Eagle forward Josh Kennedy and Port forward Steven Motlop both announced their retirements ahead of Round 21. The game against the Crows was Kennedy's last while Motlop bowed out immediately. Kennedy, 34, was expected to retire at the end of the season, but a knee issue saw him decide to call time sooner. He was originally drafted by Carlton and played for the Blues for two seasons before being traded to the Eagles in exchange for Chris Judd. Many believe the Eagles got the better of the deal given Kennedy's longevity and goal scoring, in spite of Judd winning his second Brownlow Medal with the Blues.
In a club statement Kennedy said, “It’s been a privilege to play so many years at this great football club and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent the West Coast Eagles and Carlton There are so many people to thank for helping me on the journey over 17 years. Obviously my wife Lauren and daughters Sage and Lottie, my family who always supported me, coaches John Worsfold and Adam Simpson, club staff and of course my teammates. Footy and the West Coast Eagles have given me so much and I’ve loved the journey. I’ve made lifelong friendships and learned so much from champions like Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Mark LeCras ... My knee is a big reason ... my drive to play is still there, but I’m realistic my body is not going to be able to take me to another season. To be able to farewell West Coast supporters one last time at Optus Stadium and say thank you for the incredible support over the years will be the perfect way to finish my career.”
He finishes his career with 293 games and 723 goals (he kicked eight against Adelaide in his last game). His 80 goals in the 2016 home and away season (82 total) remains the most in a season since 2009. Kennedy rejected an assistant role with Fremantle to sign a one-year contract extension at the end of 2021.
Current teammate Andrew Gaff spoke on SEN Radio and paid tribute to Kennedy, “A few of us were talking the other day where he stands in terms of the club, and he’s got to be right up there. “I think what I admire about him the most is his ability to get himself up every week… I’ve never seen someone limp around and struggle ,,, every week but then find a way ... He takes such pride in his performance and he’s been a massive reason we’ve been such a successful team ... He’s been such an important leader for me and a good role model for the younger boys ... ”.
West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett said, “Josh Kennedy’s legacy will remain ... We have been fortunate to have many great players ... Josh ranks with the best of them. His achievements compare to the greatest in the history of the game. He is our highest-ever goalkicker and one of our most durable players ... his on-field achievements are only part of the story. He has been a guiding light for our younger players, but also a significant contributor across the broader community. His philanthropic work ... and fundraising for his home town of Northampton when it was severely impacted by cyclone Seroja last year, are just two examples ... ".
Coach Adam Simpson echoed the sentiments of Nisbett and Gaff, “Josh is going to be one of the game’s greats and one of the club’s greats. What he’s done in my time at the club, it’s just been a pleasure to see and watch. Coleman Medals, the ability to stand up in big games. Clutch, not just goals, but clutch moments. I can remember the prelim against North Melbourne in 2015 where we were 20 points down, hadn’t scored a goal, and he took this contested mark 50m (55 yards) out and just rolled and slotted it. That just sums him up. He’s a big-game player, but he also loves his teammates and loves his club. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest.”
WCE all-time leading goalkicker. Ranked 24th for most goals in VFL/AFL history
WCE leading goalkicker 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020 – equal-most tied with Peter Sumich
Equal fourth-most games played in West Coast history (273) behind Shannon Hurn (317), Dean Cox (290) and Glen Jakovich (276)
Runner-up best and fairest 2016; 3rd-place in 2013
All-Australian – 2015 (vice-captain), 2016, 2017 (vice-captain)
Coleman medalist – 2015 and 2016
2018 premiership player
Chris Mainwaring Medal as best clubman in 2015
Three-time Glendinning-Allan medalist WA Derby
West Coast vice-captain 2014-2020
Stephen Motlop played 217 games and kicked 229 goals across 14 seasons. Motlop, 31, says he will have fond memories of his career despite never having played in a Grand Final. He played in five preliminary finals - all losses. Three of those losses were when he played for his original club Geelong (135 games 2010 - 2017). He played a further 82 games for Port Adelaide, joining the club as a free agent. There is a rich history connected to the Motlop name. and Port Adelaide. His brother Daniel played for six seasons with the Power between 2006-2011, and his cousin Marlon also represented the club between 2008-2011. Nephew Jesse was drafted by Carlton and has already played some senior games this year. Stephen said the family links were a major factor in his decision to join the Port. And it is just not the family links but a coaching link as well. Port Coach Ken Hinkley was an assistant at Geelong when Motlop was there.
When making the announcement, Motlop said, "14 years is a long time in the game ... It was always a childhood dream to play AFL and I'll always be grateful to Geelong and to Port Adelaide for giving me the opportunity ... As a kid you just want to play in finals. I played in five preliminary finals and while it would have been nice to have won one, playing in those big games alongside my teammates is something I'll always look back on fondly ... I hope I leave with people thinking is we’re hard trainers, good at footy .. and even better people off the field. That is how I was raised ... It is great to have a history here ... I always will see this as a big part of my life.” He joked about how he loved training - except for the 1 and 3 km runs (6.2 and 1.85 miles respectively).
He spoke of how difficult it was to leave Darwin, but said both clubs helped him become the person he is today, "(Geelong and Port Adelaide) have shaped me as a person ... being a long way from Darwin, at 17 - I rang my Dad crying and he got straight in the car and drove from Darwin to Geelong and helped me through my career ... You love every teammate. I definitely have made some great friends at both Geelong and Port Adelaide.”
He believes the club has some great young players coming through and believes they can win a Grand Final in the next few years and said he would be cheering them on from Darwin. He plans to return home and play with a local club.
Motlop departs with admiration of Hinkley and gratitude for the coach's strong support, “I always have had a great connection with Ken ... We have a similar sense of humor and a similar way to see life. He has been a great help ... Ken always has been honest and we have had a great connection. I always will be thankful to Ken.”
The feeling is mutual with Hinkley saying, “Steven is such a popular person - and such a loveable person. He has brought a lot of smiles to my face.” One moment that surely had a huge smile on HInkley's face was a Showdown in 2018 when Motlop dodged several Crow players to kick the winning goal with just 24 seconds left on the clock. Mot;op spoke of that play, "I was pretty lucky. As a player, you want to be in those situations. I was lucky I kicked the goal. It is definitely a highlight. My nephews and nieces always show it to me ..."
Hinkley said beyond Motlop's skills, speed and work rate, the classy forward had always been a good teammate," ... He brought great energy to our football club ... There are young players at our club today who prepare better for what Steven showed them. Steven is one of the good guys in footy rooms. He makes you smile. ... he just makes people happy."
Source: afl.com., sen.com.au, Port Adelaide Media Release, Travis King, WCE Media Release
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 09, 2022 - 7:29 AM EDT