Eastern Reporter Bayswater & Bassendean
Brother makes his point
A HEALTHY dose of sibling rivalry is behind the kicking prowess of recent Eagles draftee Ben Johnson.
It was no secret at WAFL club West Perth that the 18year-old was one of the best kicks behind retired onetime Eagle Andrew Strijk.
His football pedigree helped – he’s the nephew of former East Perth-turned-Falcons legend George Michalczyk – but kicking games with older brother Matt (25) on the street outside their childhood home in Long Reef Place, Hillarys, honed his skills.
The pair would line up the light pole across the road and, in another game, kick the football at each other from certain distances, a practice father Steve admitted could get quite heated.
“They would kick the ball as hard as they could at each other,” he said.
Ben, who also kicked around as a youngster with cousins Nick and Ryan Michalczyk, recalled the kicking game with Matt would start with each brother 10m apart and extend further out, with points lost if one dropped the ball or had to move to receive it.
“The two of us were always on the road kicking with each other,” Ben said.
“We played the first to hit the light pole five times to get your eye in and be quite accurate.
“We were even at the start. But towards the end, I started to get the upper edge on him.”
Would Matt mind him saying that?
“He wouldn’t mind,” Ben said.
“He admitted I’m the better footballer in the family.
“He took a while to say it but I got it out of him.”
Matt, a carpenter working in London, confirmed he had relented on who was the better player after being able to brag he had debuted for West Perth first (he played last season with the Royals) and kicked more league goals.
Matt fessed up to his brother over the phone after running “straight home” from his UK worksite to make the call excited and “pretty emotional” on hearing his brother had been selected by the Eagles with pick 58.
“I finally admitted he was better than me; he drafted, me not,” Matt said.
Making an AFL list is the stuff of dreams for Ben.
“There are no words to describe it, being the opening of the future,” he said.
“To do what you love doing full-time is a dream come true.”
A dream that started from a young age.
“He was barely walking and he had a footy in his hands,” dad Steve said.