Kieren Jack – Hero to the Dodson boys (and their old man!): Farewell thoughts

The piece first appeared on the Swans website.




“Kieren, you are my favourite player, please don’t retire.” My seven year old son Jack shyly put out his request as he approached Kieren at the Swans kids’ clinic in Melbourne on the weekend. Kieren politely batted away the question and advised that he was yet to make a decision. You only get one first-ever favourite player and for my little man, I’m proud to say, it was Kieren Jack.


As I picked Jack up yesterday from school I broke the news. The poor little fella was crestfallen. The impact a sportsperson can have on a youngster is profound. After a kick of the footy in the front yard his mood had brightened. “Can we go to Sydney for his last game? he asked.


Unfortunately, finances won’t allow a last minute dash (gee I wish the National Australia Bank didn’t own 97% of my house!).


We settled on watching some highlights of Kieren’s career on Youtube and by bedtime the smile was back on the face of my little man.


As a kid growing up in Wagga Wagga I had Garry Jack’s poster on my wall. Three decades later my son had Kieren Jack’s. I think that says it all in regards to what an achievement it has been for the son of Rugby League royalty to have the courage to forge his own path and create such a legacy at the Sydney Swans.


Following both the Balmain Tigers and Swans as a kid, I was naturally very excited when Kieren came on the scene. In my mind I had a link to the kid. A sense of connection forged through the deeds of his father. I wanted him to do well and crossed my fingers as the raw youngster developed over time. I couldn’t have imagined the player he turned into.


When my son Jack started to get into football at age three, I gave him a gentle nudge (Mrs D says it was almost a shirtfront) in the direction of Kieren when it came time to choosing a number for his first footy jumper. Initially Jack just thought it was cool that a player simply had Jack in his name. Over time his appreciation grew and it was Kieren’s tackling and goal-sense that Jack gravitated towards.


For me I just loved his competitive spirit. This was never more evident than when the Swans played the Giants and Kieren came across his old premiership teammate Shane ‘Mummy’ Mumford. Big Mummy liked to throw his weight around and despite Kieren giving away about 30kg, he always seemed to be throwing his body into Mumford and genuinely enjoying engaging in some niggle.


Over the years we have had several interactions with Kieren and he has always been extremely polite and accommodating. In particular one photo stands out. My then two year old son Harry is attached to poor old Kieren (perhaps Harry was flagging himself as a future tagger), while the elder Jack is looking on in awe. A few years later we got the photo signed and it sits proudly on my bedside table – a precious memory in time.


At the end of the day that it what football is about to me. There are wins and losses, highs and lows, yet it is the memories and family experiences that stand the true test of time. I’ll long remember the day young Jack wore his Kieren Jack jumper to bed excitedly the day he got it signed. I’ll remember searching the house for three hours trying to find a lost Kieren Jack Lego figure. I’ll remember the simple joy of watching on the couch alongside my boys as Kieren kicked a goal. These memories will last longer than the simple wins and losses.


Last night we packed away Jack’s first autographed Kieren Jack jumper. It will now sit in a storage box, hopefully for Jack to take with him when he leaves the Dodson nest. A precious memory about his first-ever favourite football player and a reminder of when he fell in love with the game.


In a day and age where there are some questionable sports role models out there, it is with great pride that I can say I encouraged my son to hitch his little wagon to Kieren Jack. A player that was loyal, competitive and possessed a never give in spirit. The ultimate role model.


On behalf of the Dodson tribe (both big and small) we say THANK YOU Kieren and all the best for where the future takes you.


  1. Jack has politely asked if you could kick a lazy seven goals on the weekend.



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About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

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