STANLEY RETURN IS KEE FOR BILLY
LESS than two years ago Billy Kee was labelled the best striker outside of the Championship – yet this summer he nearly hung up his boots at the age of 24.
But with the chance to score goals again for Accrington Stanley – the club with which he opened his senior account – the former Northern Ireland U21 international is ready to rekindle his love with the game once more.
Kee penned a 12-month deal to join Stanley this summer and begin his second spell at the Crown Ground, where he first burst onto the scene as a teenager hitting nine goals during a season-long loan from Leicester.
After scoring for fun at Burton, where he earned widespread acclaim, a move to League One followed a year ago, but Kee did not make a league start for Scunthorpe.
By his own admission, Kee does not take kindly to being out of the team and, rather than take his Glanford Park nightmare on the chin and move on, he was contemplating giving the game up altogether.
But after a lot of soulsearching Kee is glad he decided to continue.
“It feels good to be back. I had a few issues last year and I was ready to give it up, to join my dad, Terry, in the building trade, but (Accrington boss) John Coleman talked me round,” he said.
“It’s the toughest time I’ve had in the game and it was a learning curve.
“I wasn’t enjoying my football, but my dad and brother, Thomas, said I should stick at it. They were right, of course, because it is the best job in the world.
“I just want to enjoy my football again. I’ve only got this job for another ten years and I find it hard to be left out of the squad.
“But I had a good break, I spent some time away, and now I’m determined to enjoy every minute. I want to be positive this year.
“I could have gone parttime and got the same money, you have to look at these things. But I know the day you drop out of the game it becomes very difficult to get back into it. After two months off I changed my mind.
“I had a few other offers, but my wife is from up here, so it was where I wanted to be.”
Stanley fans probably avoid trips to the bookmakers in August, with their side frequently the favourites to be relegated from League Two, just as they are again this term.
But a healthy pre-season campaign and freshening up of the squad has Kee believing his new club will do more than just make up the numbers.
“I can see why we get tipped, because we have one of the smallest budgets, the budget will never be there at Accrington,” he added.
“But people like me and (fellow striker) Terry Gornell, we are here to play football, not for money.
“I have been in the league for six years and in play-off teams for four of those and I know we are not far off. If we can get the right togetherness we will do very well this year.
“I don’t think we’ll be the surprise package, because I think teams will have taken notice of what we’re doing, they won’t be surprised.
“We got wins in preseason against teams like Burnley and Rochdale, we scored goals, picked up clean sheets. We’ll be all right for sure.”
FIRST TIME: Billy Kee in action for Accrington Stanley against Notts County in 2009-10