Ben and Josh Parkinson had little to do with each other outside of family functions growing up, but the respect for their football careers runs deep.
The cousins face off as coaches for the first time when Dennington and Allansford clash in the Warrnambool and District league match of the round.
Ben, in the midst of a second stint coaching Dennington, has guided his side to a 6-3 record and fifth spot after nine rounds.
Josh has gone slightly better in his second year at Allansford. The Cats have lost just once, only because of an after-the-siren goal, and sit second.
Of the two, only one Parkinson will be in the thick of the action. Strangely enough it’s Ben, who started the season with no intentions of playing.
Josh, who had every intention of playing, has been struck down with a shoulder injury, having already recovered from off-season foot surgery.
“We didn’t do a hell of a lot outside of family functions. Josh is a few years younger than me,” Ben said this week.
“We always played against each other when he was at North Warrnambool (Eagles) and I was at Warrnambool.
“We’re all pretty close as cousins. I’ve kept an eye on his football career. He was one of the first guys to play 100 games for the club.
“He’s doing a good job in his second year at Allansford. He’s assembled a pretty good side.”
Josh said he held Ben, a former premiership player who has also spent time as an assistant at Koroit, in high regard.
“There is a bit of an age difference with us. Apart from family catch-ups, we didn’t have much to do with each other, but there’s good respect there,” he said.
“Whenever we get together we’re always talking about footy and how everything is going. I’ve got the utmost respect for Ben and what he’s achieved.”
But the pair will have to cast aside family loyalties when four valuable points and the Adams-Pole Cup go on the line at Dennington Recreation Reserve today.
A Dennington triumph will ease some of the pressure associated with the Dogs’ fight for an elimination final berth.
Allansford could move three games clear inside the top five with victory, provided either Old Collegians or Kolora-Noorat lose.
The Cats welcomed back Justin Nowell and Dave Pullen at the selection table, while the Dogs regained gutsy onballer Jono Nevill.
Both coaches pinpointed the midfield battle as crucial.
“Contested ball is going to be important,” Ben said.
“If we give them easy supply to Nowell and (Brad) Williams and (Darren) Kelly if he’s up there, our back six will have no chance.
“It’s the same with any back six, if there’s no midfield pressure and forward line pressure, they’re going to be hard to stop.”
“That’s where all games are won and lost,” he said.
“If we can get our fair share of ball through the midfield, we feel we’ve got a good enough attack to put a score on the board.