Tuggeranong Hawks great Jay Kickett will break the club’s all-time appearance record this weekend, as he laces up the boots for his 234th first grade game.
Kickett’s remarkable feat will see him surpass Jim Rice’s current record of 233 games when he takes the field against Ainslie at Alan Ray Oval.
The man affectionately known as “Disco” made his first grade debut in 1996, and immediately began making waves in Canberra’s top-flight competition.
The new kid on the block enjoyed a break-out year in his first full year in the top grade, gaining his first Canberra representative jumper on his way to a grand final appearance.
Kickett soon garnered a reputation as a never-say-die player with an unquestionable commitment to the cause, highlighted by his three Tuggeranong ‘Most Consistent’ awards.
Opposition coaches began to take notice in 1998, and identified the exciting youngster as the player to stop if you were to have any chance at beating the Hawks.
Tags became the norm for the wingman, but he continued to palm off challenger after challenger on his way to another representative jumper.
Throughout his formative years in the top grade, his work ethic proved crucial to Tuggeranong’s success, delighting teammates and supporters alike.
Continued success saw Kickett rewarded with selection in Tuggeranong’s 2003 Silver Anniversary Team, named on the wing in a side stacked with icons of the club.
In 2004, Kickett was sidelined for five weeks with a broken jaw – an injury bad enough to make any player hesitant about attacking the ball.
This player, though, was something different.
Former coach Wally Gallio labelled the former Hawks Players’ Player winner “a consistent performer and a leader by action”, despite his injury woes.
“[The injury] didn’t hamper his hardness and commitment to winning the ball. Jay strived each week to be the best he could be to ensure that the team performance was the best it could be.”
Kickett hung up the boots in 2010 as one of the competition’s most admired players, but the allure of donning the brown and gold for just one more season proved too much to overcome.
After spending four seasons playing country footy, the former Tuggeranong Best and Fairest winner returned to the Hawks in 2015 in a bid to help his beloved club to glory.
Whilst the eight-time Canberra representative spent a number of years out of the limelight, it soon became clear that Kickett had not lost his fierce determination that made him one of the national capital’s best.
Kickett has shone for the Hawks in a stellar season that has them on track for a major semi-final appearance come September.
A fairy-tale premiership victory for the club legend is not out of the question, and it would be a just reward for great service to a proud club.
ARTICLE WRITTEN FOR AFL CANBERRA
(PHOTO: The Daily Advertiser. Jay (right) with brother Cody (left))