Kennedy: Bally ended my time at Pompey but was a great manager

Signed by Alan Ball, sold by Alan Ball, 149 matches played under Alan Ball.

Sunday, 4th March 2018, 6:00 pm
Former Pompey manager Alan Ball

Mick Kennedy worked with one manager during his three-and-a-half seasons at Fratton – and it was a relationship he revelled in.

Recruited from Middlesbrough in June 1984, the midfielder represented Ball’s third signing as Blues boss, having taken over from Bobby Campbell permanently.

Kennedy would go on to become Pompey skipper for a period of his south coast stay and developed a bond with his manager.

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And it was only through John Deacon’s desire to cash in on him with a transfer to Bradford in January 1988 that it was brought to a halt.

Kennedy said: ‘Bally kept us all going for three years – and it is very hard to keep a team together for that long.

‘When you finish fourth and fourth and come back for a third year then that’s tough, but we did and it was for him.

‘Thank God we did because he died too soon, poor man.

‘Bally was a great manager because he was tough when he wanted to be tough, horrible when he wanted to be horrible, a top man when he wanted to be a top man.

‘Usually, he was as good as gold with us, but if we put a foot out of turn, he came right down on us.

‘I didn’t keep in touch with him after I was sold to Bradford in January 1988.

‘The deal was sorted and I had arranged to meet him that evening. Funnily enough, I was getting a lift with Kenny Swain, who was driving up to Liverpool.

‘I went into the office and Bally told me there was a phone call coming through for me.

‘I replied “Who?”, I wasn’t happy with leaving anyway. He told me Manchester City wanted to talk and were prepared to match the contract with Bradford.

‘Then Bally handed me the phone and I said “Good luck, see you later” and passed the phone back.

‘The last time I spoke to him was October 1988, when Pompey visited Bradford in Division Two.

‘We won 2-1, with Lee Sinnott scoring from 25 yards, and Bally came over, we shook each others’ hand, but I didn’t see him in the bar or anything afterwards. It was a long trip home for them.

‘It was nice seeing him again, there were no bad feelings with Bally ever, I got on great with him.’

Ball, of course, helped develop an excellent team spirit within a close-knit squad.

And Kennedy is convinced long coach journeys also assisted in that Pompey togetherness.

He added: ‘We had a hiccup here and there, but on a regular basis were steady at home.

‘For away trips, we had 6-7 hours on a bus, which was great for the players.

‘As captain, on the way back from matches the lads would be looking at me so I’d have to go up to the gaffer and ask if it was okay to stop and get a couple of beers.

‘He’d say “Yes, that’s all right, Mick, get me two bottles of red wine and two cigars as well”.

‘As long as I got him that he didn’t give a fig.

‘Also on the coach would be Pompey director Jim Sloan, who was an absolute character.

‘Do you know something about him, he never left me alone on the bus. He used to get drunk at the front of the bus with Bally and end up at the back with me and Knightsie.

‘He would say “My two favourite men, put your arm here, Kennedy”. I’d reply “Jim, will you stop calling me Kennedy and call me Mick?”.

‘Sloan would say: “Sign of respect, son, sign of respect”.

‘There were also a great bunch of kids there, with the likes of Lee Sandford, Paul Hardyman and Kevin Ball coming through the ranks.

‘That was Graham Paddon and Peter Osgood, they were absolutely fantastic at their job.’