Beith Juniors FC: My Site News: Evening Times Article: Kenny goal is for Beith to land first ever Super title

Thursday, April 30
Evening Times Article: Kenny goal is for Beith to land first ever Super title

by Jim O'Donnell

KENNY McLEAN won his biggest-ever battle when he beat testicular cancer ... now his next big challenge is to fire Beith to a first-ever Super Premier Division title.

The 24-year-old striker has had two outstanding seasons at the Ayrshire club - remarkable considering his stunning recovery from that life-threatening illness which had put the brakes on a career at Morton.

Now, his partnership with Andy Reid could propel Beith to success in the toughest league of all. The duo shared 50 goals when first paired together last season, and are well on the road to beating that total having bagged 43 strikes between them in this campaign.

And few would bet against them with Beith still to play a definite five matches or a possible maximum of 10 if they continue their winning ways beginning with this weekend's West of Scotland Cup semi-final clash with Cumnock.

The 24-year-old was born and raised in the Priesthill area of Glasgow and attended Bellar-mine Secondary where he and current Pollok midfielder David McGeown were the star turns in an under-achieving school football team.

That had its advantages, however, as he was snapped up by Queen's Park coach Robert Kelly, but playing for the Spiders at pro-youth level without having trophies to contest did not suit Kenny's competitive nature.

So, one year down the line he was reinstated to Hillwood Boys' Club where his goalscoring feats soon caught the eye of Senior scouts, in particular renowned talent-spotter George Adams, then employed by Rangers.

Kenny recalled: "George took me along to Murray Park for a two-week trial and I felt things had gone really well but, at 19, I was considered in the upper age bracket and the decision was made to offer contracts to a couple of younger strikers.

"I was devastated, but George did me a big favour with a glowing recommendation to Morton boss John McCormack, who already knew all about me from my Queen's Park days and after just one trial outing I signed on at Cappielow.

"Things went so well that I ended up making my first-team debut in a 2-1 victory over Arbroath and several other appearances.

"Morton had a great support and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, however the one downside was Cowboy getting the sack.

"Jim McInally took over as manager and offered me a two-year full-time contract, but I opted to sign part-time through wanting to finish my apprenticeship as a plumber."

He added: "And it proved the best decision I ever made because not long afterwards I fell seriously ill and was unable to play for four months. Thank-fully, I did make a recovery of sorts and, a few training sessions down the line, was as fit as ever, but I never did feature again in the first-team picture so I considered packing it in.

"But, out of the blue, came an opportunity to play regularly through going on loan to Maryhill and it wasn't long before my old appetite was back."

Kenny proved to be a revelation in a financially stricken Hill side playing under co-gaffers Stevie Brown and Robert Johnstone even though away from Lochburn Park he was still battling his cancer with regular chemo-therapy sessions.

Doctors subsequently giving him the all-clear gave Kenny a terrific boost and even news that Morton were releasing him on a free transfer could not dampen his spirits.

His listing among the Senior "frees" did not escape the notice of then Beith management duo Frank Lynch and Johnny Millar, whose knowledge of his abilities dated back to when he turned out for Hillwood and they duly invited him down to Bellsdale for signing talks.

"Johnny said he wasn't prepared to let me leave the room until my signature was on a form, but there was no need for much persuasion as I was very impressed by his and Frank's plans for Beith," he added.

Those plans included the further striking addition of one-time Blackburn Rovers signing Reid from Troon and, it's fair to say, the Ayrshire club have been on the up-and-up ever since.

So, does Kenny think he and his team-mates can go on to clinch a league and cup double?

"It's a big ask with four very stiff league games yet to play and the very fact Pollok have been over the course before makes me think the title is very much in their hands.

"But if our meeting with them at Newlandsfield turns out to be a championship decider then nobody in our dressing room will be frightened at the prospect.

"We ran them very close in drawing 3-3 at their place in the West and I don't think we played anywhere near our full potential.

"I've never won a trophy in my footballing career but, if push comes to shove, then I'd love to take the Super Premier crown above all else mostly because it allows Beith entry into the Scottish Cup proper.

"And, with a little bit of luck, I might return to Cappielow and let people see what they're missing."

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