Link up for soccer hero

FORMER New Hartley juniors soccer legend Ray Kennedy used to be cut off from the world by Parkinson's disease.

The one time super fit footballer's life had been reduced to a battle against the shakes, and medication and communication had become difficult.

But now Ray, who was a member of New Hartley Juniors successful 1968 side and later played for Arsenal, Liverpool and England, is linked up to the internet and posting messages in football chat rooms.

Football fans around the world rallied round and bought their hero a computer.

The equipment arrived recently at Ray's bungalow in New Hartley and with help from his brother Michael he has been posting messages on the talk boards at www.ynwa.tv (You'll Never Walk Alone), and within hours Ray had replies from around the world.

Ray, who played junior football for New Hartley Juniors before going onto international success with three European Cups and five League Championships and a host of other UEFA and FA medals whilst with Arsenal and Liverpool, said: "It was very nice of them to think of me."

The brains behind the scheme, Merseyside businessman Phil Clearly, 51, said: "Ray was one of my heroes and I was saddened by his loneliness and difficulties so we started thinking that if we got him a computer, he would be able to log on to the forums and follow some of the discussions.

Phil got in touch with New Hartley Juniors secretary, John Maley, who has been a friend of Rays since his New Hartley Juniors days.

On one of his visits to Ray's bungalow, Ray told John he was delighted with the gesture and he would look forward to the arrival of the computer.

John said "It is now 36 years since Ray played for New Hartley and it is wonderful that supporters of both Arsenal and Liverpool still have fond memories of him from when he was a legend at both Highbury and Anfield.

"I hope that he gets many hours of satisfaction from this wonderful gesture."