The footballing family tree that spans nine AFL clubs

Sydney’s Josh Kennedy announced his retirement on Tuesday, the most recent player to do so from a footballing family tree that spreads in so many directions that encouraging the toddlers in the clan to support a specific team is proving a harder task than it would be in many families.

Sophie Maguire is well known in football media circles as the tireless organiser of the Australian Football Media Association Awards, which opened nominations on Tuesday ahead of the association’s awards night on Tuesday, September 13.

Josh Kennedy is a member of a sprawling football family.Credit:Jessica Hromas

Maguire caught up last week with the committee to discuss details as to how the night would run. Also discussed was the subject of who her newborn boy Sebastian might barrack for in the future – their two daughters Cleo, 7, and Mimi, 4, lean slightly to the Swans.

When you hear the family connections, you will understand the Maguire dilemma.

Sophie is the daughter of former Richmond and South Melbourne player Ray Ball and the sister of former Saint and Magpie Luke Ball and former Hawk Matthew Ball. She is married to Matt Maguire, the former Saint and Brisbane Lions defender, who has a great uncle, Colin Watson, in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Watson won the 1925 Brownlow Medal and played 93 games for St Kilda.

It doesn’t end there. Sophie’s cousin is Sydney’s Josh Kennedy, the son of John Kennedy jnr (who won four flags at Hawthorn) and the grandson of the late John Kennedy (a legend at Hawthorn and former coach of North Melbourne). The connection came when John Kennedy jnr married Bernadette Russo, the sister of Sophie’s mum Jennifer.

Of course Jennifer and Bernadette’s brother is Hawks premiership player Peter Russo, who also played for the Saints, following in the footsteps of his father Felix, who played 14 games for the Saints in the early ’50s. And if that wasn’t enough, Matt Maguire’s aunt Geraldine (his dad John’s sister) was married to the late Paul Couch, the Brownlow medallist with Geelong, meaning his cousin is Tom Couch, who played for Melbourne. Almost all bases are covered.

Good pedigree around Luke BallCredit:Sebastian Costanzo

Cleo and Mimi could be picked up as father-daughter selections for Brisbane and St Kilda, but their younger brother will not be eligible as father-son pick in the future as their dad’s career at St Kilda ended on 99 games and at Brisbane on 71 games. The threshold in the men’s competition is 100 games, whereas in the women’s competition it is just one.

But a big decision looms for the youngest Maguires, who could choose to support Hawthorn, St Kilda, Collingwood, Richmond, Sydney, North Melbourne, Geelong, Melbourne or Brisbane based on family connections.

You just know Sebastian will be a Blues fanatic, don’t you?

The other Josh Kennedy’s farewell can’t be topped, or can it?

West Coast’s Josh Kennedy kicked eight goals on Sunday in an amazing finale to an outstanding career, but we doubt anyone will go out as on top as Richmond’s David Cloke did in 1991.

Cloke not only kicked eight in his final match but polled three Brownlow votes for best on ground in each of his final three games at the age of 36.

“I played 333 games, wore No.33 for most of my career and got three Brownlow votes in each of my last three games,” Cloke said.

Of course, Cloke was wearing No.16 in those final games, as a young Matthew Knights was already wearing No.33 when Cloke returned to Richmond from Collingwood in 1990.

Tiger David Cloke takes a mark during the 1980 Grand Final.Credit:Fairfax Archives

Coincidentally, Knights was in the Eagles’ coach’s box when Kennedy put on his show on Sunday.

Cloke’s memorable finale almost didn’t happen, however. He was beaten so badly in the ruck in the first quarter against Carlton, many in the coach’s box wanted to retire him early and get him off the ground.

Richmond had big Ty Esler on the bench raring to go into the ruck his first match, but Kevin Bartlett – who was coaching his last game – decided the veteran deserved time on the ground in his farewell, so he moved Cloke to the forward pocket.

Cloke, who had kicked one goal in his previous 33 games, didn’t let his premiership teammate down in what would prove Bartlett’s last great move as coach, and began piling on the goals.

“Some kicks didn’t go straight. Actually, they went straight, but they didn’t go through in the proper way,” Cloke said.

The festival of Cloke kicked in with four goals in the final quarter, including his eighth and last, when he told his opponent Peter Dean he was going to kick a reverse torpedo when lining up. He hit it perfectly.

It took three people to carry him from the MCG after the win, with his teammates straggling behind him and his Carlton opponents nowhere to be seen.

Football loved Olivia Newton-John, a true Blue

There will be plenty of Australians mourning Olivia Newton-John’s death, but Carlton supporters in particular would be entitled to be singing Blue eyes crying in the rain as her fondness for the Blues was well known. In fact, Australia’s parliamentary speaker pointed out Newton-John was a Carlton supporter when she appeared in the parliamentary gallery in 2017.

The many versions of Olivia Newton-John.

Newton-John wore the Koala Blue jacket on to the arena when belting out the national anthem before the 1986 grand final between Carlton and Hawthorn, which the Blues lost.

Newton-John also performed a duet with Sam Newman on The Footy Show in 2005, two years after appearing alongside Andrew Demetriou on the desk in 2003 to raise money for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre.

Footy Show host Eddie McGuire announced then that Demetriou was going to be a candidate for the AFL CEO gig.

Melbourne legend Jim Stynes also sung backing vocals for Newton-John when she performed before a Carlton-Melbourne match in 2011 to raise cancer awareness.

It’s fitting that the two clubs do battle this Saturday night.

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