FOR Steve Turner, Maiden Gully YCW has been much more than a just a club that allows him to fulfill his passion for playing football every week.
The impact the Eagles have had on Turner through his 20 years at the club extends well beyond the confines of the football field.
"I suppose there's a lot of footy players who consider changing footy clubs like I did when I was younger, and during my time at YC you think is it time I should go somewhere else for a change?," Turner said this week.
"But a lot of really good things in my life have come from just staying at YC.
"I've obviously got to know a lot of people, but there are people involved at the club now and in the past who have helped me so much in my personal and business life, which has been great.
"I wouldn't have got that help had I shifted around clubs.
"But probably the best thing to come out of my time at the club and because I did stuck around is I got the chance to know Leisa, who I married in January.
Probably the best thing to come out of my time at the club and because I did stuck around is I got the chance to know Leisa, who I married in January- Steve Turner
"That wouldn't have happened unless I stayed at the club, so that's probably the best thing that has come out of hanging around the club for so long.
"That's just one example of a lot of good things that happen with being involved at a club for so long and I probably haven't really seen those benefits of sticking around so long until probably the past six or seven years."
While the Eagles have had a profound impact on Turner's life, so too has he had on the club in which he first played with in 2002.
And it's fair to say plenty has changed at the Eagles since Turner made the move from Sandhurst.
Back then the club was simply known as YCW, played at Golden Square's Backhaus Oval and wore a blue and white hooped jumper.
These days the club has changed names to Maiden Gully YCW, location to Maiden Gully's Marist College and jumper to a orange, blue and white design.
What hasn't changed though is the sight of Turner playing his role in the Eagles' backline.
The 41-year-old's tremendous loyalty to the Eagles will be recognised on Saturday when he plays his 300th senior game against Calivil United at home in the Loddon Valley league.
In what's a remarkable coincidence, Turner's 200 and 250-game milestones were also reached against the Demons.
The Eagles won his 200th game against the Demons by 10 points back in 2014 and were also victorious in his 250th over the Demons by 32 points, so in that regards the omens are positive in what has been a tough slog this year with just three wins.
While he's not one to have a fuss made over his 300th on Saturday, Turner did think the milestone may pass him by given the lack of football played over the past two years due to the entire Loddon Valley 2020 season being called off and last year's 2021 only being partially completed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"There has been quite a few milestones that have popped up for players this year that obviously would have happened a lot sooner," Turner said.
"No doubt there's players out there who have missed out on milestone games because of COVID and I suppose when you get to my age you never know if each year is going to be your last, so it has been good to keep pulling the boots on.
"Years ago I probably never thought I'd get to 250, so the 300 has never been a massive target for me; it has just been take each year as it comes and see what it happens.
"But it is nice to be able to get there."
Turner joined the Eagles in 2002 from Sandhurst and enjoyed immediate success, playing in a premiership in his first season at the club.
Having finished fourth on the ladder, the Eagles had to win four cut-throat finals to claim the premiership against Inglewood, Mitiamo, Newbridge and culminating in a 9.13 (67) to 4.5 (29) victory over Calivil United.
"I played under-18s and then a year or two out of the under-18s at Sandhurst and then changed over to the Eagles," Turner said.
"Sandhurst was a very strong side back then that was very hard to crack into and I don't know whether I would have been able to secure a permanent spot had I stuck around.
"So I decided to make the shift and winning that flag in the first year made it worthwhile straight away."
A 20-year celebration of that 2002 premiership - which remains the club's last senior flag - will be among a host of Eagles' flag reunions being held on Saturday.
"It's worked out really well that the guys Steve played with in that 2002 premiership will be able to watch him play his 300th game," Maiden Gully YCW coach Wayne Mitrovic said.
"Steve has probably thought about pulling the pin the past three years. I haven't put the pressure on him to keep playing, but the way it has turned out is we have really needed him and relied on him, so I'm glad he hasn't finished up.
"We manage his training; he trains one night a week, but he does something physical every night and to be honest, he probably does too much work in terms of running himself into the ground, but he just loves it
"He's really good in our backline in terms of instructing the positioning of the players and he's still really good one-on-one and with his reading of the play.
"It's a fantastic effort to get to 300 games with the club."
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