Paul Kirby is Tatura through and through and tomorrow the Bulldogs champion will run out for his 200th game for the club.OLIVER CAFFREY August 22, 2014 3:05am
Tatura veteran Paul Kirby was hard at work yesterday ahead of his 200th club game for the Bulldogs against Echuca tomorrow.
The love of football is still there for Paul Kirby.
The Tatura great will play his 200th game for the club tomorrow when the Bulldogs host Echuca.
Kirby has done it all during his glorious senior Goulburn Valley Football League career that began at Tongala in 1996.
He spent two highly successful years at Ovens and Murray club Wangaratta, but Tatura has always been home.
‘‘It means a lot, it’s just a good club with great people and supporters — I’ve felt involved there since day one,’’ Kirby said.
‘‘Everyone has stuck fat through the good times and the bad times, but I’m happy to reach 200 at Tatura and it’s something I’ll look back on when I can hardly walk.’’
There have been plenty of good times for Kirby.
He has made seven interleague appearances for the Goulburn Valley and played for Victoria Country last year.
The ruck-forward played in the 2003 and 2012 premierships alongside great mate and fellow club stalwart Linc Wellington.
The Bulldogs have had a number of changes since winning the 2012 grand final against Seymour.
Brendan van der Donk took on the senior coaching job this year — Tatura’s third mentor in as many seasons.
But he is not a new face to the Bulldogs, particularly Kirby.
Van der Donk coached Kirby at under-17 level for Kyabram District Football League side Rushworth more than 20 years ago.
‘‘I’ve known Paul a long time after coaching him as a thirds player and when I went back to Tat we got him over from Tongala,’’ van der Donk said.
‘‘He’s the ultimate professional in how he looks after his body — he does his own recovery on a Sunday and shows professionalism in everything that he does.
‘‘He’s a quality bloke and I’ve got a lot of respect for him in what he’s done on and off the field.’’
After experiencing niggling soft-tissues injuries this season, Kirby is still undecided on what he will be doing next year.
The Bulldogs are tracking nicely towards September and Kirby is eager to take this group as far as possible.
‘‘I don’t take anything for granted at my age, I just like getting out there on a Saturday and having a kick,’’ Kirby said.
‘‘I’m sort of 50-50 at the minute about playing on, I’ll just wait and see how the body is at the end of the season.
‘‘If you had’ve asked me halfway through the year, I probably would’ve said I’m closer to the end, but it’s sort of a wait and see thing now.
‘‘The team is going all right, we’ve probably lost a few games we should’ve won, but we’re working on a few things and hopefully we’ll get everyone back on the park and win a few finals.’’
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Tears flowed freely from players and supporters on Sunday when Benalla lost the Goulburn Valley Football League grand final by three points.
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