THERE was something familiar about watching Jason Kennedy go to ground on Brewery Field, emerging with the ball and leaping to win headers, some 16 years after first appearing on the scene with a youthful Middlesbrough academy side.

Kennedy played his last game for Spennymoor Town last Saturday before the coronavirus crisis led to the postponement of National League North fixtures, and his performance in the 4-0 win over Hereford United earned him the man of the match award from sponsors.

Whether or not Spennymoor fans will get to see him in action again will be determined by what happens over the next few months, given his loan deal is set to expire in May. Any delay would mean there would have to be a change to the rulebook in such scenarios.

Kennedy is also out of contract at his parent club Hartlepool United, so either way he will be heading into a summer of even greater uncertainty even if the action resumes when the coronavirus threat has eased.

The 33-year-old, who turns 34 in September, does not want to end his playing career just yet, even though he has some fantastic memories from his spells at numerous clubs across the country since developing through the academy at Boro.

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“I was at Rochdale, Bradford, Darlington, Carlisle and Hartlepool – and those were just permanent deals,” said Kennedy.

“But I have three big memories to look back on, one of those I’d say are the two promotions with Rochdale, but the others are standalone memories I’d never forget.

“When I was with Carlisle I remember taking Liverpool to penalties with Carlisle at Anfield in the League Cup (in 2015), what a great experience that was. I had been taken off by the time the penalties were taken, I had ran my socks off.

“Brendan Rodgers brought on Philippe Coutinho, ten minutes later I said I am ready now you can take me off! I was up against him in the middle after I played against Adam Lallana and players like that, players who had ran you ragged as well. It was a great experience, atmosphere.

“I have never played in a game like I did with Bradford against Leeds in the League Cup either (2014) when we beat them 2-1. We were in League One and the atmosphere, in front of 18,000 or so at Bradford, was unbelievable, it was probably the best atmosphere I have ever played in.”

Those two memories are also Kennedy’s most recent, not that he will forget what went before either. He always looked set for a career in the professional game when he was part of Middlesbrough’s first ever FA Youth Cup winning side in 2004.

Andrew Taylor, Matthew Bates, David Wheater, Tony McMahon, Gary Liddle, James Morrison and Kennedy all went on from that team to have playing careers in the top four divisions in the top four divisions. Tom Craddock, Anthony Peacock and David Knight all earned a living from the game too, while Peter Masters went to the USA to coach.

Former Manchester City and England winger Adam Johnson appeared from the bench with Danny Reed, who was forced to retire aged just 18 due to injury, in that two-legged final against Aston Villa.

And as Kennedy sat in the manager’s office at Spennymoor reflecting on his playing career, the satisfaction was written across the face of the Stockton-born midfielder.

“I’m 33 now, so to be able to look back on all of those times shapes great memories of my career,” he said. “To make a living as a footballer you have to enjoy it and throughout my career I have done that.

“I have been at good clubs, good teams who have done well in the leagues. I have had injuries too so now it is about enjoying every experience you get on the field.

“That FA Youth Cup winning season was special. Generally you drift away from each other in football, so you don’t really stay in touch much. Lads move on. You become friends with your new team-mates. You do come across each other now and again. That’s nice.

“The lads I played with in that FA Youth Cup winning side all went on to have good careers, so it pushed me on as well. There was a great personal pride felt to be the next one from that team to get in the side, make your debut, train with the first team. That improves you as a player.”

Kennedy still has the desire now to finish his career with a flourish. For someone who has had his ups and downs because of injury, he was loving life at Spennymoor having been deemed surplus to requirements at Hartlepool following the appointment of Dave Challinor.

“It’s football,” said Kennedy. “The last game I played for Pools I scored a last-minute winner. I got ill after that, missed the next game, and then didn’t really get an opportunity. It’s football, you get on with it, it’s life.

“Football is my job, all you think about is playing football, so you look at that and want to play games. We are in a good position, we didn’t want the summer to come early and everyone at Spennymoor just wants to carry on from where we left off last Saturday when it resumes.”

The problem Spennymoor face is that no one knows when that will be. An initial postponement of fixtures until early April has seen Premier League and the FA now extend that until April 30 at the earliest. There is still an intention to complete the seasons, but only time will tell whether that is the case.

“I have loved every minute of it here,” he said. “We have had great results and the gaffer Jason Ainsley and staff have been brilliant. Superb. We play really good football and I have enjoyed it. It’s been a great place to be.

“I haven’t thought about what the coronavirus means for my loan until now. I want to be part of it here and be involved in finishing the season off regardless of whatever the situation is. Hopefully we can sort that out. I am out of contract at the end of the season anyway.

“I had not been to Spennymoor before I joined. When I came here I could see how professional the club is. It is a great outfit, with really good players. They will push on and hopefully it is just a matter of time before they get into the National League.”

At least Spennymoor did sign off in style against Hereford last week, even though there were eyebrows raised that the game went ahead in light of the postponement of Premier League, EFL and grassroots football beforehand.

“It was the perfect result, 4-0,” said Kennedy. “It was a great way to bounce back when we weren’t at the races, the lads put in a great shift, with a clean sheet, and we worked our socks off to get the result.

“As a footballer it is down to us to go out and perform in any circumstances we are presented with. And, one to 11, the subs too, we did that. We can only take care of what we needed to do on the pitch and we played well.

“It wasn’t that strange on Saturday when we started to play, you have to prepare regardless for whatever circumstances you are in. You can only influence things on the field, others have to make decisions on people’s health but as a footballer it is football. There is not much more you can do, we will see what happens now.”