4 February 2023

'Osborne personified': Country football legend Garry O'Connell laid to rest

| Chris Roe
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Former Osborne Football president Garry O’Connell leaves behind a rich legacy. Photo: Osborne Football (Instagram).

Garry O’Connell was remembered at a requiem Mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Lockhart on Friday for his lifetime commitment to country football and a lasting legacy in regional sport.

The former Osborne president and president of the Hume Football League died last week at the age of 95.

He is survived by eight children, and 49 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Garry was Osborne personified,” said Riverina MP Michael McCormack.

“He led that football club back from almost obscurity to be the powerhouse of the Hume League.

“He was Osborne through and through and he bled black and gold.”

Garry played all of his football at the Osborne Football Club until he retired in 1958. He played centre half back in the 1950 premiership side, and the next year, in the grand final against Collingullie, he was mentioned as one of the best on ground.

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Garry was the club’s secretary/treasurer from 1945-50 when Osborne played in the Milbrulong and District League and he was captain/coach of the side in 1952-53.

After hanging up the boots, Garry maintained his interest and support for all sports, particularly junior football.

He was voted president of the Osborne Football Club in 1979 and served until 1992 and again between 1998 and 2010.

Throughout his 25 years in the role, he successfully recruited many coaches and players to the club that accumulated 17 premierships under his leadership and a total of 22 premierships throughout his involvement.

In 1983, Garry became president of the Hume Football League, a position he held until retiring in 1999.

In an excerpt from The History of Osborne Football Club – 110 Years of a Club without a Town, Garry summed up his decades of service: “I started playing for Osborne when I was 16 years old and have held a range of positions at the club, both on and off the field. It is very difficult to put into words the enjoyment and pride that I have had during this time.

“I have taken great pleasure in meeting many wonderful coaches, players, and their families … it has been a great pleasure watching my sons, grandsons and nephews play for the club.”

Among a long list of awards, Garry received the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2011.

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