Merv Holmes was as honest on the field as he was off it and never one to throw in the towel.
The Wangaratta Rovers great and Ovens and Murray Hall of Fame member died suddenly on Tuesday on his farm, aged 68, but will forever be remembered as a genuine star of his era.
Holmes, a dairy farmer at Carboor, was recruited from Milawa where he played in a premiership in 1969 and further grand finals in 1970 and 71.
He was quick to make an impact in the Ovens and Murray league when he joined the Hawks in 1972 and was a rock in the Hawks' defence at centre half-back in a dominant period for the brown and gold.
Holmes was Rovers' best first-year player when they downed Yarrawonga in the grand final in his debut Ovens and Murray season and he added another five flags to his name in his 302-game career as the Hawks dominated the 70s.
His effort to fight back from a knee injury in 1980 and play in a grand final team, is legendary at the Rovers.
Holmes was told he may never play again midway through that season when he left the ground with a dislocated knee against Benalla after 183 successive games at Ovens and Murray level.
However, eight weeks later he was back on the training track and got up for the decider, but was denied the fairytale return as North Albury prevailed by 20 points.
Holmes was a fierce competitor and was very rarely beaten, with some of his finest performances reserved for September.
His display in the Hawks' 1977 premiership against Wangaratta was rated as near perfection by many.
Holmes won the Hawks best and fairest in 1982, finished runner-up in 1976 and 1979 and represented the O and M 12 times.
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He coached the Hawks in 1985 and 1986 before retiring the following year and joined Robbie Walker, Bob Rose and Neville Hogan as the inaugural inductees of the Rovers' Hall of Fame in 2001.
Rovers' football operations manager Barry Sullivan played alongside Holmes and was coached by him.
"He was one that led by example and he was the sort of guy that would have a knee injury that would keep most people out for months and he'd tape it up and on he'd go," Sullivan said.
"He used to always do a fox drive once a year out at his place and that was legendary for all the players to go out there.
"He was a legend of a fellow and a legend of a footballer. He was an absolute character of the club and a genuinely fantastic fellow.
"It will be a sad loss for that community (at Carboor) for sure and everybody who was associated with the Rovers that knew him."
Sullivan said Holmes wasn't around the club often in recent years, but was a regular at past players' days and premiership reunions.
"He was very much a farmer and milked cows with early starts and late finishes," Sullivan added.
"He was very involved with the community at Carboor and the fire brigade."
Holmes is survived by wife, Rhonda, and children Andrew and Kerrie.
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