Alex McKinnon is a great kid who is more like my son: Wayne Bennett

Discussion in 'Newcastle Knights Discussion' started by rhugh89, Mar 29, 2014.

  1. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

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    Alex McKinnon is a great kid who is more like my son: Wayne Bennett


    • WAYNE BENNETT - NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS COACH
    • THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
    • MARCH 29, 2014 9:00PM

    [​IMG]
    Newcastle Knights training - coach Wayne Bennett, centre, with the team. Source: News Corp Australia


    I WANT to tell you about Alex McKinnon, one of the best kids you’ve never met.

    Because the hardest thing right now is busting to do something for Alex and his family, and the realisation you can’t … this lonely feeling of helplessness.

    So I thought the best I could do was share my insights to a wonderful young man, to our relationship and trust.

    [TABLE="width: 100%, align: center"]

    [​IMG]First time I saw him was at an under-20s Dragons training session. The flaming red hair made him stand out, that and his athleticism. - Wayne Bennett on Alex McKinnon.[​IMG]

    [/TABLE]

    It all happened so quickly. And it was life-changing.

    Today, Alex lies in a Melbourne hospital fighting the biggest battle of his 22 years.

    First time I saw him was at an under-20s Dragons training session.

    The flaming red hair made him stand out, that and his athleticism.

    Steve Price coached the ’20s back then and he said this kid’s going to be a star.

    After watching him train for a while I turned and said: He has a few bad habits, Steve.

    At the Dragons, he played ’20s when he was only 17, going on to represent NSW under-18s.

    In 2010, Dan Hunt ruptured an achilles warming up and we didn’t have an 18th man so I looked over at the ’20s who’d just finished their match, grabbed him and put him on the bench.

    Alex had been their best player but was still only 18.I never used him that day – didn’t give him one minute game time.

    [TABLE="width: 100%, align: center"]

    [​IMG]I had a lot of respect for him, the way he carried himself. His maturity. Quiet manner. - Wayne Bennett on Alex McKinnon.[​IMG]

    [/TABLE]

    Knew he’d come looking for an explanation. I simply thanked him, saying you haven’t earned the right to play with these players.

    When he had earned the right I knew he’d appreciate it a lot more than if I’d given him five minutes out there first up.

    The following year he played for the Dragons’ top side because he had earned the right by paying the price.


    [​IMG]
    Alex McKinnon evades a tackle during the Dragons v Titans. Source: News Limited


    I was leaving the Dragons for Newcastle and Alex came from Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley.

    He’d been away at boarding school for four years, then at the Dragons and while he loved the joint he wanted to go home.

    And I wanted to take him.

    Even then I had a lot of respect for him, the way he carried himself.

    His maturity.

    His Quiet manner.

    How he could hold a conversation in any company, without ever seeking to be the centre of attention.

    So he came to Newcastle with me at age 20 and was always happiest when heading home to Aberdeen.

    Not a whole lot happens in Aberdeen.


    [TABLE="width: 100%, align: center"]

    [​IMG]One of the things endearing me to Alex is his ability to care for other people - Wayne Bennett on Alex McKinnon.[​IMG]

    [/TABLE]


    For more than a century the local abattoirs was its largest single employer but when an American company bought then closed the meatworks in 1999 hundreds of people were left without work.

    Pretty much all the locals had left to cheer about were the Aberdeen Tigers, who play at McKinnon Oval named after Alex’s grandfather Mal and still mowed and marked out each week of winter by Mal’s son, Scott – Alex’s dad.

    They’re true rugby league people.

    And one of the things endearing me to Alex is his ability to care for other people.

    If he is your friend, you do not want. Recently I went to a player I knew to be struggling financially, prepared to give him a loan.

    “You OK?” I said. Yeah, he said, Alex looked after me.

    If someone hasn’t got a car or loses his licence, the beeping horn out the front belongs to Alex McKinnon.

    Just last year I went back to Aberdeen with him and we spoke to his old school, St Joseph’s.

    He talked about how hard it was for him to leave home, how much he missed his parents and friends, at the same time encouraging the students to have the courage to follow their dreams … not to be afraid of the unknown.

    Today, it is his dreams shattered, he who is staring at the unknown.

    I have an old friend up here I played football with a long time ago.

    He was brought up in an orphanage and his story is tragic.

