Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla star plays 350th game for Saints

Benalla legend Kellie Keen played her 350th game for her beloved Saints when her side put up a gutsy fight in its loss against Shepparton in Goulburn Valley Netball League on Saturday.

MATTHEW GALEA May 19, 2014 3:20am

Kellie Keen celebrated 350 games for Benalla against Shepparton on Saturday.

No matter how much longer she plays, seven premierships at Benalla will be the highlight of a glittering career for Kellie Keen.

The Saints legend played her 350th game for Benalla on Saturday against Shepparton and demonstrated all the experience and composure she has developed during the years.

It wasn’t enough to keep the Saints from losing on the day, but it was more than enough to show the 36-year-old still has it.

Speaking before the game, ex-coach Robyn Smith addressed both sets of players and fans and described an ‘‘amazing ambassador’’ for the club and the sport and a player who had been, ‘‘an absolute pleasure to coach’’.

Keen tried not to get too caught up in the moment, but admitted it was a special one to make.

‘‘I just take it one game at a time, but it’s a special milestone. It shows I’ve been around a while,’’ Keen said.

‘‘It’s really heartening to hear (Robyn) say those things before the game.

‘‘I’ve won seven premierships at Benalla, as well as two with Wangaratta Rovers when I was up there for two years.’’

The move from the Ovens and Murray league to Goulburn Valley Netball League was a prosperous one for Benalla in the early days — with all seven of those premierships coming in the club’s first nine years in the competition.

‘‘You play for the premierships and I’m lucky to have played in a few.’’

The Benalla resident said while she was delighted to challenge herself in moving to Wangaratta for two seasons, her heart was always with the Saints.

‘‘It’s the best netball you can play in the area and I think it’s great to see so many young girls come through the club wanting to play the best netball they can,’’ Keen said.

‘‘It’s a bit more professional now. When we first came into the GVNL Robyn came in as coach and had us training two times a week when we only used to train once and now we’re doing a few different things for fitness.

‘‘All the best players come to this league now, so it’s a great competition.’’

Keen has had to change her game as Benalla gets taller and taller at the ring and now finds herself in wing attack as much as she does in the circle, but is hopeful of another finals campaign this season.

‘‘We’ve lost two games — one by one goal and today by 10 — but who would have thought that against the teams we’ve played we’d manage such good results given they mostly played finals last year,’’ Keen said.

‘‘We’ll just keep building and hopefully we make finals.’’

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