Kevin Dillon: Mick Kennedy was the leader of Bally’s great Portsmouth side

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Former Pompey players have been paying tribute to Mick Kennedy, following his death at the age of 57. Here, hall of famer Kevin Dillon gives his memories of his midfield partner.  

I’m just so, so sad about the news of Mick’s death.

MOTELY BUNCH Mick Kennedy, front row, second left, with the 1986-87 Pompey promotion-winning team ahead of their final match against Sheffield United

MOTELY BUNCH Mick Kennedy, front row, second left, with the 1986-87 Pompey promotion-winning team ahead of their final match against Sheffield United

He’s the first one from that promotion team to pass away - and he was our leader.

I’ve got numbers on my phone of ex-players and the majority of them are from Portsmouth. Mick has a lot to do with that.

He was someone you didn’t mess with. Off the pitch he was a lovely lad who’d do anything for anyone. But when he was on the pitch he changed.

He made life easy for me, put it that way! He sorted it all out for everybody.

It’s just so sad. He’s so young, so it doesn’t feel like a celebration.

He was the leader of the team - and the leader at the party!

Mick was a great signing for Bally, and I remember everyone in Portsmouth went mad when he was sold.

He was also the one who used to try to damage the opposition - especially Wimbledon! They were our main rivals.

We played them on New Year’s Day one year and Bally was still drunk from the night before.

We beat them 3-1 and Bally opened the dressing room and shouted in ‘here endeth the lesson!’.

There was hell on and a proper fight! Mick was right there. There was respect between the sides as well, though, and for Mick.

I roomed with Mick. You see him on the pitch and you think he’d be like it off it. He wasn’t.

He wasn’t like that with the boys in training and he was an honest, good bloke to know.

We used to have a drink on the way back from away games, and Mick was always the one to put his hand in his pocket.

Mick would always look after the young kids like Kevin Ball as well, and they all looked up to him. Kevin Russell was another one who was very upset when he heard the news.

When he went to Bradford we were all a bit surprised.

If you ask anyone who played in that period they will say it was the best club they played for. Mick had everything to do that.

He was made captain straightaway, but I can’t remember anyone having an argument with Mick.

But on the pitch it was different. We had a tackling system. First it was Mick who went in, then Billy (Gilbert) and Blakey. Then it would be Kevin O’Callaghan who’d leave a sly foot in.

He was just a great lad. He never missed a training session - and he never missed a night out.

You will not hear anyone with a bad word to say about him, and all the stories you hear about him are true. It’s just so sad.

Quinn: Mick Kennedy was the glue which held Bally's Portsmouth Gremlins together