MAGPIES FAREWELL LEGENDS
EUROA MOURNS LOSS OF THREE LEGENDS AND GREAT SERVANTS OF FOOTBALL AND CRICKET CLUBS
The town of Euroa bid farewell to three of its favourite sons in recent months, following the deaths of football and cricket club legends Les Reed, Mick Peel and Laurie O’Brien.
Three men that bled black and white, they represented the small town with pride on and off the field — with their legacy one that will continue to live long into the future.
It is not often a town loses three of its most inf luential sporting figures in such a short period of time, so today The News looks back on their tremendous achievements and pays tribute to their inf luence on their community.
The sporting career of Les Reed makes for incredible reading.
First joining Euroa Football Netball Club in 1948, Reed quickly impressed with his football ability, climbing the ranks at the Magpies to make his senior debut at the tender age of 15.
Showing great talent as a crafty midfielder, he was discovered by VFL side Geelong and made the journey south in 1951 to join the then powerhouse side.
While at the Cats, the “nippy winger” from Euroa would feature in 25 matches, including being 19th man in the club’s 1951 grand final win against Essendon at the MCG.
He would follow this up with an appearance in the 1953 VFL grand final, which the Cats lost to Collingwood by 11 points.
Described as a “player that had pace, handled the ball well and could deliver it accurately”, Reed would suddenly call time on his VFL career in 1954 to head back to his beloved home town to take the reins as playing coach of the Magpies.
Upon returning to Euroa for the second of what would end up being five stints, he immediately began bringing success to Memorial Oval, leading the Magpies to a grand final in 1955 (where they ultimately lost to Mansfield), while also claiming the Waranga North-East Football League best-and-fairest award in the same year.
Declining an offer to return to the VFL and play with St Kilda in 1956, Reed made the move to Benalla in 1957 and played three seasons in the Ovens Murray Football League before again returning to Euroa in 1960.
Playing with the Magpies in what was a golden era in the 1960s, he was an integral part of three premierships in 1964, 1965 and 1967 — with his exploits earning him selection on the half-forward f lank in Euroa’s Team of the Century.
Reed would end up playing more than 300 games over a 20-year period, making appearances for Geelong, Geelong West, Benalla, Violet Town and Euroa.
On the cricket field Reed was equally as talented, being described by Euroa Cricket Club as “one of the finest players to have played at Memorial Oval”.
Hitting the first of 24 senior centuries at the age of 17, he played in eight premierships during his career playing in Euroa District Cricket Association (EDCA), including two with Euroa Colts (1948 and 1949), four with Wanderers (1956,1958,1959 and 1960) and two with Euroa Juniors (1969 and 1970).
Other highlights of his cricket career include holding the EDCA record for highest partnership with a 322-run stand with Wanderers teammate Rod Ferguson, winning the Maygar Bat in 1971-72, playing matches against England and South Africa as part of Country Week and leading the EDCA to the Provincial Premiership of Victoria in 1967.
A “champion wicketkeeperbatsman and occasional offspinner”, Reed was named captain of the EDCA’s Team of the Century.
A Magpie through and through, there aren’t many more accomplished players to have donned the Euroa black and white in the club’s 141-year history.
Peel’s relationship with the football club would begin when he was a small child, going down to Memorial Oval to watch his father Leo, affectionately known as “Dempsy”, and becoming the mascot for the senior team.
Playing right through the grades at Euroa, Peel would end up playing 292 senior games for the Magpies, a feat which had him become the club's games record-holder for many decades and earned him life membership.
Renowned for his “ferociousness at the ball and uncompromising will to win”, it is said he had an innate ability to inspire his teammates with his individual efforts and uncompromising attitude.
Featuring in what has been dubbed the “Golden Era” of Euroa football, he featured in three Waranga North-East Football League premierships in 1967, 1969 and 1970, and unfortunately missed out on the club’s first Goulburn Valley League premiership in 1971 due to suspension.
The tenacious on-baller would be honoured for his accomplishments on the field by being named as rover in the club’s Team of the Century.
His impact on the club would extend well beyond the playing arena, however, as he continued to do all he could to help the club upon retirement.
Constantly putting his hand up to umpire thirds football, run water for whatever team was in need of assistance, prepare the oval on match day, cleaning up on Sundays and organising fundraisers, Peel was the epitome of a club man.
Proudly wearing the number 33, the jumper has since been passed down through his family in a tradition that is still running to this day.
A tireless volunteer and contributor to sport at Euroa, the impact of Laurie O’Brien’s work with the football and cricket clubs will be felt for generations.
A loyal servant to cricket in the region, O’Brien was an opening bowler for Euroa Cricket Club in the early 1980s where he would quickly assume the role of president in 1981.
Playing in a B-grade premiership in 1992-93, he was a mainstay around the club for many years and performed a variety of different roles to help better not only the club, but the game of cricket in the Euroa area.
This can be seen through his involvement as a founding member of the newly-formed Euroa Cricket Club which was formed as an amalgamation of the town’s clubs following the disbandment of the EDCA.
O’Brien was at the forefront of the new club’s development and transition into Cricket Shepparton, where it now fields sides in the A,B,C and D-grade competitions.
Along with his work with the cricket club, O’Brien was also an inf luential figure at Euroa Football Club, serving as president and as longtime supporter.
An involvement with the club that spanned decades, he performed a variety of different roles as a volunteer, parent of players and committee member as he always put his hand up to help wherever needed.
His most notable contribution to the club came through his position as leader of the management group that looked after and prepared Memorial Oval to make it the excellent facility its many user groups enjoy to this day.