The Justin 'Joc O'Connor Perpetual Trophy'

26 May 2016

A tribute to a loved former teammate at both St Bernards and St Kevins Football Clubs

This trophy honours the memory of Justin ‘Joc’ O’Connor, who died tragically at just 28yrs of age on 17 May, 1997. ‘Joc’ grew up in Essendon but attended St Kevin’s with mates John Dynan and Bede Noonan.  After finishing HSC, ‘Joc’ and Bede joined the St Bernard’s Under 19s.

‘Joc’ and Bede turned up in their school footy jumpers for the first practice match.  When questioned by ‘Muscles’ Overman, ‘Joc’ said it was the Australian Schoolboys representative jumper.  The rumour quickly spread and the two were placed as on ballers starting in the centre.

For the first half of the season, ‘Joc’ played brilliantly, waxing neatly with Simon Walsh in sharking the ball out of the guts.  If the opposition tried to ruffle him, big Shaun Grech stepped in as rugged enforcer.  The team was undefeated well into the season.  However, mid-way through, ‘Joc’, Bede, Anthony Capes, Pat Saundry, Chris Doolan and a few others took a week off to ski at Falls Creek.  The break was not conducive to good football as very few wins were recorded after the trip.

‘Joc’ was elevated to the seniors in 1989.  He loved playing under Frank Melican as he was a great supporter of highly skilled footballers regardless of how hard they worked! ‘Joc’ played mainly on the wing in a team full of St Bernard’s legends.  Like most wingmen, the runner spent a fair bit of time keeping him out of the forward line.  However, in one critical game, Frank wished that ‘Joc’ had stayed out of the backline.  After receiving the ball from the kick out, ‘Joc’ dummy handballed and took off.  He baulked around a player, took a bounce and then changed direction across goal.  His kick was intended for Rob Purcell but it was intercepted and an opposition goal put us three points down with minutes to go.  Fortunately, Marcus Marshall scratched out a final goal to seal the game and save ‘Joc’s’ football career.

In 1991, ‘Joc’ could not commit to senior footy and chose to play Club 18 football. ‘Joc’ had the ball on a string most games as he fed off Peter O’Dea and Peter Wood.  ‘Joc’ and Dave McAllister owned the half back line and regularly delivered the ball lace-up to a Monaghan deep in the forward line.  The premiership was due reward and well celebrated.

‘Joc’ returned to St Kevin’s in 1993, joining in the efforts to lift the club from D Grade.  His infectious, fun personality was just as valued there.  In 1996, he was assistant coach of the SKOB Under 19s to his great mate, Owen Hourigan.  Together, they guided the team to the 1993 flag.  In a typically selfless act, ‘Joc’ gave his medal to a player who had not made it into the final side.

 

The perpetual trophy is in memory of a good bloke who played for both SKOBs and St Bernard’s.  He was a talented footballer and a person who made people’s eyes light up both on and off the field.

The Committee