and early 1980s. He played as both a midfielder and a forward, and scored 109 goals in 498 league games; and also won 17 caps for England, scoring three international goals.

Rejected by Port Vale, he eventually turned professional with Arsenal in 1968. He spent the next six years with the club, helping them to a League and FA Cup Double in 1971. He also won a Fairs Cup medal, and a league and FA Cup runners-up medal before signing for Liverpool for a £180,000 fee in 1974. He spent the next eight years with the club, helping them to five league titles, three European Cup triumphs, as well as trophies in the UEFA Cup, Super Cup, and League Cup, and an additional four Charity Shield victories. During this time he also added a runners-up medal in the league, FA Cup, League Cup, Super Cup, and World Club Championship to his trophy cabinet. Sold on to Swansea for £160,000 in 1982, he added a Welsh Cup winners medal to his collection before moving on to Hartlepool in 1983. He retired from the game in 1984 at the age of 32, having already started to feel the effects of Parkinson's disease.


  • Early life 1
  • Club career 2
    • Arsenal 2.1
    • Liverpool 2.2
    • Swansea 2.3
  • International career 3
  • Retirement 4
  • Honours 5
    • Club 5.1
  • Footnotes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Kennedy was born at Seaton Delaval, Northumberland.

He trained as an apprentice with Port Vale, but at the age of sixteen was told by manager Stanley Matthews that he was "too slow to be a footballer".[1] Considered to be too big and clumsy to be a professional, groundskeeper Dennis Dawson claimed that he was the only man at the club to see any potential in the youngster.[2] Dawson also told how Kennedy was released by the club after he was told "You will never make a pro as long as you have got a hole in your arse!".[2] Kennedy returned to his native north-east and started playing as an amateur for New Hartley Juniors and working in a sweet factory.

Club career


Kennedy was spotted by a scout for Arsenal, who signed him in 1968. A year later he made his first team debut on 29 September 1969, against Glentoran in the 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup; that season Arsenal progressed to the competition's final and the young Kennedy had a starring role, coming on as a substitute in the first leg, with Arsenal losing 3–1 to Anderlecht, Kennedy scored a crucial late goal. Arsenal completed the comeback in the second leg with a 3–0 win at Highbury, and won 4–3 on aggregate; it was their first European trophy.

Kennedy had only played six times in 1969–70, but the following season (1970–71) he only missed one game in all competitions, as part of the Arsenal side which became only the second in the 20th century to win the coveted Double of League Championship and FA Cup. A tight, dramatic finale to the title race saw Kennedy score the only goal of the game against Arsenal's fiercest rivals Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane to secure the title for Arsenal, their first since 1952–53. Five days later, Arsenal beat Liverpool 2–1 after extra time to win the FA Cup. Kennedy didn't score in the final, but did end the season with 27 goals, making him the club's top scorer.

Arsenal returned to Wembley to defend the FA Cup the following season but lost 1–0 to Leeds United; Kennedy came on as a substitute for John Radford but was unable to net the equaliser; he still finished as Arsenal's top scorer for 1971–72, scoring 19 goals. For the next two seasons he continued to be a regular for Arsenal, scoring consistently (and finishing as top scorer again in 1973–74) but did not win another trophy as the Double-winning side was slowly broken up.


After the end of the 1973–74 season, Kennedy was sold to Liverpool for £180,000. Whilst it is widely believed that he was the last signing made by manager Bill Shankly, Shankly had actually announced his retirement earlier that same day. Kennedy was actually signed by then chairman Sir John Wilson Smith.

Ray made his Liverpool debut in a league match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 31 August 1974, it took Kennedy just 22 minutes to open his goalscoring account as the Reds went on to comfortably beat the Londoners 3–0.

Despite his ability as a striker, Kennedy's chances to play in his favoured centre forward role at Liverpool were restricted due to the presence of the prolific Kevin Keegan and John Toshack. Shankly's successor Bob Paisley, however, had other plans for Kennedy. Giving him the number 5 shirt, Paisley converted the burly striker into a cultured attacking midfield player, based on the left flank, Kennedy flourished in this role for the rest of the decade. Indeed, his form was so good, that Jimmy Greaves later described Kennedy as 'the player of the seventies'.

