Kennedy cracks 200 in SAFL

GOOD footy clubs take enormous pride in player loyalty. And when a country footballer notches up 200 games for one club, that pride is increased tenfold.

The Summerland AFL’s Sam Kennedy today will become the third Ballina footballer to play 200 games for the club when the in-form Bombers host Lismore at Fripp Oval.

It is testament to the durability of Kennedy that he has played 200 games because, at first glance, there doesn’t seem to be too much of the tall, gangly defender.

For regular spectators at SAFL games, perhaps one of Kennedy’s signature plays is his sailing in from seemingly nowhere to pluck the ball from a soaring pack.

Team-mate and club president Maurice Lawless, who has played alongside Kennedy for three years, paid tribute to the man they call ‘Slammin’.

“He is ‘Mr Consistent’,” Lawless said.

“You’re just a whole lot more confident when you’re playing alongside someone with his experience and knowledge of the game.

“Playing from full-back and centre half-back, as Sam does, you see a lot of the game and he will play man-on-man or run off on set plays.

“And just his way of marking the ball out of nowhere. He’s a not a big guy and there’s not a lot of muscle but he seems to just pluck the ball out of the air.”

Among Kennedy’s honours of 15 years in football are numerous best-and-fairest awards, club captaincy and playing in four Ballina premierships and several grand finals.

Lawless’ best anecdote of Kennedy comes from just three weeks ago against all-conquering Tweed Coast at Pottsville.

Stationed at full-back, the Tigers’ full-forward began to ‘get into’ Kennedy off the ball. Before you knew it, Lawless said, his team-mate was standing toe-to-toe with the Tigers’ Goliath yet was still standing.

Kennedy joins Ballina clubmen Craig Borley and Brad Scofield in the 200-game club.

In other games today, Byron play Tweed Coast at Pottsville, and Nimbin host Coolangatta.

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