Jack Kenna’s love of footy endures

Jack, what was it like growing up in such a big family?

Popular: Footy identity Jack Kenna. Here he is pictured with Kolora-Noorat's club championship award back in 2013.

Popular: Footy identity Jack Kenna. Here he is pictured with Kolora-Noorat's club championship award back in 2013.

It was great. With so many siblings, there was always enough of us around to play a game of cricket, tennis or footy.

We had other big families from farms around the district who wanted to come over and play various sports.

We used to have some wonderful days on the farm.

The original farm, which was on The Sisters and Ellerslie Road, had more than 350 acres.

I can still remember we had the old walk through dairy and we milked about 180 cows.

For the last 50 years, the farm we’ve been on is on the Garvoc-The Sisters Road and is over 584 acres. We’ve got more than 230 cows.

My parents needed to put in a succession plan going forward because they had so many children.

I ended up taking over the family farm in 1989.

I love the lifestyle a farm offers. It’s outside work, which keeps you fit and healthy. There’s always something to do on the farm.

Jack, how old were you when you started playing competitive footy?

I was 13 years old when I started playing for Kolora in the old Mount Noorat Football League.

I played in under 17 premiership sides in 1973 and 1974.

The old Mount Noorat Football League comprised of sides including Hexham, Ecklin, Panmure and Noorat.

They were great old days.

Football back in that era was very physical. I suppose you could call it brutal on some occasions.

The rules have been tightened up for footy over the years and they needed to be.

Can you remember when you made your senior debut with Kolora?

Yes, it was in 1976. We never had a seconds team, so I went straight into the senior side.

I played in the seniors with Kolora until 1984, then I went and played for Grassmere. I came back to Kolora in 1988 as the chairman of selectors. We lost four senior grand finals at Kolora in four years from 1988. It was a tough time for the club to get into the grand final and to lose them.

I’ll never forget the 1989 grand final. We were 21 points up against Noorat at the 19 minute-mark of the final quarter and got beat by one point – that was a gut-wrenching result.

I joined the committee at Terang Mortlake – I think it was in 2001 – for a few years before going back out to Kolora where I joined the committee again, and now I’m back in at Terang Mortlake as the president.

One of the toughest things in footy administration is when clubs merge. You’ve witnessed two mergers very closely, namely when Terang joined up with Mortlake and when Kolora and Noorat amalgamated. What is your spin on mergers?

It’s tough on clubs and local towns that strive to have an identity.

I don’t care what anyone says, football clubs are the heartbeat of any country town. Football-netball clubs keep the towns going.

They offer so many important things to local communities.

We’ve got farmers working long hours who don’t get the chance to speak to anyone during the day, but they can go to the footy club on a Thursday night and have a couple of beers and a meal and talk to people.

They can go to a game of footy on a Saturday and talk to people.

It does not matter what you talk about, it’s all about just talking. Having an unwind. We all need to have an unwind.

One of the saddest things I can still remember is when the Yambuk footy club folded.

What can you remember about the Yambuk footy club folding?

I can remember a farmer from out that way say he hadn’t seen his neighbours for so long because there was no footy. The neighbours used to catch up at the footy, but when the club folded they never caught up because they were too busy working their farms.

It was really sad and that’s when problems develop.

It’s well known that blokes keep things boiled up inside themselves and that is not really good.

I think the mergers that you mentioned, Terang and Mortlake and the Kolora and Noorat one, have worked out pretty good.

It’s not saying they never had tough times at various stages, but they have gone from strength to strength which is  wonderful for the local communities.

We’re seeing younger families getting involved at both clubs now which is a positive result, not only for footy and netball but for the area. It all means there’s a meeting place to have a talk and a catch up.

I would say there will be more mergers at country clubs in various leagues in the future as clubs are struggling for players. It’s just going to be part of the landscape going forward.

What’s the financial situation of the Terang Mortlake Football Netball Club like in 2018?

Let’s say we pay our bills and keep our lights on through the support of generous sponsors and fans.

It’s not easy for any country club to survive, but we’ve got a great band of volunteers and a committee that works in together.

Jack, away from your footy commitments are you involved in any other sports?

I used to play tennis out at The Sisters but the club folded many years ago, which was really disappointing.

I love having a hit of golf at the East Framlingham Golf Club. I’m a past president of the club and been on the committee for years. It’s a great nine-hole golf course.

The saddest thing is my handicap has blown out from 19 to 30. I’ve got to work on that during the spring and summer months.