Finest post-War left-back?

The Chronicle - - Nostalgia -

WHO was New­cas­tle United’s finest post-War left-back?

1950s FA Cup hero, Alf McMichael? 1960s and ‘70s stal­wart, Frank Clark? Or was it the ram­pag­ing Alan Kennedy?

The for­mer Mag­pie, pic­tured, was born in Sun­der­land on this day in 1954 and turns 63 to­day.

Ar­riv­ing as a ju­nior in July 1971, Kennedy turned pro at Gal­low­gate in Septem­ber the fol­low­ing year.

The young­ster’s de­but came against Stoke City in March, 1973 in a 1-0 home vic­tory over Stoke City, cour­tesy of a Mal­colm Mac­don­ald goal.

The left-back would even­tu­ally re­place Frank Clark in that po­si­tion.

The pair were very dif­fer­ent play­ers. Warhorse Clark was solid and de­pend­able, while Kennedy’s sear­ing pace saw him go on thrilling at­tack­ing runs into en­emy territory.

With ‘Budgie’ Kennedy in the same team as Su­per­mac and fly­ing winger Ste­wart Bar­row­clough, mid-70s New­cas­tle United had pace to burn.

Nine­teen-year-old Alan played for the Mag­pies in the ill-fated 1974 FA Cup fi­nal at Wem­b­ley. United were aw­ful, but the vic­to­ri­ous op­po­nents that day – Liver­pool – clearly noted the speedy and tena­cious New­cas­tle num­ber three.

Over the next four years, Kennedy was one of United’s best per­form­ers dur­ing a time when the club reached the League Cup fi­nal in 1976, and fin­ished fifth the fol­low­ing year - the club’s best plac­ing since 1950-51.

It was the im­plo­sion and even­tual rel­e­ga­tion dur­ing the dis­as­trous 1977-78 cam­paign which led to Kennedy’s £330,000 trans­fer to Liver­pool, a move which broke fans’ hearts on Tyneside.

He had ap­peared 215 times for the Toon, scor­ing 10 goals.

Kennedy would fa­mously be­come part of one of English foot­ball’s great­est ever teams, win­ning five league ti­tles and two Euro­pean Cups – he scored in both finals – be­tween 1978 and ‘86 at An­field. In 1986, he nearly re­joined United but opted for Sun­der­land who were promptly rel­e­gated to the Third Divi­sion.

He kicked his last ball in anger for non-league Bar­row in 1996.

To­day Alan is a Merseyside­based ra­dio pun­dit and af­ter­dinner speaker.

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