AS Warrington Rylands prepared for life at a higher level, Gary Kenny knew it was time to step away.

The veteran skipper has been a cornerstone of the club’s exponential growth over the past three years, culminating in him lifting the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium.

That memorable day in May had convinced him to go round again, but it soon dawned on him how difficult the balance between family and football would be to strike.

The 36-year-old and wife Leigh welcomed son Jacob into the world almost a year ago.

With Leigh’s maternity leave ending soon, Kenny felt he needed to step back from leading Blues’ assault on the Northern Premier League’s West Division.

As such, he has dropped down two divisions to join Pilkington – the club with whom he played as a junior – and finish his career where it started.


Kenny heads towards goal in Mays FA Vase semi-final win over Walsall Wood. Picture by Mike Boden

Kenny heads towards goal in May's FA Vase semi-final win over Walsall Wood. Picture by Mike Boden


“I was thinking about things coming towards the end of last season but obviously, Wembley gave everything a big boost,” Kenny told the Guardian.

“I told myself I would be able to go again.

“As pre-season went on, I started to think more about it – my wife is set to go back to work now and it was going to get harder and harder.

“As we were set to travel down to Hornchurch for the Super Cup game, it just hit home that I couldn’t do this anymore.

“I knew I couldn’t give the commitment that was needed for this new level.

“It was just little things all adding up and there was a bit more pressure. Everything was pointing me in the direction of just stepping away.”

While the unforgettable 3-2 win over Binfield at the national stadium – and the Vase run that preceded it – is an obvious highlight, Kenny can reflect on so many memorable moments from his time with Blues.

From leading the club to promotion in their first ever North West Counties League season, to appearing live on the BBC in the FA Cup against York City last year and all things in between.


Kenny in action against York City in last seasons FA Cup - a tie streamed live on the BBC Sport website. Picture by Mark Percy

Kenny in action against York City in last season's FA Cup - a tie streamed live on the BBC Sport website. Picture by Mark Percy


Those memories – plus the prospect of making more – made the decision a difficult one, but Kenny insists Gorsey Lane has not seen the last of him.

“It was a really difficult thing to do. I’ve been at the club for three years and I’ve got a proper connection with the place,” he said.

“As disappointing as it is, I had to make this decision for my family and it feels like the right thing to do.

“Wembley is obviously the pinnacle but there’s so many things I could pick out over my time. The York FA Cup game live on TV, for example,” he said.

“Coming together in that first year – nothing was really expected of us so to go on the run we went on to win the league was a massive one as well.

“The club is a massive part of me and I’ll be down to watch games and catch up with people when I can.

“The memories I’ve made at Rylands will stay with me for life.”