Simon Parker column

A quick glance around Bobby Kennedy’s front room in Bradford confirms his City allegiances remain as strong as ever.

The Scot loved his seven-year association with Valley Parade, which included three as manager.

Older fans still vividly recall that famous FA Cup victory at top-flight Norwich in 1976 with a team languishing in a similar lowly position as the current Bantams.

But Kennedy’s true love is with a City of the sky blue persuasion and he will take wife Barbara to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow hoping to see Manchester’s “noisy neighbours” claim their first title in 44 years.

The photos and memorabilia that fill his home confirm the dedication to a club where he played 254 games – including the season when they were last crowned champions of England.

It may not be in the Yaya Toure or Sergio Aguero league but Kennedy’s £42,500 transfer fee from Kilmarnock in 1961 was a record at the time between Scottish and English clubs.

Like many Man City players, his spell there included relegation and promotion until that glorious 4-3 win at Newcastle to earn the biggest domestic prize of all.

Kennedy got his hands on the trophy – the photographic evidence stands in pride of place on the corner table – but did not get on the pitch. He was the substitute.

He recalled: “Those days you had to be injured before somebody came off. And even then they’d stay on if their leg was hanging off!

“There were three of us that season who took it in turns to be substitute: myself, Stan Bowles and Dave Conner.

“We’d run right through the Second Division and won that and I’d played the whole of that season. But I was getting near the end of my career by then.”

Unfortunately Kennedy has no medal to show for the title after finishing one appearance short of qualifying.

But he said: “I didn’t mind too much because I was still part of the celebrations. I got to hold the trophy.

“That team were the best, simple as that. Ask people in Manchester what City team they remember and it’s always that one. Bell, Lee, Summerbee – those are the names that fans still talk about.”

Now 74, Kennedy catches up regularly with his old comrades at matches. He is a member of the club’s ex-players association, which is run by former team-mate Roy Cheetham.

He said: “Manchester City look after us very well. We have our own room, the best seats in the stand, everything is laid on.

“We even go away every year to Anglesey as a group. We’re going next week.

“Football has changed that much since our time. You only have to look at these stadiums today and the pitches they play on.

“But you can’t really say one team was better than the other. It’s entirely different.

“I just enjoy watching the modern team and they’ve played some really good football. Some of the players have really shone.”

Kennedy’s links with Bradford City remain through son Graeme, the club’s youth goalkeeping coach. Daughter Lorraine has also managed City’s women’s team.

His time at the club began with the youth team, working with the likes of a young Peter Jackson, before stepping up to succeed Bryan Edwards as manager in January 1975.

The following year, Kennedy steered Fourth Division City to the last eight of the FA Cup and then to promotion.

But his reign ended with a controversial sacking at the start of 1978 – a decision which saw two directors, including Jack Tordoff, quit the board. City went straight back down.

Kennedy said: “It was unfortunate but that happens in football. We’d finished runners-up to get promoted but there was simply no money to buy players, which we needed going up a division.

“Everything had to be run past the directors and I know Jack was very upset when they decided to get rid of me.

“But I enjoyed my time there and that win at Norwich was a special night. We’d been given no chance because they were First Division but everything went for us that could have done and we hung on.

“I still keep a close eye on how Bradford are doing, especially with Graeme being there. It’s been a long decline but I feel sorry for them to a certain extent.

“Geoffrey Richmond did some funny things, like signing the Italian lad (Benito Carbone) for all that money. But you see the stadium now from what was there before and it’s chalk and cheese.”