West Coast champion Josh Kennedy has called time on his outstanding career, with the goalkicking great set to bid farewell in the Eagles’ final home game against Adelaide at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
One of the most decorated Eagles in club history, Kennedy will hang up the boots after extracting everything from his body across 17 seasons at the elite level.
The 34-year-old will depart the game as West Coast’s leading goalkicker (currently 704 goals), a three-time All-Australian, dual Coleman medallist and premiership player in 2018.
Kennedy will also sit outright fourth on the club’s games played list when he moves ahead of former Eagles captain Darren Glass in his 271st and last appearance in blue and gold.
“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,” Kennedy said.
“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 learnt so much from champions like Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Mark LeCras.
“One of the biggest things I’ve wanted to do over my career is to have respect from my teammates - that’s always driven how I acted, trained or tried to play.
“My knee is a big reason for retiring. I think 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.”
Drafted by Carlton at pick No.4 overall from East Fremantle in 2005, Kennedy somewhat reluctantly agreed to be involved in the famous trade that sent West Coast premiership captain Chris Judd to the Blues at the end of 2007.
Such has been Kennedy’s excellence in the 15 years since that many consider that trade a win for the Eagles - who also secured the pick that became premiership player and 215-gamer Chris Masten - despite Judd winning his second Brownlow Medal after returning home to Melbourne.
“Josh Kennedy’s legacy will remain at the West Coast Eagles forever,” West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett said.
“We have been fortunate to have many great players come through the doors of our club over our 35 years and 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.
“But 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, including his commitment to MSWA and fundraising for his home town of Northampton when it was severely impacted by cyclone Seroja last year, are just two examples.
“He is an Eagle for life and we have been blessed to have him here for the last 15 seasons.”
Kennedy began his West Coast career under John Worsfold and was on the trajectory towards fulfilling his enormous potential by the time Adam Simpson took the coaching reins at the end of 2013.
The best years of his career coincided with the Eagles re-emerging as regular finalists under Simpson, with Kennedy winning the first of back-to-back Coleman Medals in 2015 when he booted 80 goals and West Coast surprised many by reaching the Grand Final.
He was named the All-Australian full-forward in three consecutive seasons (2015-17), was runner-up in the John Worsfold Medal in ’16 and clinched his sixth club leading goalkicker award at the end of 2017.
But the crowning moment of his career came in 2018, when Kennedy was a critical part of the team that claimed the ultimate success in the heart-stopping five-point Grand Final victory over Collingwood.
Kennedy was West Coast’s only multiple goalkicker on the day with three crucial majors, and had 18 disposals and took 11 marks as the Eagles claimed their fourth premiership.
“Josh is going to be one of the game’s greats and one of the club’s greats,” coach Adam Simpson said.
“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 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.”
Josh Kennedy career highlights
- West Coast Eagles all-time leading goalkicker (currently 704 goals). Ranked 24th for most goals in VFL/AFL history
- Seven-time club 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 (270) behind Shannon Hurn (317), Dean Cox (290) and Glen Jakovich (276).
- Runner-up best and fairest 2016; 3rd-place in 2013
- Three-time All-Australian – 2015 (vice-captain), 2016, 2017 (vice-captain)
- Two-time Coleman medallist – 2015 and ’16
- 2018 premiership player
- Chris Mainwaring Medal as best clubman in 2015
- Three-time Glendinning-Allan medallist in an RAC Derby
- West Coast vice-captain 2014-2020