A GRAND final appearance for Marrar is ‘icing on the cake’ for a year that has virtually rejuvenated experienced footballer Jeremy Rowe.
It has been a successful homecoming to the Riverina for Rowe to date ahead of Saturday’s Farrer League grand final at Robertson Oval.
A premiership player at Wagga Tigers as a teenager in 2001, Rowe became one of the youngest senior coaches in Marrar’s history when he took on the role as a 20-year-old back in 2005.
After two seasons in the job, Rowe pursued an opportunity in the South Australian National Football League (NEAFL) that led him on a rewarding football journey that most recently saw him spend three years as coach of Belconnen.
Rowe, 33, turned a full circle when he decided to return to Marrar this year and it a move that he has not regretted.
“I’ve personally absolutely loved it,” Rowe said.
“It’s sort of been the first year for quite a while that I’ve played in a side that I haven’t been coaching and as much as I love coaching, I’ve enjoyed the lesser pressure there.
“For me, the whole experience of playing footy back in Wagga and to be playing footy for Marrar, who I was only at for a couple of seasons but had a great time at when I was there before, has just been terrific and as much as it’s been a case of enjoying being around familiar territory, there’s been an element of freshness to it as well.
“All of the supporters and committee members are the familiar old faces who I’ve enjoyed catching up with but a lot of the players were guys I didn’t know too well so I’ve enjoyed the familiar faces as much as I’ve enjoyed making new friends and playing with different teammates as well.
“By and large it’s been a great experience for me at the back end of my career. The fact we’re playing in a grand final is icing on the cake on what’s already been an enjoyable season.”
Rowe said it was a combination of excitement and relief when the Bombers defeated East Wagga-Kooringal in last Saturday’s preliminary final.
It has earned them another shot at Temora, and Rowe is a big believer in what Marrar can potentially achieve in Saturday’s grand final.
“We’re a huge chance,” he said.
“Temora’s run in during the back half of the season and the fact that they have beaten us twice means they command absolute respect. But you don’t finish on top if you haven’t done a lot of things right during the year.
“A loss is a worthwhile thing to go through if you learn from it and we’ve just got to back that we’ll be better equipped to play them this week.”
Rowe has played a lot of football, but never has he played on a wing until this season.
The suggestion, made by Marrar coach Shane Lenon, surprised Rowe, as has the success of the move through the year.
“It’s definitely the first year of my footy career that I’ve played wing,” he said.
“To be able to do something new at 33 years old was a bit of a surprise, but it’s been really enjoyable.
“It was definitely a bit of a suck it and see process when Sparks initially came up with the idea for the role.
“I think we were both just going to go, let’s try it and out and see how it goes and it’s ended up being really enjoyable for me and again, if you’re not willing to take on new challenges, you’re probably at that point where you should throw it in.
“I have an element of appreciation that Sparks has identified somewhere where he thought I could have been of value and it’s ended up working out well for both of us.”