Keeper who earned dream move to Sunderland in first spell with Worksop, and fell out of favour in second, hopes third time’s a charm

Buxton FC v Worksop, Worksop keeper Jon Kennedy watches a shot just miss his goal
Buxton FC v Worksop, Worksop keeper Jon Kennedy watches a shot just miss his goal

Jon Kennedy is Worksop Town’s version of the proverbial bad penny – he just keeps showing up.

The veteran keeper has signed for Tigers for the third time in his career, and hopes he can add leadership and a calm head to Mark Shaw’s young squad.

Matlock Town vs Buxton - Jon Kennedy - Pic By James Williamson

Matlock Town vs Buxton - Jon Kennedy - Pic By James Williamson

Kennedy, whose return marks an end to four seasons and over 200 apperances at Matlock Town, has significant history with the Sandy Lane outfit.

It was his form for Tigers in the 1999/2000 season that landed him a dream move to Sunderland, and netted the world’s fourth oldest club a record fee of £47,000.

Pete Rinkcavage brought him back to Worksop in 2009 after spells with Accrington and Halifax, and Witton – where a defeat by Tigers cost Kennedy a promotion.

The stopper was a mainstay during a turbulent period of exile for Worksop Town, before Martin McIntosh brought in Jon Worsnop – the beginning of the end for Kennedy’s second spell.

He moved to rivals Matlock in 2011, and yet again suffered at the hands and feet of his former employers, picking the ball out of the net six times during one Sandy Lane clash, and lasting just 19 minutes of another, when Conor Higginson accidentally clattered into him and injured his eye.

Now that the 34-year-old can count Higginson as a team-mate, he’s hoping they’ll produce happier memories together.

“Mark outlined his plans, what he wanted from me and the kind of football they play and there wasn’t a choice really, I jumped at the chance,” he said.

“I was at Worksop when I made a name for myself and got the move to Sunderland.”

“And even though the second time didn’t end how I might have liked, it’s always been a club I have good memories of.”

He leaves Matlock having won the Player of the Year award, evidence that his prowess between the posts is not yet on the wane.

But the time was right to make another career move, and add to his 122 Worksop appearances.

“As a footballer, you need to know when it’s time to move on. I’ve enjoyed my time there, there’s no bad blood, it was a footballing decision.”

Although Kennedy is dropping down two divisions to the NCEL Premier, he’s keen to go back up a level by this time next year.

“Worksop were unlucky not to win the league last season and this season they want to be up there at the top.”

“I’m coming towards the end of my career but I’m not too old just yet.”

“Hopefully we can give the fans something to celebrate this season. It will be good to play in front of them again.”

And having seen most things in the game, ‘Kendo’ will lend his experience to a team that was accused of being naive more than once last term.

“Mark said that he wanted an older head and I remember when I was young, you needed an older head when you were having a bit of a moment in a game.”