|Lenny Kenny by Alex Service |
Saints supporters were getting just a little bit restless with the team-building ambitions of their Committee in the late autumn of 1948 when it was announced that Lenny Kenny was on the transfer list at Leeds. A new winger was badly needed down Knowsley Road way, especially when the brilliant Sonny Doyle had his career curtailed by injury. To their credit, however, the Committee got their man for £500, half the fee insisted upon by the Headingley Club. Premier in the St.Helens Newspaper was quite enthusiastic, yet cautious: “Kenny is much like Doyle in size and style. He may not be quite as big or as heavy and it is unlikely that he is as fast as Doyle used to be. In short, St.Helens have bought another little man, who does not claim to be an even-timer, but nevertheless has a good reputation as an elusive try-scorer.”
Meanwhile, full details of the new signing were released in the Reporter: “Dapper little Leonard Patrick Kenny, Leeds wing threequarter who signed for St.Helens RFC last week at the astonishingly low figure of £500 is a quiet, likable young fellow, a teetotaller and non-smoker, who mixes well both on and off the field. He has all the Australians love of sport and is looking forward to a successful career with the Saints. What will make him all the more valuable to his new club is the fact that he feels equally at home playing on either right or left wing. He played right wing against England in Australia in 1946 but on coming to Leeds he usually played on the left wing. He thrills the crowd with his dazzling sidestep and darts for the line. In three seasons in Australia Kenny scored 300 tries. He joined Leeds in October 1947 and scored 30 tries for them. Soon we may hear the cry at Knowsley Road Give it to Kenny! He ran with the Mayne Harriers, Brisbane and won several trophies for sprint and long-distance races. Notable among which was the half-mile Queensland Championship in 1943 for youths under 18. In running shoes on a running track he has done the 100 yards in ten and three fifths seconds. Before coming to England he was employed as a clerk-salesman in Brisbane and was later similarly employed in Leeds. He also coached schoolboys in sports and PT at a Leeds school. Stocky (he measures 5ft 8ins and weighs 10st 9lbs) he started his playing career at the Valleys, Australia. Afterwards, he played for Brisbane and Queensland. He played in the Trial Test in 1946 and was selected to play for Australia. Unfortunately an injury prevented him doing so. He has twice played against England, once for Queensland where he scored three tries and once for Brisbane when he scored one.”
His first match for the Saints was an A Team fixture at home to Warrington, when over 5,000 fans came to watch the new man in action and he did not disappoint, stepping in and out through half the visiting team to score a marvellous try. He scored on his debut for the First Team too, at Whitehaven, when he finished off a movement started by his centre for the day, Steve Llewellyn. Kenny also beat three defenders with outrageous side-stepping and just as he was about to be floored by the covering McKeown, he off-loaded to Llewellyn, who scored with ease.
Pivot on a Penny Lenny Kenny as he was dubbed by the Knowsley Road crowd did not last too long in red and white. A great pity, because he was a real entertainer. Ironically, in the second half of the 1948-49 campaign, the Saints signed Stan McCormick from Belle Vue for a World Record £4,000 fee and it was the new signing plus Steve Llewellyn who occupied the wing berths for the next few years.
Lenny played his last match for the club against Barrow on the right wing on 20th April 1949 in a 16-5 victory for the home side. Tom Stott, brother of Jimmy, was his centre. He made 15 appearances and scored 7 tries. His unorthodox running clearly endeared him to the Knowsley Road faithful and he is still remembered fondly by those of a certain vintage.
Apparently Lenny returned to Australia where he continued his interest in horse racing, but details are quite sketchy and we would welcome any further information on his post-St.Helens career.