Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Hazelman makes good captain's knock

Barooga captain James Hazelman loves his Hawks and on Saturday he will bring up his 150th senior game for the club.

GREGOR MACTAGGART August 14, 2014 3:05am

Barooga captain James Hazelman plays his 150th senior game when the Hawks travel to Numurkah on Saturday.

Barooga captain James Hazelman reaches a milestone when he plays his 150th senior game on Saturday.

The utility, 26, is one of the Hawks’ most popular players and his teammates will attempt to mark the day in style with an away win against Numurkah.

‘‘It’s a big honour for me to reach this mark with Barooga,’’ Hazelman said.

‘‘From the age of 12 I’ve played all of my footy for the club, I love being around the place, it’s a great club with fantastic people.”

Despite the odd lure of playing elsewhere during his footy career, Hazelman has remained a loyal servant of the brown and gold.

‘‘When I was living in Melbourne I thought about playing down there, but I chose to come back and play here because Barooga is home for me and all my mates are here,’’ he said.

‘‘My ambition is to play in a premiership with Barooga, I played in two losing grand finals in 2007 and 2008, and would love nothing more than to win one.’’

This season may yet deliver that dream for Hazelman and the Hawks, who are one of the teams forming part of the tightest finals race in country football.

The top seven clubs in Murray Football League are separated by just three wins, with Hazelman saying the premiership race is wide open.

‘‘Usually there are one or two teams out in front, but this year is most definitely the closest competition I’ve seen,’’ he said.

‘‘Any one of seven teams could seriously win the flag, so you need to be on the ball every week.’’

Barooga (10-6, sixth) cannot really afford to drop one here against the ninth-placed Blues (4-12), especially with seventh-placed Deniliquin Rams fancied to account for Congupna (3-13, 10th) at home.

Finley (13-3, top) hosts Echuca United (11-5, third) with a later than usual opening bounce time of 3.10pm due to a big day of activities, headlined by the presence of former Hawthorn champion Peter Knights as guest speaker for the Winners Club and Sponsors Lunch.

Nathalia (10-6, fifth) plays Mulwala (11-5, fourth) in another match with top six ramifications.

Tongala tackles Moama in a battle of two sides out of the finals mix, while Rumbalara will enjoy a percentage-boosting win over cellar-dweller Cobram.

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