    As part of Alex’s education I thought he should meet him because we sometimes forget how lucky we are.


    [​IMG]
    Alex McKinnon during Newcastle training. Source: News Limited


    So over we went.

    My old mate loves his football and he loved Alex even more.

    I got him to tell a bit of his past and the kid was blown away.

    A few months later, with Christmas nearing, Alex asked when I was going back to see my friend?

    “I want to come with you.”

    Come he did, with an armful of gifts and food items to share the joy of Christmas with someone he barely knew.


    [TABLE="width: 100%, align: center"]

    [​IMG]I’m not a great shopper so when I want to go shopping I ring Alex. - Wayne Bennett.,[​IMG]

    [/TABLE]


    Funny, I’d never taken another player around there.

    I’m not a great shopper so when I want to go shopping I ring Alex.I say, Alex, I need this … I need that … where do we go?

    Pick him up, and he says, “Coach”, he always calls me coach — we’re father and son – “Coach,” he says, “we’re going here, and we’re going there.”

    I end up buying clothes a bit young for me, hip and happening, he says, and he’s introduced me to Boost Juice and Health Balls, which he buys by the jarful.

    We have some lovely times shopping, me and Alex.

    All my players are important to me but we just have a special chemistry. Me in my 60s and he’s 22.

    That’s the price you pay in relationships – the greater the relationship, the greater the pain.

    Monday night in Melbourne was terrible, horrific, highlighted by the fact I’m the coach, the steadying influence.

    The one they look to.

    We play a tough game and Alex is a tough young man. Nobody’s fool. He doesn’t walk around trying to show he’s tough, but he is.

    And I’ve always loved his humility.Never seen him drunk. Not once.

    Never seen him do anything stupid. No one’s ever talked about Alex like that.

    He doesn’t wear his cap back-to-front, prefers country music and watches every game of footy every weekend.

    He’d rather sit down and talk to old blokes than prance around with rock stars.

    My greatest torment is I wasn’t initially sure how bad the injury was, wasn’t looking at the pictures on the big screen.


    [​IMG]
    Darius Boyd celebrates his try with Alex McKinnon. Source: News Limited


    Many times in my coaching life I’ve seen players taken off on stretchers, taken through all the procedures, and every one of them has walked away at day’s end.

    On the way to the dressing rooms at halftime I walked into the medical area and didn’t get any positive looks or vibe, just whispers of can you move this? Can you do that?

    I went to the other players and tried to settle them down.

    Then straight back to the medical room where I could tell things were very serious.

    I left Alex with an assurance everybody was doing their best for him.

    And while I’ve seen him since we haven’t been able to speak.

    All we have now is hope. And belief.

    Belief the game of rugby league, Newcastle and the Hunter will stay true to Alex McKinnon.

    He’s going to need a lot of help and for people to be there with him for the rest of his life.

    As he would there be for you.


    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sp...e-my-son-bennett/story-fni3fbgz-1226868515571
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
  2. Fungus

    Fungus Steve Simpson

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    Great read. Quite sad though. :(
     
  3. bigdan

    bigdan Red, Blue & Gold 24/7/365

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    I'm floored by that article. It's a shame a good guy like Alex has been dealt a ****ty hand like that in life. And there are plenty more like him up here, let me assure you.

    If he can't come back to league, I hope he's well looked after.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
     
  4. adam.forbes1

    adam.forbes1 Cameron Ciraldo

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    Made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up reading that. Couldnt have happened to a better bloke.
     
  5. Junior11

    Junior11 Moderator Moderator

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    Yeah there was a lump in my throat reading this.

    This is so heartbreaking.

    Thank you Wayne for sharing your stories and insight.

    All we can do is pray and hope for the best for Alex and support him all the way through his recovery.

    So, so sad.
     
  6. anthemlost

    anthemlost Steve Linnane

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    I hope to god there is some good news for alex soon
     
  7. Beaumont

    Beaumont Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus

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    Yeah well I don't mind admitting it I teared up and not for the first time since Monday night.
     
  8. listo

    listo Brock Mueller

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    Great article, if that doesn't get the emotions going, there's something wrong with you
     
  9. Gidleys-my-knight08

    Gidleys-my-knight08 The future Mrs Joey Johns

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    Great article... It's not often you get much emotion out of Bennett. The tears started rolling by the end of it. Like Beaumont - not for the first time since Monday.
     
