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The Age

Bloodline runs true as a third-generation Kennedy takes his place at Hawthorn

Date: 20/07/2006
Words: 593
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 2
"YOU better get a game, son."

With those steely, yet supportive, words from his grandfather, 18-year-old Josh Kennedy yesterday become the third generation of his family to pledge allegiance to the Hawthorn Football Club.

Surrounded by seven of the silver premiership cups his father John Kennedy jnr and grandfather John Kennedy snr helped snare, the 188-centimetre teenager looked every bit a footballer and said he was "proud" to be drafted to the Hawks under the father-son rule.

His debut, when it comes, will be the first time the Hawks have had three generations from the same family represent the club.

Kennedy snr coached the Hawks in 298 games and steered the club to its first three premierships. He was at the helm from 1960 to 1963 and again from 1967 to 1976. His strict, disciplinarian style and rousing speeches are the stuff of legend.

His son played 241 games between 1979 and 1991, is 11th on Hawthorn's list for most games played and was a member of the 1983, 1986, 1988 and 1989 premiership sides.

The Hawks will use their third-round pick in this year's national draft to secure Kennedy, as revealed by The Age on Tuesday. Kennedy last week returned for Xavier College after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee.

In just nine TAC Cup games last year with the Sandringham Dragons, he collected enough votes to finish second in the club's best-and-fairest count.

A versatile player with a strong body, the youngest of the Kennedy clan has already been identified by the Hawks as capable of playing half-back, half-forward or in the midfield.

With the weight of expectation already on his considerable shoulders, Kennedy said being drafted was his "first step", with "a lot of hard work to be done".

His father agreed, saying it was now up to his son to make his own impression upon the club. "He's certainly got the resources at his disposal to enable him to give it the best shot he can," Kennedy jnr said.

Seated beneath a painting of Hawthorn's team of the century and with coach Alastair Clarkson at his side, Kennedy said it was "a huge privilege" to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

With other stalwarts of "the family club" looking on - including Allan Jeans and David Parkin - Kennedy snr said the club was "a big part of my life, John's too, and I hope it will be just as big a part of Josh's life. Football can be a very slippery slope, but he's with a great club. I hope his presence enhances the club and he can contribute a lot of games, but the first thing to do is earn a place in the side."

Clarkson said he was delighted Kennedy had committed to the Hawks but was quick to point out there was plenty of work ahead of the young footballer before making his senior debut. "The hardest work is yet to be done and he acknowledges that, which is great," Clarkson said. "He comes from pretty good stock ... we're really excited."

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