JOHN Brunner’s arrival at Yarrawonga coincided with the return of the Pigeons as an on-field force in the Ovens and Murray league.
The supremely talented rover won the first of three Morris Medals in 1988 before he stamped his mark even more on the competition the following season.
The Pigeons recovered from the upheaval of changing coaches on the eve of the ’89 season with Brunner at the forefront of the against-the-odds fightback, all the way to premiership glory under Neil Davis.
With an unrivalled pride in preparation and performance, Brunner tied for the Morris Medal in 1989 before playing a starring role in the Pigeons’ first flag in 30 years.
Brunner ran amok on grand final day against Wodonga, kicking three goals in a close to best-on-ground performance as Yarrawonga came from behind at three quarter time to land an unforgettable premiership.
Close to immovable over the ball and blessed with great evasive skills, Brunner possessed deadly accurate disposal.
He won his second club best and fairest award in 1991 when he was made captain of the Pigeons.
Brunner left the league after the Pigeons lost the ’91 grand final and dominated the Murray league for Barooga for three seasons.
He returned to the O and M to play for Benalla in 1995 and won a third club best and fairest before returning to Barooga to play in a fourth flag in six years.
But his O and M career was not over.
He returned to the Pigeons in 1999 and the next season, aged 39, he joined Jim Sandral as a three-time Morris Medal winner.
He also raised his tally of O and M representative matches to 14.