When Ben Hitchcock and Troy Snelson run out for Nathalia on Saturday in Murray Football League they will bring up their 100th senior game for the Purples.GEORGINA CAHILL July 24, 2014 3:05am
Ben Hitchcock and Troy Snelson are two decorated footballers.
Not only will the big-name Nathalia players line up against Numurkah in their 100th senior match for the club in Murray Football League on Saturday, they are also heavily decorated in tattoos.
While they may look tough off the field, and even tougher on, coach Jason Limbrick said they were at the heart and soul of the football club.
‘‘They’re both really good people and great clubmen,’’ Limbrick said.
‘‘There’s probably no-one who trains harder than Ben does.
‘‘Snels is a super-talented player and widely respected across country footy.’’
Hitchcock, 28, grew up at Nathalia and has been the Purples’ captain since 2012.
He played junior football at Nathalia and got his first senior call-up when he was playing in the thirds.
Throughout Hitchcock’s time with the Purples, there have been two distinct highlights.
‘‘It’s something I’m very proud of, to be captain,’’ Hitchcock said.
‘‘Winning a premiership in 2005 was a highlight as well. That’s the ultimate goal in football.’’
In 2006, Hitchcock moved to Queensland then Western Australia, but family drew him back to Nathalia in 2011.
Hitchcock painfully missed Nathalia’s 2012 premiership, suffering from osteitis pubis.
Hitchcock said his outlook on football had changed greatly since his junior days.
‘‘Football changes as you get older. When I was a junior and coming up into senior football, I thought it was a lot easier back then and success just happened,’’ he said.
‘‘Now towards the end of my career I know that’s not the case, it’s a lot of hard work and success doesn’t just happen.’’
For Snelson, 36, it all began playing under-18s for Girgarre.
He has lined up for Tongala — where he notched 100 games — as well as Rochester, Rushworth, back to Girgarre, Nathalia, Shepparton Swans and returned Nathalia.
Premierships have been plentiful for Snelson.
‘‘I’ve been pretty lucky, I won a flag playing juniors at Girgarre,’’ Snelson said.
He also won a Kyabram District Football League flag at Rushworth in 2004 and has had an incredibly successful tenure at Nathalia.
He collected premierships in 2006 to 2008, and in 2012.
In 2008, Snelson was awarded best-on-ground in the grand final and in 2010 he took out the McNamara Medal when playing for Girgarre in KDFL.
He has played plenty of interleague football and was awarded Murray Football League’s best interleague player in 2011.
Nathalia will face long-time rival Numurkah on Saturday and, for Snelson, getting the win meant everything.
‘‘You don’t want to lose on a milestone game,’’ Snelson said.
‘‘You don’t like to lose any game, but you don’t like to lose to (Numurkah).’’
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