Barry Kitchener, Harry Cripps, Teddy Sheringham, Terry Hurlock, Tim Cahill, Neil Harris, Paul Robinson. There have been many players who whenever Millwall fans reminisce, will eloquently wax lyrical about how these are some of the greatest/hardest/most terrifying players they have ever seen at the Old and New Den. Players who we remember growing up watching wishing we could be, who we would cheer and chant their names from the stands and terraces.
But what about the others? The players who when we find old programmes in the garage, we would flip it over and have completely forgotten that these players played a part in successful teams of the past. The ‘Steady Eddies’ who may not have scored hat-tricks or hit crunching tackle every week, but those who were reliable and wouldn’t let you down.
After a recent fan poll, the fans decided to travel back to the 90's and look back to Millwall attacker Mark Kennedy. So put your kettle on, have some Coffee and TV and read about one of Millwall's most promising youth products.
The time it takes you to finish this article may be longer than the forward spent at The Den...
In April 1992, Hamlet debuted at the Criterion Theater, NYC and went on to perform 45 shows. Somebody else who made their debut that month, but in a slightly smaller scale production, was Mark Kennedy. Coming on as a 74th minute sub in the 1-0 home win against Charlton, this game would be Kennedy's only first team action for the Lions. Millwall went on to finish the season in 7th place overall, but it would be the following season where Kennedy would see more action.
At a time when Britpop was in it's infancy, Kennedy also took a while to get going in the 1993-1994 season, not featuring until he started in the 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough in October. Kennedy played well, and as the D:Ream song said at the time "Things Can Only Get Better". Kennedy started in the next three games, and scored his first goals for the club when he scored a brace against Oxford at the beginning of November. The game was a 2-2 draw, and at a time when Meatloaf was top of the chart with "I Would Do Anything for Love", our Irishman was quickly proving to be number one with the fans. Kennedy continued the goal scoring a few weeks later, with a goal in the 3-1 victory against Tranmere Rovers, and his last game of the 1993-1994 season for Millwall was as a substitute against Bolton in January. Kennedy played 12 games for the Lions that season and scored a respectable 4 goals. Kennedy had impressed and the home fans had watched Kennedy with the 1994 number one hit from Mariah Carey ringing in their ears. He showed a lot of potential and we were saying that we "can't live, if living is without you."
Kennedy's third season at Millwall would also be his last, but this would be the one where he put himself on the map. When the UK public were dancing around to Cotton Eye Joe, Kennedy was dancing around defences and finding the back of the net. Goals against Sunderland and Mansfield in the early rounds of the League Cup were followed by his first league goal of the season against Sheffield United. His penalty in the 2-1 win against the Blades showed he was also a danger from the penalty spot, and Oasis' soundtrack of "Some Might Say" had us saying that Mark Kennedy was destined for a brighter day.
Kennedy continued to score in the league, with goals against Swindon, Port Vale and Sunderland showing how dangerous he was, but without doubt Mark Kennedy's most famous moment in the Millwall blue and white was on the 18th January 1995. Robson and Jerome may have been the most famous double act at the time, but Millwall fans joined another duo "Up on the Roof" on Cloud Nine. In the famous FA Cup replay against Arsenal, Mark Beard had put the Lions 1-0 up before Mark Kennedy shone in the 90th minute. Only having the goal in his sights, Kennedy picked up the ball on the halfway line. Sprinting towards Arsenal's box, and with Millwall fans whistling to the referee that it was the end of the game, all our attacker needed to do was keep possession and grind away minutes. Kennedy thought otherwise. Running at David Seaman now, he had one thing in his mind. As soon as he entered the Arsenal penalty area, he pulled his left foot back and drilled it into the back of the net. The Millwall fans behind the goal were delirious, Kennedy had sent First Division Millwall into the next round of the cup at the expense of the Premiership side, and like the boyband who was on everyone's lips at the time, Kennedy screamed Take That! Kennedy went on to score one more goal for the Lions, in a home victory against Grimsby, and his contribution of 5 goals in 30 games helped Millwall to a 13th place.
Seeing his potential and his ability to impact games, Liverpool approached Millwall and bought Mark Kennedy in March 1995. Finding game time few and far between, Kennedy was loaned to QPR, before being sold to Wimbledon. Kennedy would also go on to play for Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Ipswich Town before retiring at the end of the 2011 - 2012 season.
In all, Mark Kennedy played 54 games for Millwall, scoring 12 goals. His time at Millwall was a lot shorter than people remember, but he had a big impact. Kennedy had bags of potential that may not have been fully realised, but the Lions fans were happy with his contribution and he was responsible for one of the greatest moments of Millwall's history.