YOU would think it would be near impossible to switch off from footy in a town that thrives on it, that’s unless you are Brandon Symes.
Not much fazes the lanky Yarrawonga star with the ginger locks and 195-centimetre frame, one who feels just at home in the cab of a tractor as he does in the middle of the J.C. Lowe Oval with the footy in his hands.
Off a large cropping farm at Lake Rowan, near Tungamah — he also works for the Dowling brothers at Yarrawonga — Symes is one of a handful of Pigeons who come off the land.
And it says a lot about him, too.
Honest, hard-working and reserved to those he doesn’t know, Symes’ lifestyle means he doesn’t think about footy 24/7.
And that’s a good thing heading into today’s big semi-final against Wangaratta Rovers at Norm Minns Oval.
“The farm’s good, it takes your mind off footy,” he says.
The laidback 21-year-old is the prototype for a modern ruckman.
Quick, agile, aggressive, brave and with a leap on him to rival Russell Robertson, Symes is a major reason why Yarrawonga won the minor premiership and is just a win away from a fourth consecutive grand final.
Some believe Symes will feature prominently in the club’s best-and-fairest count on October 5, a statement that would have been hard to believe 12 months ago.
No longer does he have to wait in the wings behind the likes of Sam Keenan and Steve McKee, Symes is now the No. 1 big man at the club.
He had offers to go elsewhere but has been rewarded for his patience and loyalty.
Symes, who was best-afield in last year’s reserves flag, has featured in all 18 senior games this season after playing just five last year.
He has been Yarrawonga’s best in its two wins against the Rovers.
“This year has been my best year,” Symes said.
“I’ve played every game in the seniors which is the first time I’ve done that.
“I’ve cemented my spot now.
“I was always going to stay at Yarra and I’m glad I stayed, especially with the season we are having.”
In one of the most mouth-watering match-ups of the finals series, Symes and Wangaratta Rovers star Karl Norman will go head-to-head today in a pivotal duel that will be well worth following.
Like most involved in the Ovens and Murray league, Symes is in awe of Norman’s talent.
“He’s a gun,” he says.
“He plays as a ruckman as well as an onballer, he uses the ball really well.
“He’s definitely up there with the best ruckmen in the comp.”
As is Symes, you just won’t hear him say it.
Brandon Symes will be a key player for Yarrawonga today. Picture: TARA ASHWORTH
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