Belconnen Magpies star James Bennett enters elite group

Originally published by the Canberra Times – Caden Helmers

James Bennett can always trust his father to put him back in his place.

The Belconnen Magpies player-coach was dealt a humbling reminder as he prepares for his 200th first grade game against the Tuggeranong Hawks at Kippax Oval on Sunday.

“He reminded me this week, 200 games is great mate, but you’re still third in the family,” James laughed.

“He put me back in my box. There’s always a good bit of friendly competition and banter we have.”

Just eight players have reached the milestone for Belconnen – among them are brother Lexie and father David, who holds the club record with 268.

The brothers still remember their father’s last game. They still remember the moment they were picked up in the change rooms for a photo with their old man – it was James’ screensaver for some time.

“Me and Lex like to gang up on dad and tell him how much harder footy is these days than back when he played. He assures us the game was much harder and tougher back then, and everyone is just soft these days,” James said.

“Neither of us are willing to give up on that, so the conversation never goes anywhere. That’s probably where Lex and I got our competitiveness from – both mum and dad, but dad on the footy field gave everything he had.”

Watching his father was James’ earliest brush with the Belconnen players he would grow to consider his heroes.

It was a level he would soon find himself playing in as “a skinny young kid on the wing” in 2004 – a year that ended with a Belconnen premiership.

For most of the time since he has played alongside his brother, Chris York and Ryan Turnbull – all members of Belconnen’s 200-game club.

Together they have formed the foundations for Belconnen’s success – and they are desperate for one more title.