  10. turtonrd

    turtonrd Dave Woods

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    Heart breaking and heart warming all in one. Had a chuckle at the bit about how he was never drunk - I worked in a local establishment last year that the boys frequented, Alex would always joke about how he had to go and collect everyone else's drinks even though none of them were his - he rarely drank but he just went to hang out with his mates.
     
  11. Jekk

    Jekk Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

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    Omg, definitely not the last time I'll get a few tears today. Heartbreaking.
     
  12. Matty23

    Matty23 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus

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    Tears in my eyes - wow.
     
  13. Nickwpearce

    Nickwpearce Banned

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    God i've been crying for alex, this is so heart breaking
     
  14. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

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    Wayne Bennett’s emotional tribute to Alex McKinnon triggers a flood of support from across sport


    • AMANDA LULHAM
    • THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
    • MARCH 30, 2014 2:40PM

    [​IMG]
    Bennett’s tribute has sparked an outpouring of support. Source: News Corp Australia



    IT is an emotional tribute by a coach for a player and mate which has moved not just rugby league but the world of sport, fans and parents.

    Wayne Bennett’s extraordinary column on Alex McKinnon has exposed the impact this young man has had on one of the hardmen of NRL.

    It is a poignant and touching tribute to a very special 22-year-old, a man Bennett’s insight reveals as a champion both on and off the field who is now in a hospital in Melbourne fighting the biggest battle of his life.
    Bennett, a man who traditionally lets the results of his team do the talking, writes from the heart about his special relationship with McKinnon, who he considers a son.

    The honesty and emotion of Bennett’s world have struck a chord with mothers, fellow players, fans, athletes and coaches from other sports, all wishing McKinnon and his family well.

    “I have a 21 year old son who has played football his whole life. He has sustain broken collarbones, fingers, hand, wrist but nothing as horrific as this.

    "As a mother I love to watch him play. I can’t imagine what Alex’s family are going through. My thoughts and belief of good in the world are with Alex and his family,”
    wrote Paula in reaction to the moving column.

    It has bought people together and stopped others in their tracks as they take in what has happened to the young Newcastle Knight.

    “In tears after reading Wayne Bennett’s column about his affection for Alex McKinnon via @dailytelegraph #genuinekid #heartbreaking,” wrote Terri Leenders on Twitter.

    “Its always the unwritten rules of humility and compassion that go most unnoticed and least recognized.

    "Well done Wayne for breaking the silence and letting us know what really is important. Lets hope you are both sharing a juice again sometime soon.

    "Best wishes to everyone involved,” wrote Michael in response to the Sunday Telegraph column by Bennett.


    Bennett said McKinnon’s ability to care for others stood out to him.

    “Nothing demonstrates the Novocastrian spirit more than lifting up a mate when he’s down. Let’s all #RiseForAlex @NRLKnights @mckinnon92.” tweeted Bondi vet Dr Chris Brown on Sunday.

    Bennett said he considers McKinnon a son.

    “All my players are important to me but we just have a special chemistry. Me in my 60s and he’s 22.,” he wrote.

    Bennett’s sentiments touched so many, including Daily Telegraph sports editor-at-large Phil Rothfield and NRL boss Dave Smith.

    “Don’t think you’ll ever read a more beautiful piece than Wayne Bennett’s tribute to Alex McKinnon @telegraph_sport #RiseforAlex,” tweeted NRL expert and top columnist Rothfield

    “Wayne Bennett showed today that Rugby League clubs are a family. Special story about bond between coach & player. #RiseforAlex @NRLKnights,” tweeted Smith

    “Beautiful words, Wayne. For a beautiful person,” wrote Greg..

    “Best Wishes for the future Alex from the rugby league fans in Toowoomba.

    Wonderful article Wayne....No wonder your past and present players respect you so much,” wrote Maureen.


    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sp...rom-across-sport/story-fni3gf5j-1226869008295
     
  15. mozza

    mozza Game on broheim

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    Nice article. Also lols at Rothfield being referred to as 'NRL expert'. I spose 'one eyed p*sshead who has nfi what he's talking about' doesn't have the same ring to it.
     
  16. Beeto

    Beeto Peter Malcolm

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    Such a wonderful insight into what a good guy McKinnon is.
     

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