IT’S amazing how things can turn out.
Just under 15 years ago, I met a bloke called Jeremy O’Brien in Melbourne through my new mate at Carlton by the name of Ryan Houlihan.
“Jez” and “Hoops” knew each other from school and footy back home and, in those days, Jez would often come out with us boys for a beer on the weekend.
More than 10 years later, and we’ve ended up playing in two premierships together at Yarrawonga.
Back then, I didn’t know what Yarrawonga was, let alone think I’d play there.
I’m spewing I won’t be able to run out alongside Jez when he plays his 200th game tomorrow.
To do that at senior level, whatever the standard, is a super effort.
Jez is one of the best kicks of the footy I’ve played with, and that includes the AFL.
He’s a ripping kick.
I remember speaking to him when I was first thinking about playing in the O and M a couple of years ago.
He was moving to Queensland, which was disappointing, but I thought he’d have a good idea about what I should do.
To make it even stranger, the clubs I could pick from were Wang Rovers and Yarra — the two Jez has played at.
He told me how good it was at Yarra and how great all the boys were at the club.
He wasn’t wrong.
A couple of months later, Jez and his wife, Chelsea, decided to return home, which was awesome news because it meant we’d finally be able to play together.
But then I remembered how Jez used to talk about how many losing grand finals he’d played in and I joked not to come back because he’d jinx us.
Thankfully he didn’t.
I’ve got to know him even better and he’s become a great mate, which is something you would have never thought when we hung out all those years ago.
The coincidences don’t end there — Jez’s cousin, Zac, is playing at Brisbane now and I’m wearing his old jumper at the Pigeons.
It’s a small world sometimes.
I don’t need to tell anyone on the Border how good a player Jez has been in his 199 games so far. He’s been a gun for years and done pretty much everything you can do in our league.
His dad, Bill, helps with the rubs at Yarra and I’m sure Jez will get one before he runs out against Wodonga tomorrow.
It’s something everyone says whenever a milestone game comes up, but Jez deserves to play in a win this week in return for everything he’s done.
I’m sure the boys won’t let him down.