West Coast Eagles champion Josh Kennedy wowed fans with his joy of playing

There is this undeniable sadness when an athlete who has amused and enchanted us with his art finally hangs up his cleats.

When West Coast Eagles champion Josh Kennedy announced he would be playing his last game this Sunday against the Crows, I was enveloped in that football funk.

For those who don’t embrace the irrational beauty of following a sports team, feeling slightly melancholic at the thought of a player retiring would seem indulgent and out of place.

But this dopey stupidity is just what we fans want to do. It goes pretty quickly.

And though I dread having to mention the Dockers, I know Fremantle fans will feel that funk with the graceful and elegant David Mundy calling it a day.

There are not many players who can provoke this type of emotion. This overwhelming feeling, “we see a unique player in a generation”.

But it’s more than a certain footballer with an illustrious career. Only a rare few garnish this genuine affection and adoration from the fans. It’s hard to remember rival supporters leaning over a fence to give JK a full bite.

He was more than likely to get kissed.

That might be a very simplistic analysis of why Kennedy is so revered and admired, but it’s because he approached the game with a sense of humor.

The three-time All-Australian seemed to be enjoying himself. (I even found his satirical mattress commercials from about 10 years ago amusing.) His joy for the game was contagious.

He seemed devoid of the ego and arrogance that some players carry with them. There’s no denying that two-time medalist Coleman will be one of the game’s superstars, but he really is one of the great performers.
Even this year, as he leapt across the turf with all the alacrity of a cross-country skier, his competitive drive and humor never wavered.

The 34-year-old charging into a pack against St Kilda in hopes of catching that latest Howler was like watching a Lama try to ride an e-bike.

But he was a clutch player who delivered games that mattered. His performance in the 2018 Grand Final is often overlooked, but he put the Eagles back in the game in the first quarter when it looked like the Pies were running away with it. Kennedy was the Eagles’ only multiple scorer that day with three.

West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson said Kennedy would be one of the best.

“I remember the preliminaries against North Melbourne in 2015 where we were 20 points down, hadn’t scored a goal, and he took that disputed mark from 50m and just rolled it and inserted it,” he said. -he declares.

“That just sums it up. He’s a high-caliber player, but he also loves his teammates and loves his club.”

Watching former Eagles teammate and current runner Chris Masten run across the floor and hug Kennedy with all the tenderness and intimacy of a long-lost lover after scoring his 700th goal says it all.

Everyone loves JK.

Although he lost his radar for a season or two with his peculiar Fred Flintstones-like run towards goal, we still couldn’t hate him.

Josh Kennedy. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Ironically, Masten was involved in the trade which saw a reluctant Kennedy come to the West Coast in exchange for Chris Judd going to Carlton.

Even when Kennedy arrived at the club in 2007 looking like he was playing bass in Radiohead, West Coast fans knew we were getting a ripper given Judd’s caliber.

Kennedy’s numbers are staggering considering how the game has evolved and become less reliant on power forwards to kick a loot of goals.

He will leave the game as the West Coast’s leading goal kicker with 704 goals (currently) and ranked 24th for most goals in VFL/AFL history. He was the club’s top scorer seven times.

Those numbers are even more impressive considering Kennedy has had to deal with two or three fullbacks every week trying to disrupt his game.

It’s hard to imagine any other Eagles player passing JK.

And while “who won the Kennedy for Judd swap” will be blaring in pubs and barbecues for years to come, Kennedy emerges victorious simply on the basis of a flag win.

It is highly unlikely that we will see another Kennedy. Or even a Mundy for that matter.

JK’s stature and power will increase with each medium strength beer shot at Optus Stadium. After the sound of the siren on Sunday, West Coast players will carry it awkwardly from the ground to a standing ovation.

The football funk will eventually evaporate, but damn JK will be sorely missed.

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