Aarryn Craig marks 250th senior match at North Bendigo


NORTH Bendigo captain Aarryn Craig marks his 250th senior match for the club in Saturday’s clash with Heathcote DFNL rival Colbinabbin.

Craig will lead the Bulldogs on to Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street for another big match in the 14th round of the Bendigo Bank-backed HDFNL season.

There have been plenty of highs, and some lows, throughout Craig’s run to the 250-game milestone.

“Every milestone match is important,” said Craig.

“To reach 250 games at the one club means a lot.”

On-ball, midfield, attack or defence, Craig has taken on and starred in many roles for the red, white and blue since his senior debut in 2008.

“I think the only position I have not played is the ruck.”

He made his way to the Atkins Street kennel to team up with his brother, Ash.

First senior coach was Mick Simpson.

Then followed Jay Weston, Damien Lock, Robert Bennett and Neville Massina, Matt Dillon, and Robert ‘Bomber’ Bennett again.

There were tough times and tough days, but in the past decade North Bendigo has grown to be a power in the Heathcote DFNL.

Aarryn Craig, captured in action by a Bendigo Advertiser photographer against Colbinabbin, has played a big part in the on-field success.

In 2015, Aarryn and Ash Craig were team-mates as the Bulldogs beat Leitchville Gunbower in the grand final by 10 points.

Victory against the Bombers ended a premiership drought which had run since 1977.

The Bulldogs went back-to-back when they beat LG in the 2016 grand final.

The next two seasons North Bendigo was beaten in grand finals by Leitchville Gunbower.

A fifth consecutive grand final appearance for Craig was capped with a six-goal triumph against Colbinabbin in 2019.

The Bulldogs go into this Saturday’s round in second place on a 9-2 record.

A nine-game winning streak was followed by away defeats to Mount Pleasant and Lockington Bamawm United.

“You never want to be beaten, but we learnt a lot from those matches,” Craig said.

Despite being a triple premiership player, one of 13 in North Bendigo’s history, Craig is hungry for more success.

“Expectations within this playing group are high.”

Among the strengths of Craig’s game are his precise disposal, especially on his natural left-foot, but he can be just as dangerous on the right.

“I take a lot of pride in winning one-on-one contests and setting an example.”

There have been many big games, especially at North Bendigo where Craig has kicked plenty of crucial goals and celebrated.

Among his biggest fans are wife, Carrene, and sons Harrison and Flynn.

Parents Rosie and Ian both play important off-field roles on matchday in the canteen and as gatekeeper respectively, and then there’s Aarryn’s siblings, Ash and Rhi.

Aarryn Craig’s outstanding play has earned multiple wins of the Steven Bennett Memorial Award as club champion, and being  a four-time inter-league representative.

His achievements, clubmanship and loyalty earned life membership of North Bendigo FNC in 2018.

Premiership captain is another tag he is aiming to add to his footballing CV.