BEN Kenna’s first success as Kolora-Noorat coach was instrumental in convincing the club faithful that a merger six years earlier was the right way forward.
Kenna ended his six-season tenure in charge on Saturday, the Power sending him out with an upset 55-point victory against minor premier Panmure.
He steered the club to Warrnambool and District league premierships in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and a losing grand final in 2012.
Kolora-Noorat president Trevor Beasley was among those who this week sung the praises of the respected defender and popular clubman.
Beasley said the ’09 triumph against Timboon Demons was crucial in convincing fans the 2003 merger of former Heytesbury-Mount Noorat league clubs was right.
Daniel Beard led the Power to a heartbreaking grand final defeat to the Demons in ’08, with Kenna masterminding an emphatic response 12 months later.
“You’d call it perceived pressure. The community needed the club to be successful. We hadn’t had that success yet. We’d gone close with Beardy,” Beasley said.
“The pressure was definitely building. It was more a relief for Ben and everyone. The first flag was more relief than a celebration.
“Without a doubt it was something that had to be done to bring it all together, finalise what we’d done was the right way to go. The pressure was definitely there and Ben was the one that felt it as much as anything.”
Beasley highlighted the importance of Kenna staying on in 2014, despite the Power losing key personnel and dropping out of flag contention.
“The legacy Ben will leave, apart from his three flags, is the fact he’s played junior kids this year with the sub rule,” Beasley said.
“All those kids who played senior footy have another year left of juniors in them and most of them look like they’ll make the grade.”
Former president and long-time club stalwart Jack Kenna was another who acknowledged the influence Ben Kenna had during his tenure.
“I think the main legacy he leaves is his coaching, his ball use, his discipline,” he said.
“When he coached at the Power they were a very disciplined team and they used the ball so well.
“He knew they had to use the ball well. Generally speaking, they weren’t always the biggest team.”
The stalwart recalled the outgoing coach helping Terang Mortlake to the 2008 Hampden league flag by keeping Warrnambool gun Jason Rowan goalless.
“They were very lucky to get him in 2009. He still had Hampden league football left in him,” he said.
Kolora-Noorat captain Jono Gleeson said Kenna set the example for his teammates by standing tall in big matches.
“Being a playing coach, you underestimate how good they are because they don’t get in the best players,” he said.
“Beagle, he always led from the front. The bigger the game, the better he played.”
Kenna will use the off-season to decide whether he will play on.
He will be 36 by the time round one, 2015 rolls around.
His playing record — nine senior and one reserves flag — would be close to unmatched in country Victorian football.
The senior flags came with Kolora (1995-96, 2001), Terang Mortlake (2004-05, 2008) and Kolora-Noorat (2009-10-11).
The reserves triumph was with the Bloods in 2002 while he has potentially played more than 300 matches.