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200 game milestone for O'Brien

Yarrawonga Football Netball Club senior footballer Jeremy O’Brien celebrated his 200th senior Ovens and Murray Football Netball League game against the Wodonga Bulldogs on Saturday.

STEPHEN HICKS July 29, 2014 2:50pm

The game was played at home on J C Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga in front of many admiring supporters keen to show their appreciation.

O’Brien is a key member of the Pigeons senior team and is admired by supporters for his deadly left foot kick, work rate and down to earth attitude. To the supporters he is affectionately known as“Jezza”.

While O’Brien was playing his 124th game with the Pigeons, it was through his 76 games with the Wangaratta Rovers that brought about the 200 game milestone.

Jeremy O’Brien was raised in Wangaratta, and started his football career in the Wangaratta Junior Football League representing Imperials through the junior divisions before heading to Wangaratta Rovers to play Under 18s football.

While at Rovers, Jeremy played in an Under 18 Premiership before graduating to the senior ranks debuting in 2000.  Playing 76 games with Wangaratta Rovers, before work opportunities took him to the Goulburn Valley Football League and three seasons with Shepparton Bears for 49 games.

In between the 2003 and 2004 season at Rovers he played with St Mary’s in Darwin playing in a Premiership alongside Rovers team mates including Ross Hill.

O’Brien was looking at a return to Ovens and Murray football and the choice was between Rovers and Yarrawonga.

“At the time, my girlfriend (now wife) Chelsea was from Yarrawonga; and I had been to school at Galen College in Wangaratta with a few of the Yarrawonga boys,” O’Brien said.

“My future brother in law Damien O’Connor also said that if I didn’t play for Yarrawonga, I could no longer see his sister. It was a tough decision to make at the time but looking back now I know it was the right one.”

O’Brien debuted for the Yarrawonga Pigeons at Lonsdale Reserve in Mulwala against the Wangaratta Magpies and thus began a career that has netted 124 games thus far. Over his career he has played with and against some of the most talented players from all over Australia.

The toughest opponents in the Ovens and Murray, O’Brien rates are Jason Kerr from North Albury and Danny Cohen from Wodonga.

While the extensive number of teammates included Brendan Fevola – “when he is up and firing no one can stop him”, Craig Ednie – “can play anywhere and very hard to keep out of the game”, Tim Hargreaves – “although I didn’t play with him at the peak of his career, I remember playing against him and he just thrived on the physical contest and was a great goal kicker” says O’Brien.

As a player at Wangaratta Rover, “Robbie Walker is hands down the best footballer I have played with. His versatility and ability to run his opponents into the ground; his record speaks for itself. Joey Wilson was a great ball winner and brilliant stoppage player along with Andy Hill,” O’Brien said.

Career highlights for Jeremy O’Brien are team orientated, including back to back premierships in the O&M with Yarrawonga in 2012 and 2013 and the premiership with St Mary’s in the NTFL. O’Brien represented both the GVFL and O&M at Interleague level and rates the 2005 VCFL Championship win against Geelong in 2005 as a special highlight.

And of course the Under 18 Premiership with Wangaratta Rovers.

O’Brien represent the GVFL in 2005 and 2007; missing 2006 with broken ribs, while he represented the Ovens and Murray in 2009 and 2011.

In 2011, O’Brien represented the O&M against Mornington Peninsula down at Frankston alongside Yarrawonga’s Morris Medalist Michael Stevens and cousin Zac O’Brien who is a senior player at the Brisbane Lions.

Another highlight was when the Pigeons played Myrtleford at the J C Lowe Oval in 2011, when Jeremy ran out alongside cousins, Matthew, Simon and Zac in the senior team.

The biggest influence on his 200 game career, is his father Bill O’Brien who Jeremy says has supported him wherever he played football and become a valuable member of the YFNC training staff on game day as well.

Barry Clarke, the Under 18 coach at Rovers was also a big influence instilling confidence and teaching the basics of football well. John O’Donoghue gave Jeremy his chance at senior level and persisted in giving the youngster a go.

Among the awards O’Brien has to his name, he lists the team based awards in premierships as the best awards. In 2007, he won a Best and Fairest at Shepparton Bears, and in 2003 was Runner Up to the O&M and Rovers legend Robbie Walker; which is the equivalent to winning a B&F at Rovers. Another important award was the Yarrawonga Chronicle Award in 2010.

Congratulations to Jeremy O’Brien on his 200th Senior Ovens and Murray game; and from all the Pigeons supporters thanks for the friendship and memories you have created as a player and person.

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