Guardian Player of the Year Kennedy looks back at 2015/16 and looks forward to next season

Worksop keeper Jon Kennedy saves a penalty
Worksop keeper Jon Kennedy saves a penalty

The elder statesman of the Worksop Town squad has pipped his more youthful team-mates to the Guardian Player of the Year award.

Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy is limping across the finish line in the 2015/16 season having picked up an injury – but he’s had no second thoughts about extending his playing career.

Guardian writer Graham Smyth presents Jon Kennedy with the Readers' Player of the Year award

Guardian writer Graham Smyth presents Jon Kennedy with the Readers' Player of the Year award

The 35-year-old admits it has been a frustrating season for the team, but a satisfactory one for him as an individual.

His third spell with the world’s fourth oldest club has seen him add 46 appearances to his total, missing only two games.

And he’s delighted that Guardian readers have picked him out as a solid performer this season.

He said: “I just want to thank everyone that voted, at my age to still be getting recognition for awards is humbling.

“From a personal point of view I’ve been pleased with my season, there haven’t been too many goals that I’ve had to hold my hands up for.

“I always analyse after every game, but at my age and still playing, everything’s a bonus.”

The season is ending on somewhat of a sour, or rather painful note for the man once bought by Sunderland for a Worksop Town record fee.

He explained: “It’s not nice to finish with an injury, I’ve torn my thigh, it’s not a good one.

“I will be getting through Saturday and after that I know I’ve got all summer to rest and rehab ahead of pre-season.

“If it had happened earlier in the season I would have had quite a long time out.”

Kennedy and his team-mates had high hopes for this campaign, with genuine title aspirations.

But it hasn’t quite worked out the way they planned, with Tadcaster and Handsworth fighting it out for the promotion spot and Worksop having to settle for a top four finish.

Kennedy gave his insight into why things went awry: “It’s been very frustrating considering we were three points in front at one stage and in the driving seat.

“We had a disastrous two month spell and that’s when it cost us.

“Our form going into the final stage of the season has been alright, but those two months have thrown us off.

“From the start of the season to the end, you can see a massive personnel change.

“Everyone came in after pre-season, but then when lads didn’t get in the team or wanted to leave to go somewhere else, it’s hard for the manager, having to find players who haven’t necessarily been playing at other clubs.

“Then they have to come in and try and find form and fitness.

“I don’t think we’ve had a settled side and I think you need that.

“You either need a strong squad with players willing to stick around and wait for their chance, or a settled side, and I don’t think we’ve had either.”

There’s no bitterness from the stopper however, towards players moving on to a higher level.

“I left Witton to go to Droylsden and it was quite a lot more money, but I only lasted three games, I didn’t get on with the manager and ended up going to Halifax.

“During my last spell at Worksop a new manager came in and wanted to bring in his own players, I stayed but I was a friend of the old manager and wasn’t going to play any games. I ended up at Matlock where I had four great years.

“I can’t knock anyone for wanting to better themselves, I can understand lads being frustrated at not playing.

“Sometimes young lads need to hang in there and fight for their place a bit longer though.

“This is the biggest club in this league, maybe not financially speaking because of the ground situation, but it’s the biggest with the best fans.

“Sometimes the grass isn’t greener,” he added.

Kennedy will be hoping the grass is somewhat greener next season for Worksop, and he plans to be part of it.

“I feel alright, I feel sharp when I play.

“When I don’t do myself justice and know I can’t help the team and do my job properly, that’s when I think it’s time to call it quits.

“But I feel good, apart from this injury, and I’m ready for another season.

“It would be nice to finish this one with a win over Handsworth but it will be a very tough game and one we will need to be up for.”