FOOTBALL and farming are two things that have plenty in common.
There are good years and bad years, and successes and droughts - and nothing is gained without plenty of hard work and persistence.
Damian Kronk has done plenty of both and pretty much seen it all, on the field and on the land.
The popular Newbridge big man last Saturday notched up his 450th club game in the Maroons' reserves clash against Mitiamo at Riverside Oval.
It was a milestone he hoped to achieve last season, before a knee injury intervened - and one that at some point looked unlikely to eventuate.
But as he has done throughout his 28-year career with Newbridge, Kronk could not resist pulling on the number 34 maroon and white jumper to help out the club he was made a life member of in 2011 when it desperately needed it.
"Last year was going to be the last year, but the reserves are struggling for numbers this year, so I thought I'd give it a go and get back up and into it," he said.
"It's certainly a lot harder now than it used to be, obviously.
"I just love it and have for all the years I've been doing it.
"It's also a bit of a release from the farming ... you get to the football on Saturdays and catch up with everyone, you forget the woes of the farming world. But it's always been a passion and it's kept me fit.
"I've met a lot of people over the journey - there's been a lot of people come and go from Newbridge."
Only George Hamilton, whose name is emblazoned on the Maroon's 17-and-under best and fairest award each season, is believed to have possibly played more games at Newbridge than the 43-year-old grain and sheep farmer.
A candid Kronk, who has served numerous years on the club's committee, said he was 'no chance' of getting to 500 games.
"People keep saying 'you'll get 500', but no, this will be the last year," he said.
"It takes me until the next Saturday to get over the Saturday before, so this is definitely it."
Amazingly, the tough as nails Maroon has battled back from an ACL injury to take the field this season, without the benefit of a surgery.
Kronk, who farms at Shelbourne, paid credit to his wife Ebony and 13-month old daughter Ireland in supporting him in continuing to play.
People keep saying 'you'll get 500', but no, this will be the last year.Damian Kronk
The couple has another child on the way, due in October.
A key defender for the bulk of his junior and senior career, with 'the odd cameo up forward' Kronk rates his three premiership wins as the 'obvious' highlights, albeit in his words 'they have been few and far between', with the first in 1996 and the third 18 years later in 2014.
He added it was hard to go past 'country football's most popular waterboy' Terry O'Shea as the standout character he had encountered in his decades at Newbridge.
"There's not much he doesn't know about what's going on - we call him the Mayor of Newbridge and he's certainly that," he said.
While season 2019 shapes as his swan song as a player, Kronk indicated he was far from done being a presence around the football netball club.
What role he might play in the future at the Maroons is undecided, but that did not stop the affable and durable footballer from speculating.
"Terry would love an apprentice, so that might be me," he laughed."
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