Former Portsmouth midfielder Mick Kennedy: I was a monster on the pitch - even Vinnie Jones was scared of me

The late, great Mick Kennedy revelled in the hardman persona he portrayed on the football pitch.

Fratton Park paid tribute to the late Mick Kennedy during the visit of Barnsley following his passing in February 2019. Picture: Joe Pepler
Fratton Park paid tribute to the late Mick Kennedy during the visit of Barnsley following his passing in February 2019. Picture: Joe Pepler

And during a 2015 interview for Played Up Pompey, the midfielder revealed how even the notorious Vinnie Jones was intimidated by his aggressive approach towards winning football matches.

Kennedy passed away in February 2019 at the age of 57 – almost a year following his induction into Pompey’s Hall of Fame.

And in one of his final interviews, he lifted the lid on the combative style which established him as massive Fratton favourite before sold to Bradford in January 1988.

‘Admittedly I was horrible, a nasty piece of work, but wasn’t off the park and people couldn’t understand that,’ Kennedy told Played Up Pompey.

‘You know they say when some people cross the white line they turn into a monster, well that was me from day one, right from as a kid.

‘My parents are Irish farmers so I was brought up tough and also raised in Salford, I could look after myself.

‘I had two good feet and was quick over five yards, lightning, nobody could touch me over that distance, and as soon as I got that tackle in, players knew about it.

Mick Kennedy made 149 appearances and scored five times for Pompey before leaving for Bradford in January 1988

‘What I did was scare opponents by my reputation, while I would also say nasty things to them, anything that got me an advantage I would say. It didn’t matter who they were.

‘Once I asked a player, who I won’t name, “Can you open a tin of beans for me?” because he had a right beak on him. That was only three on a scale of 10 of what I used to say to opponents!

‘I could upset the Queen. Bally knew that, he didn’t give me grief over it, he wanted me to, he knew if I was doing those sort of things the chances were we would win.

‘I never went to a PFA awards or anything like that. I wouldn’t go, I thought I would probably get a good hiding if I did. Not that I never got voted in any representative teams, but I never went, all the other lads did, though.

The late Mick Kennedy (far right) takes the stage during Pompey's promotion celebrations in May 1987 in front of Portsmouth's Guildhall

‘If I had gone there would have been a war on. It’s all right sitting in that room, but come 11pm or midnight it could easily start up.

‘Vinnie Jones was frightened of his life with me. When I was at Stoke City years after Pompey, myself, Wayne Biggins and Billy Whitehurst were drinking in the players’ lounge at Sheffield United and Vinnie came in and was looking at me in admiration as if “Oh look, it’s Mick Kennedy”.

‘It was embarrassing really, he was like a little puppy, I couldn’t believe it. We were drinking pints of lagers and port and brandy, maybe that frightened him.

‘While at Pompey I won two caps for the Republic of Ireland under Jack Charlton, who had previously managed me at Middlesbrough.

‘In May 1986 I received a call-up to a triangular tournament held in Reykjavik also involving Iceland and Czechoslovakia, as they were named at the time.

‘It was a great trip, a fantastic booze-up, even though there was no drink in Iceland at the time, everything was non-alcoholic. Not that it stopped us getting our hands on it.

‘Now I was quick getting dressed after a game, but you have never seen anything like Paul McGrath, he would be stood at the bar having a pint of lager containing an Irish drink called Poitin, which is the colour of vodka and twice as strong. We all got smashed that night.

‘We beat Iceland 2-1 and then defeated Czechoslovakia 1-0 and all the Eire directors were over the moon, it was the first thing they had won in their life, although I fell out with Jack and never played for them again.

‘In that Czech game I battered someone, broke him in two, and had his tooth stuck in my elbow.

‘After the match, a couple of their players thought they were dining in the same room as us and who should come through this door but this fella.

‘Gerry Daly spotted him and shouted “Do you want a bowl of soup?”. We were in bits, although obviously they couldn’t understand Gerry!

‘Over the years I have been told of the Pompey fans’ affection for me, but never thought for one minute I did anything different, I just thought I was Joe Soap, I really did.

‘In my career I ended up playing more than 550 games so can’t have been that bad, it’s just I never thought I was that good, simply part of the team.’

Mick Kennedy made 149 appearances and scored five goals from June 1984 until January 1988.

Played Up Pompey Too, released in 2017, is still available from Amazon. While Played Up Pompey Three, which contains more of your favourite Blues players, is out in September.

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