We tell our­selves just another game

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Work Place - With Josh Kennedy

OVER the past few weeks, I’ve been run­ning into peo­ple who wanted to dis­cuss the dif­fer­ent fi­nals sce­nar­ios that could un­fold.

I un­der­stand why the fans look at all the pos­si­bil­i­ties, but ev­ery­one in the West Coast Ea­gles was only ever fo­cused on the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. And that was the next game.

When we played our qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal against Hawthorn we were not fo­cused on any­thing ex­cept that game.

We cer­tainly weren’t think­ing of the ben­e­fit of hav­ing a week off from play­ing. But I have to say it’s a re­ward all of us en­joyed.

We had a pretty light week on the track, but the good thing was to have a cou­ple of open train­ing ses­sions so the fans could get down and have a look.

The fit­ness staff used the week as an op­por­tu­nity to freshen up and while we trained the same num­ber of times, the vol­ume of work was eased back a bit.

Be­cause we had so much rid­ing on ev­ery game in the run home, we couldn’t af­ford to rest play­ers in the last cou­ple of qual­i­fy­ing games, as Fre­man­tle and North Mel­bourne did in round 23. So our break came last week­end and it was much ap­pre­ci­ated.

There are play­ers who, like me, played ev­ery game of the sea­son. That’s a lot of footy. And while it is a de­mand­ing game, hav­ing that nu­cleus of play­ers avail­able for so many games is one of the rea­sons we were able to fin­ish sec­ond and earn two home fi­nals.

Now we’re get­ting ready for a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and that’s ex­cit­ing. We know what the prize is, but again we will fo­cus on what needs to be done, play to our game plan and we be­lieve if we do that it will be good enough to win. IMAG­INE be­ing a seven-year-old child, go­ing to a qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal watch­ing your team, the West Coast Ea­gles, beat the reign­ing pre­miers by 32 points.

Imag­ine the ex­cite­ment of cheer­ing your team to vic­tory, be­ing part of a Mex­i­can wave, singing the club song with about 40,000 other fans af­ter the big win and then head­ing down to the fence.

Imag­ine, hold­ing out your hand and hav­ing the play­ers give you a high-five as they celebrate.

And then, as if it can’t get any bet­ter than that, imag­ine Luke Shuey, one of your he­roes, lean­ing over the fence and ask­ing whether you want to join him on the oval.

And with that he picks you up and says ‘want to come down the rooms and sing the song with the boys?’

Imag­ine all that – ev­ery young sup­porter’s dream – and bring it to re­al­ity. Then you have the night of Jake Smethurst, a de­voted young West Coast fan who was at the ground with his grand­mother to watch the qual­i­fy­ing against Hawthorn.

One lucky young­ster is plucked from the crowd to join Ea­gles play­ers for the team song each time West Coast play at home.

On this oc­ca­sion it was Jake who ex­pe­ri­enced the once-in-a-life-time dream.

Jake was able to head down the race, hold­ing Luke’s hand, and then be part of the play­ers’ cir­cle as they sang to­gether, ‘We’re the Ea­gles, West Coast Ea­gles…’

His mother Kel­lie said he could hardly con­tain his ex­cite­ment when he raced through the doors of the fam­ily home.

“Jake is an avid Ea­gles sup­porter and has been vir­tu­ally since he was born,” Kel­lie said.

“My mother is a note­holder, so he went with her and was just so stoked when he came home.

“He was go­ing at a mil­lion miles an hour and was ab­so­lutely over the moon. He'll never for­get it.

“Be­cause it was a fi­nal, mum and Jake were not sit­ting in the usual seats and at the end of the game when he raced down to the fence he was un­der strict in­struc­tions to stay be­hind it. I guess he fig­ured when Luke in­vited him over it was OK.”

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