With Liverpool, Kennedy won the League title and UEFA Cup in 1975–76, scoring in the final of the latter. The following season, he came close to equalling his Double achievements with Arsenal when Liverpool ventured to Wembley for the FA Cup final having already regained their title. Victory over Manchester United would make Kennedy the first player to win the Double with two different clubs, but Liverpool lost the game 2–1. Kennedy nearly forced extra time in the last minute when his long-range shot hit the crossbar.

With dreams of the traditional Double gone, Liverpool went to Rome to contest their first European Cup final against Borussia Mönchengladbach and won the game 3–1, earning Kennedy his third European honour. Kennedy and Liverpool retained the trophy the following year and again in 1980–81 (in which he scored the decisive away goal against Bayern Munich in the European Cup semi-final), while also winning the two more League crowns and their first League Cup.


After the emergence of young midfielder Ronnie Whelan in 1981, Kennedy left Liverpool (having played enough games to guarantee a final title medal) for £160,000 in January 1982 to join the renaissance of Swansea City under his former team-mate Toshack, who had previously recruited fellow Liverpool legends Tommy Smith and Ian Callaghan. He made his Swans debut on 30 January 1982 at the Vetch Field, Manchester United were the visitors and were seen off by 2 goals to nil.

Kennedy's spell at Swansea ended acrimoniously, with Toshack accusing Kennedy publicly of not trying, when the truth was that Parkinson's disease was setting in. Kennedy tried to resume his career in his native north-east at Hartlepool United joining them in November 1983, but his condition worsened and he was forced to retire in 1984 just before his 33rd birthday. He wrote Hartlepool's application letter for re-election to the Football League in 1983–84 which may have helped them to survive. His condition was finally confirmed by a specialist when he was 35.

International career

Kennedy won his first of 17 caps for England as a left sided midfielder. He never played as an orthodox centre forward again. Kennedy though was forced to compete with Trevor Brooking for the left midfield role, and believed England manager Ron Greenwood favoured his old West Ham protege Brooking. The Liverpool man also believed that his influential old Liverpool colleague and then England skipper, Kevin Keegan, preferred Brooking in the side, and these two factors played a large part in Kennedy informing Greenwood he no longer wished to play for England in late 1980.

Don Revie gave Kennedy his first cap on 24 March 1976 in a friendly with Wales at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, Kennedy scored the opening goal as England won the game 2–1.


Kennedy's only work in football after he finished playing was a brief spell at Sunderland as a coach. He has spent the majority of life since retirement and diagnosis working towards publicising and raising funds for the research and treatment of Parkinson's. Arsenal and Liverpool played each other in a testimonial game at Highbury in 1991 to raise money for the cause, 18,000 turned out to support the cause.

Ray Kennedy published his autobiography "Ray of Hope" in 1993, co-authored by Dr. Andrew Lees who at that time treated Ray for Parkinson's disease.

To this day Kennedy lives a quiet, homebound life with decreased mobility and a dependency on drugs to control the discomfort of his condition. He had to sell his medals, caps, shirts and other memorabilia after falling on financially hard times. The "Ray of Hope Appeal", organised by three Liverpool fans Karl Coppack, Stephen Hinds and Matthew Anton to help Kennedy, was featured in the Daily Mirror on 26 January 2008.[3]

Kennedy is still a favourite amongst Liverpool supporters, and was voted in at No.28 on the 2006 poll 100 Players Who Shook The Kop,[4] and at No.25 when the poll was ran again in 2013.[5]



Swansea City


  1. ^ Sherwin, Phil (2010). The Port Vale Miscellany. Brimscombe Port: The History Press. p. 16.  
  2. ^ a b Kent, Jeff (December 1991). Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories. Witan Books. p. 98.  
  3. ^ Please give brave Kennedy a Ray of hope Daily Mirror
  4. ^ Official Liverpool Football Club website
  5. ^ Shaw, Chris (18 July 2013). "100PWSTK: 25. Ray Kennedy". Official Liverpool Football Club website. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 


  • Harris, Jeff & Hogg, Tony (ed.) (1995). Arsenal Who's Who. Independent UK Sports.  
  • "Ray Kennedy Interview". Liverpool FC Official Website. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 

External links

  • player profile
  • Forgotten Heroes
  • Statistics from Gunnermania at the Wayback Machine (archived July 26, 2011)
  • Kennedy: Still a Ray of Sunshine (by Karl Coppack)
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