Player Profile #4
Born: June 24th, 1985 in Bury
Position: Left back
I remember when Tom Kennedy came to the club; Alan Goodall hadn’t signed a contract following the 06/07 season, (the season Parkin went, Hillcroft came and we beat Stockport 7-2) despite being almost ever-present and performing well at both left-back and centre-back. Or perhaps that’s why he didn’t sign the contract. Whichever way, we needed a new left-back in to replace the inevitably outbound Goodall, who was off to Luton Town in League One. And then this lad Tom Kennedy fell out with Chris Casper the other side of Heywood. The timing was perfect.
The exact reasons for Kennedy and Casper’s disagreement were laid bare by an unofficial interview Kennedy did with the Bury Rivals’ website Y3K Shakers, in which he blamed Casper for Bury’s poor league position and all-round failure. At least that’s how I remember it – the interview was censored a few days after publication and isn’t available anywhere on the web as far as extensive Google search goes. But, for whatever reasons, Kennedy’s position at Bury became untenable and he was refused a new contract for the 07/08 season. So Bury had just released their left-back and our’s was on his way out. The timing, oh yes, was perfect.
Step forward Dave Flitcroft, the recently arrived assistant manager – from that team Bury FC again. Having coached Kennedy just five months earlier, Flickers didn’t have to try to hard to persuade him to join the revolution forming just down the road at Spotland. Kennedy signed a two year contract and ever since he’s been our first choice left-back.
Kennedy might just be our best player, thinking about it. He could fairly comfortably slot into most teams in the division above and possibly the one above that. He has pace, skill on the ball, and rarely makes a wrong decision defensively. He also has this knack of squirming away from his marker despite it looking impossible to. As official RAFC site reporter Mike Brooks said on the commentary away at Wycombe; “He sometimes gives you kittens, but he always comes away with it.” And all this for a guy bitter Bury fans said was only “okay”.
Tom Kennedy’s first season at Spotland was a huge success, and he took no time in winning over the slight minority of Dale fans who questioned his Bury background. Alan who?! Tom even managed to score a couple, a last-minute match-winning penalty against Wycombe Wanderers in January and a piece of class against Chester City in which he skinned four before tucking it past the City keeper (the match finished four-nil to us).
This season has seen much of the same from Kennedy, and he recently won the club’s “Greatest Ever Left-Back” award on unofficial site RochdaleAFC.com. This from a man who has played one and a half seasons at the club and played before that for our bitterest rivals. It was with relief and delight then that the news came that had Tom signed a new contract until June 2010 in February. That means another year of exemplary full-backery at least. It was probably the biggest signing of the transfer window.
He also has scored this season, four in total including an ecstasy-inducing last-minute free kick against Chesterfield and a winning penalty against Macclesfield, both vital goals which have turned draws into wins.
The future of Tom Kennedy might not be with the Dale; he is probably “too good” for us, in the same way Perkins, Murray and Lambert were. But – we have him for next year whether that be in Division Three or Four. And with TK at left-back, the answer is far more likely to be the former than the latter.
Written by Matt Boothman on 22/3/09