Josh Kennedy amazes fans with eight-goal final game for West Coast against the Adelaide Crows
Josh Kennedy had everyone scratching their heads asking themselves why he was retiring when he wound back the clock in a vintage display that saw him exit the AFL on an eight-goal high.
The humble champion probably would have swapped every one of his eight goals for a win, but the Adelaide Crows spoiled “JK’s party” by downing West Coast by 16 points in front of 50,000 Eagles fans at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
He didn’t walk away with a fairytale win, but Northampton’s favourite son walked away on rarefied air with his own unique ending, as no other player in the modern had kicked more goals in their final game. Only Fred Fanning, in the VFL era, kicked more — booting 18 goals in 1947 in his last game for Melbourne.
“Can you imagine kicking eight goals in your last game?” coach Adam Simpson said after the match.
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“It will probably never happen again.”
Kennedy’s family and childhood friends from Geraldton and Northampton were at the match, with his mother Jenny Wilson and stepfather Josh Wilson tossing the coin at the start of the game, while his young daughters Lottie and Sage ran out on to the field with their dad and his team.
Past teammates Mark LeCras, Quinten Lynch and Adam Selwood as well as former Eagles coach John Worsfold showed up for JK’s send-off.
The 34-year-old wore a black armband and saluted to the heavens after one of his goals, revealing after the match it was a tribute to his best mate’s nanna who passed away.
“She grew us all up back in Northampton ... it was a special one for her because she was a massive Eagles fan and a beautiful lady,” he said.
Kennedy admitted he felt “numb” after the game, but emotions were running high before, during and post-match.
It was his biggest bag of goals since 2016, and his AFL resume now ends on 293 games and 723 goals, with one premiership, three All-Australians and two Coleman medals among other accolades.
“All those little moments where you know it’s finishing, but I’m so grateful that I was able to finish on my terms ... and have a game like that,” he said. “Even though we didn’t get the win, it was a good contest ... I love to be part of those games, whether you win or lose, it’s just good to be part of a good game.”
Kennedy’s incredible final performance not only had fans wondering why he was calling it quits, but also his teammates.
“I don’t know why we didn’t kick it to him more often earlier in the season,” Jake Waterman said.
If not for a dodgy knee, Waterman believes Kennedy could have easily gone around again. “He’s an absolute star and I think he’s going out with a lot more in the tank,” he said.
Kennedy said he was hoping his knee would mend after a couple of months and he was looking forward to watching the Eagles from the stands with a beer in hand.
But he said the Eagles faithful had reason to hope, believing the club would be back in finals contention in the next couple of years.
Mid West locals could be seeing a lot more of their hometown hero in retirement.
In a social media tribute, the Great Northern Football League said Kennedy leaves the game a “legend”.
“He came from Northampton and is moving to Geraldton. He is such an inspiration to everyone and we are looking forward to welcoming him back to Geraldton,” it said.
It was the fans that Kennedy saved special praise for.
“We as footballers, we’re out there and we perform and it feels sometimes I reckon the consensus is we give a lot to the fans, but to be honest, they give us so much,” he said.
“They make our game great, they’re the reason why we can play football ... It brings a tear to my eye sometimes just how much they actually give to you over your career, so I can’t thank them enough.”
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