Finest post-War left-back?
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.