As the football world prepares for finals, we reflect back on the 2015 season, a season that has been hugely successful for the Pennant Hills football club. The year has delivered some unforgettable moments, stunning wins, remarkable individual efforts and some significant milestones. When looking back on the season that was, it seems fitting that we relive what has to be one of the most special occasions of the year, an occasion that saw father and son take the field together, a day when Michael and Joel Cousens donned the red and blue Demons colours to play in the same team.
The Cousens family is one of the most loved families in the Demons community. Michael Cousens, or ‘Cuz’, as he is better known, is a dual premiership coach, and a club legend, leading the Demons to the premier division premiership in the years of 2006 and 2008. Cuz is the arguably the most successful coach Pennant Hills has ever seen. Cuz’s coaching resume is nearly flawless and his footy nous is admired by all who step through the club’s doors. Cuz stepped down from the role of head coach in 2009 to spend more time with his three young sons, but was still heavily involved in the direction the club was moving in.
Flash-forward to 2015, and the eldest of these three sons, Joel, has developed into a young man, a footballer like his dad, who loves the club and loves the game. Like his dad, Joel has been involved with the football club for a very large portion of his life. A love affair that started at a very young age, thanks to Cuz I bet. He played juniors at the Pennant Hills Junior football club, and was a regular feature at his Dad’s games, seemingly present in every photo of the premiership teams his dad coached. Joel quite obviously has inherited his red and blue blood.
So when the opportunity to play together fell to both Michael and Joel late in the season, there was never an alternative. The boys would play together, and it would be great. Word quickly spread amongst the club and everyone wanted to peek in, I mean it’s not very often that a father and son play a game of football together. That day, more supporters than usual watched the division five game, everyone was keen to see which Cousen would have the better share of the footy, and no one wanted to miss the moment their boots first hit the turf together.
‘The Doctor’ and his intern got to work straight away, resulting in a brilliant performance for the Demons, and a run-away win against Camden. Its not often that Cuz is outdone, but that was the case on the day, as Joel was named best on ground, in front of his dad who was named second best. Joel featured prominently around the ground, his game reflective of the many hours he and his dad had spent kicking drop punts and torpedos back and forth on the wing of Ern Holmes. Mick too had a very good outing, using his silky hand and foot skills to negotiate some tricky situations, and perhaps, to compensate for an engine that has done a few more miles than his much younger team mate, and son, Joel.
Joel loves a rough and tumble affair, he gets his stocky frame low and will always throw himself at the footy. Saying this, he doesn’t mind putting it under his arm in traffic, and testing the pace of both his opponents and team mates chasing him out of congestion. Mick however, has learnt to adopt a more refined game style, using all of his football intelligence to run to areas of high traffic and gather plenty of the football. Mick’s skills are sublime, and plenty think that it is these skills that still allow the old dog plenty of time to hold on to the footy and hit up a target.
The game came to an end, and to the delight of onlookers, both Cuz and Joely had given a strong performance, being key contributors in a good Demons win. After the siren, father and son took the unique opportunity to embrace on field, surrounded by teammates, Mick and Joel left the ground sweaty and smiling, exchanging some good banter back and forth as true teammates do. Cuz commented, ‘Joely was great, he played fantastic, he looked after his old man and got me involved with a couple of touches early. It was great to play with him.’
A crowd of people and a case of cold beers met the boys in the rooms, with many club members and mates waiting for the victorious Demons to belt out an unforgettable club song. The Cousens boys have sung that song on some pretty special occasions, but I’m sure not many will argue that this would have to be one of the greatest, a meaningful moment for a great Demons family. At the end of the day, that’s what footy is about!