West Coast Eagles veteran Josh Kennedy signed off on his AFL career in style, earning a slice of history by kicking eight goals in his final game at a packed Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Kennedy’s remarkable feat was the second-most goals scored by any player in his final VFL/AFL game.
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Unfortunately for the 34-year-old, West Coast were unable to send him out a winner, suffering a 102-86 defeat at the hands of the Adelaide Crows.
Despite the result, Kennedy received a hero’s farewell, being chaired off the ground by a pair of teammates as both the Crows and Eagles playing squads formed a guard of honour.
Showing his class right to the end, Kennedy went to the trouble of making sure he shook the hand of every Adelaide player and staff member to thank them for the memorable send off.
Speaking after the contest, Kennedy was typically modest when discussing his extraordinary performance, giving much of the credit to his teammates.
“The boys fed me a fair bit,” Kennedy said.
“There was probably a lot of ball that came my way that it shouldn’t have.
“You (coach Adam Simpson) were probably yelling in the box but someone hand-balled over to Boots (Luke Shuey) and he was shoulders out, he had JD (Jack Darling) long inside 50 but he looked inboard to try and handball to me and Liam (Ryan) ended up stuffing the kick.
“I just thought, ‘boys let’s chill. We need to win this game. Let’s not focus on me'.”
Kennedy managed to keep his emotions in check throughout the contest, despite admitting there were occasions where the reality of the situation had dawned on him.
“It’s interesting finishing your last game for a while. I’ve never experienced it,” Kennedy explained.
“There was a few times pre game, at half time and at the end there where there were moments you know it’s finishing.
“I love being a part of those games, whether you win or lose, I love being a part of those close games.”
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) August 7, 2022
And a fair few of the staff too! I noticed he started with a fella in a polo and the poor bloke was a deer in headlights, did not expect it. Great by the AFC, especially considering it’s also a massive milestone for Laird 👍
— Max Allen (@BigMal84) August 7, 2022
— Wake Up Australia (@Randall1921) August 7, 2022
That right there was genuine respect & sportsmanship😍 How 1 act can show us the real meaning of the game. Equal shout out to out team who showed utmost respect & didn't leave the ground until JK had finished. Often see sides itching to get off the ground, so well done boys👏
— 🚀🛸QueenD🇦🇺🌏👩🔬🌸 (@QueenDissidence) August 7, 2022
Adam Simpson pays tribute to Josh Kennedy
Eagles coach Adam Simpson lauded Kennedy for signing off with such an impressive goal haul, while lamenting the fact West Coast were unable to farewell him with a victory.
“Can you imagine kicking eight in your last game?” Simpson said.
“Unfortunately in that last bit we couldn’t get the four points. But outside that, we tried our hardest.”
Kennedy paid tribute to the loyal West Coast fans who supported him throughout his 293-game career, which saw him win the 2018 Premiership and kick 723 goals.
“We as footballers, we’re out there to perform and it feels sometimes, I reckon the consensus is we give a lot to the fans, but they give us so much. They make our game great,” Kennedy said.
“They are the reason why we play football, and it’s not just home ground – all the fans of the AFL.
“I’ve been so lucky in my carer … it brings a tear to my eye. I can’t thank them enough.”
— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) August 1, 2022
Remarkable, Josh Kennedy.
Even with a loss, that’s the best moment in a horrible Eagles season.
What a legend. #AFLEaglesCrows
— Daniel Garb (@DanielGarb) August 7, 2022
Found myself oddly cheering for Josh Kennedy and I’m an @Adelaide_FC supporter!!!
What a way to go out…8.
PS, Fog continuing to build nicely
— Tim Verrall (@timverrall) August 7, 2022
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