Canada Soccer

Kennaway a Celtic hero in Scotland

Posted on 26 May 2012 in Around the Soccer World

In 1928, newspaper men raved about a young Montréal goalkeeper named Joe Kennaway. The Montréal CPR star of the 1928 Charity Cup match at Stade Molson, it was written that "in that game alone Kennaway proved himself one of the finest Canadian players of all time."

From that 1:0 victory and clean sheet in the Charity Cup match, Kennaway launched a professional career that started in eastern USA, but then prospered for eight seasons in Scotland with renowned Glasgow club Celtic. He won two Scottish League titles and two Scottish Cups from 1931 to 1939, only returning home to Canada after the outbreak of the Second World War.

How Kennaway came to play in Celtic was the result of another typical strong performance in 1931 against his future team. Now with Fall River FC in the American Soccer League, Kennaway was the difference in a 1:0 victory over touring Celtic in North Tiverton, RI. Just over three months later after goalkeeper John Thomson was fatally injured in a match, Celtic called for the Canadian to serve as Thomson's replacement.

In James Handley's The Celtic Story, it was written that manager "Willie Maley remembered the lively display that Joe Kennaway of Fall River Football Club had given in the recent American tour and invited him over. On 31 October Kennaway made his first appearance in Celtic's goal in a match against Motherwell and soon proved that the performance he had put up against the celebrated visitors had been no mere flash in the pan."

Over eight seasons, Kennaway made 295 appearances for Celtic, winning the Scottish League title in 1935-36 and 1937-38, as well as Scottish Cup titles in 1933 and 1937. In his first Scottish Cup final on 15 April 1933 against Motherwell, he posted a clean sheet at Hampden Park in front of 102,000 fans in attendance.

In 1935-36, Kennaway and Celtic tied a franchise record by posting 32 wins in a 38-match season. The team's record was an impenetrable 32-2-4. So outstanding was Kennaway that he was one of two Celtic players featured in the "Popular Footballers" picture card set of 1936 United Kingdom footballers (produced by Carreras Limited).

In 1937, Kennaway second Scottish Cup followed a 2:1 victory over Aberdeen in the final. The following season, it was back to the top of the Scottish League standings, posting a record of 27 wins, seven draws and four loses.

After returning home, Kennaway eventually landed back in USA, settling in Rhode Island (his wife's hometown). He soon took over as soccer coach at Brown University, a position he held from 1946 to 1959. After passing away in 1969, he was posthumously honoured by both the New England Soccer Hall of Fame (1997) and The Soccer Hall of Fame in Canada (inaugural class in 2000).

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