West Coast coach Adam Simpson has marveled at Josh Kennedy’s extraordinary performance in his final game after he kicked eight goals to write himself into AFL history.
No player in the history of the national competition has kicked more goals in his final match and only Fred Fanning, who kicked a VFL record 18 goals in 1947 before walking away from the Melbourne Football Club as a 25-year-old, had a better last game than Kennedy.
“Can you imagine kicking eight goals in your last game? It will probably never happen again,” Simpson said.
“I was just so happy for him and for what the boys were trying to do. To get rewarded and have a game like that – unfortunately we couldn’t get that last bit and get the four points.”
Kennedy turned back the clock with his effort during the 16-point loss to Adelaide. He hadn’t kicked eight goals in a game since 2016. No player had managed eight goals throughout the league this season and Kennedy equaled Lance Franklin’s record for the most goals at Optus Stadium.
He said it became obvious early that his teammates wanted him to finish his career with a bag of goals.
“Someone handballed to Boots, he was shoulders out and we had JD long inside the 50 and he looked inboard to try to handball it back to me. That was probably the moment,” Kennedy said.
“I’m so grateful I was able to finish on my terms thanks to Simmo and the club. To be able to have a game like that where, even though we didn’t get the win, it was great to be out there. It was a good answer.”
An emotional Kennedy said he felt numb at the end of the match. He ran onto the field with his children from him, through a guard of honor from family and friends, then had his mum toss the coin. Kennedy also wore a black arm band and pointed to it after a goal as a tribute to his best friend’s Nanna who recently passed away.
Former West Coast teammates Mark LeCras, Adam Selwood and Quinten Lynch were among the 50,117 people in attendance, along with ex-coach John Worsfold.
Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn chaired Kennedy from the field before he did a lap of honor after the match.
While he dominated, Kennedy said his body reminded him of why he retired.
“The knee is a little bit sore,” he said.
“The knee was the same as it always has been. You feel good early and then it slowly starts to kick in after a few knocks. I won’t have to get up for more games now so I’ll be able to rest it and settle down. Hopefully it gets mended over the next couple of months.”