Point St. Charles, Montreal, Canada born goalkeeper James “Joe” Kennaway began his football career in Canada with amateur Montreal club Montreal CPR, the team of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and spent four years in the American Soccer League after signing for Providence in January 1927. In 1928, the club was renamed the Providence Gold Bugs. In 1931, new ownership moved the team to Fall River, Massachusetts and renamed the team Fall River. In the summer of 1931, the team again changed ownership, becoming the New Bedford Whalers. Kennaway remained with the team through all these changes.
An excellent performance in a friendly game for Fall River against a touring Glasgow Celtic team in 1931 gained the attention of the Scottish side. When their regular goalkeeper John Thomson was killed later that year, Kennaway was signed by Celtic in October 1931, making his Scottish League debut a few days later in a 2-2 draw at Motherwell. Kennaway was a solid and dependable keeper with excellent handling skills and ample courage. His reflexes were lightening quick and he earned a reputation as being an excellent penalty saver.
With Kennaway in goal, Celtic won the Scottish League title in the 1934-35 season and again in 1937-38, and Kennaway won a Scottish Cup winners medal when Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1 on 24th April 1937 in the incredible match which saw an attendance of 146,433 at Hampden Park. Possibly Kennaway’s finest moment came in the Empire Exhibition Trophy in 1938 when he conceded just a single goal in four games as Celtic won the tournament to be crowned the unofficial Champions of Britain.
Kennaway was first selected to represent The Scottish League in a 4-1 win over The Irish League at Ibrox in October 1932, and made three further inter-league appearances over the following two years. His debut for Scotland came when he played in a 2-2 draw with Austria at Hampden Park in November 1933, however this proved his only cap. He is credited as having been previously capped for his native Canada in 1926 he would have played more times for Scotland if the other British nations had not objected to a Canadian playing in goal for Scotland.
After 295 Scottish League and Cup appearances for Celtic, he eventually departed Parkhead a month after the outbreak of the Second World War and returned to Canada (leaving war-time Europe) in October 1939, and he later moved to the United States where he coached the Brown University soccer team from 1946 to 1959.