Ray Kennedy


Ray Kennedy : biography

28 July 1951 –


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.


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". 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. 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!". Kennedy returned to his native north-east and started playing as an amateur for New Hartley Juniors and working in a sweet factory.


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. Daily Mirror

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.