Some players seem destined to walk down a path in the footsteps of
greatness. It's like a pass in the alps. There are those who have gone
before but the echo is new. So it is with the Melbourne Football Club. Ron
Barassi was a product of Castlemaine. When he landed at Demonland he wore
with pride the number 31 that his father Ron Barassi senior had carried in
the Melbourne premiership side of 1940. Some 35 seasons later, the Dees
drafted with 1988 national draft pick number 27 a solid midfielder from
Castlemaine. His name was Rod Keogh. He was presented with the red and
blue 31. A coincidence.
Rodney got used to travelling in League football by spending 1989 in the rezzies. He was promoted for his first senior game early in 1990. He performed well through the Round 11 game against Carlton at the MCG. Set up opportunities for others. The K man also revealed a deadly left boot that notched double majors. He went OK over the next couple of rounds. But perhaps the match committee wanted more ground breaking work Some trailblazing. Not so much a fella that stuck to the highway by going straight at the Sherrin. Rodney returned to the twos and to top form. Scored a trifecta towards the end of the season. Played in the 1990 seconds grand final and won the reserves best and fairest. He also took out the Gardiner Medal by the length of Sydney Road. When presented with the trophy, Rod remarked that his sole aim was to establish himself in the seniors. Like Ronald Dale, Keogh had the hunger to succeed that hurt like a Chinese burn. RK had an excellent two hours in the 1991 Anzac Day collision with Collingwood at Waverley. The game was famous for Darren Cuthbertson jumping all over Magpies defenders and booting goals from all angles. But who fed the mercurial Demon forward? Number 31 kicked high and slow into the front half to give Cuthbertson the sit. Plus Rodder scored a long running goal early in the third quarter. Demons on easy street 17.11 to 10.17.
Keogh alternated between the firsts and seconds over the next two years. He created a smooth road for team-mates in the twos. His good football and loyalty were rewarded by another Gardiner in 1993. Melbourne had a settled side during the next season. So Rodney was traded to St Kilda as the Saints 1994 pre season selection 4. At Moorabbin, he walked down number 17 boulevard formerly frequented by Brian Wilson and Tim Allen. Keogh had the ability to split packs like they were insulwool. Round 4 at the Gabba he supplied Spider Everitt three of four goals. The rocket also hammered through a long curling major. Unfortunately the Saints lost 15.18 to 22.19.
Didn't the Dockers stand side when the Key man came through at full speed in Round 14 1996? Accurate service to Spider who dobbed 3. And number 17 a simple goal after a 50 metre penalty. A 23 point victory to the Moorabbinaires. The pinnacle of the Keogh career was playing in the 1997 grand final. He went for the hard ball as if he was getting in before the GST hit. Heaps of handpasses to Robert Harvey. A couple of smothers and third quarter intercept from a Kane Johnson kick showed the Saint was switched on. Plus he ran back into defence to give numbers at every contest. Hard to do when every sinew is screaming for mercy. In stanza 3, he crashed a pack to get the ball forward to Barry Hall who goaled.
Keogh played some decent football during 1998. His game against Geelong in the first round at Waverley was a possession fest. After that St Kilda opted for Mach 1 speed in the midfield. The pack buster was falling from favour. Keogh played most of the season in the seconds.
He was delisted at the end of 1998. A total of 81 senior games and over 100 in the twos over 9 years. He followed a path yet paved the way for team-mates.