DOB: 7 April 1951
From: Burramine/Wilby/Yarrawonga/Assumption College/Assumption College Old Boys
Night Series winner - 1971
Games: 131 (213 total)
Goals: 88 (123 total)
Statistical categories led:
Most goals in jumper 8
Christened Peter Patrick Pius Paul Keenan, but more affectionately known as "Crackers", Keenan was renowned as one of the game’s great characters, and somebody who always had a cigarette ready for him when he entered the sheds at half time.
He'd found his way to the club after writing a letter spruiking his services while still at school. Jim Cardwell went to see him play a junior game and was immediately convinced that Keenan had a future, even in the face of Keenan’s school telling him they had better players and that Keenan was slow. He was eligible to play for Melbourne due to living a mile out of the North Melbourne country recruiting zone. He trained with the Demons in 1969 and debuted the next year. Later he said that he was given a car as a signing bonus and when it stopped working on his first drive to the city he considered returning to the country before discovering that it had simply run out of petrol.
Keenan spent the first six years of his career as a ruckman with the Demons before crossing to North Melbourne. He had first threatened to leave the club in 1973 when Ian Ridley was sacked, but was convinced to return. During Ridley's reign as coach Keenan quit the club after having his tie cut in half by Phil Rhoden at a club dinner. He took off for Tungamah but at 7am called to say he was coming back as he'd had to stop driving because of fog.
At 23 years of age he announced his retirement in March of 1976, citing a loss of interest in football. There was some talk that it was to do with him being suspended by the club for failing to train that week, a charge with Keenan denied. He had clashed with official Noel McMahen at his last training session but claimed he'd already made the decision to give the game away and concentrate on his job as a strapper with horse trainer Bart Cummings. He was also trying to balance football with duties on his family farm after the passing of his father, and was denied a pay rise when he requested it from the club.
Despite his claims that he was sick of football and might decide to play in the VFA during the second half of the year, Keenan soon signed with North Melbourne. The Demons got $40,000 and Paul Goss in exchange. Keenan was in the middle for North's 1977 Premiership victory, missing the Grand Final the next year due to suspension. He might have been a North player had he stayed at Wilby long enough, but by returning to Assumption after a handful of games he'd fallen back into the Melbourne zone.
Despite overtures from the Demons to make him one of the highest paid players in the league at the end of 1978 he spurned his old club and moved to Essendon for two years between 1979 and 1980.
The return of Ron Barassi in 1981 helped Crackers change his mind and he returned to the Demons to finish his career despite overtures from Collingwood. First announcing he was thrilled be back with Barassi, Keenan managed to fall out with the coach in May of that year and his playing future was briefly in question. He had left the ground without permission and when Barassi followed him into the rooms and demanded an explanation the argument turned nasty and the ruckman packed his bags and went home.
The two patched up their difficulties and Keenan returned to the fold. He played until the end of the next season and then moved into the media. It was said that in his last season Keenan became agitated when the new MCG scoreboard stopped showing the racing scores. He won an award from the club training staff for being "Nicest player" in his final season.
He stayed at the club as a ruck coach, returning to play for the Reserves midway through 1983. From there he sporadically returning to the club over the years to lend his expertise in teaching young ruckmen. Keenan famously followed Jim Stynes around on the field in intra-club matches, helping the young Irish ruckman learn the game.
In 1985 he was part of a rebel group which attempted to force Billy Snedden out of the club presidency and replace him with Jim Cardwell, then served as a ruck coach for Collingwood from 1986 through 1990.
|Round 3, 1970||Striking||2 matches|
|Round 8, 1973||Striking||4 matches|
|Round 18, 1981||Striking||Not Guilty|
In his autobiography, Keenan says the walkout during Ridley’s reign was due to an argument with the coach.