Darren O'Brien

Darren O'Brien (born 22 March 1969) is a former Australian rules footballer who played for Melbourne Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL) and for West Perth Football Club in the West Australian Football League (WAFL).

Darren O'Brien
Personal information
Full name Darren O'Brien
Date of birth (1969-03-22) 22 March 1969
Original team(s) West Perth
Draft 60th overall, 1995 National Draft
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 80 kg (176 lb)
Position(s) Midfielder
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1996–1997 Melbourne 24 (9)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1997.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Early career

Originally from Collie, Western Australia,[1] O'Brien began his playing career with West Perth in the WAFL.[2] He played 141 senior WAFL games from 1988 to 1995 (and a further 19 games in 1998) for a return of 83 goals and, after winning a WAFL Grand Final with West Perth in 1995, he became the subject of interest from AFL clubs, despite being 26 years old.[3] Known as centreman with a penetrating left foot kick, O'Brien was drafted by Melbourne with the 60th selection in the 1995 National Draft, in what was described as the "surprise of the draft because of his age" by The Age.[3] The Demons' football manager, Richard Griffiths, said the club was "very pleased with ... the experience of O'Brien"[3] and Rohan Connolly wrote that he was "rated highly by good judges" and "possibly ready-made [for AFL]".[4] After being selected, O'Brien agreed to move to Melbourne from his native Perth.[3]

AFL career

With Melbourne's best midfielder, Todd Viney, leaving the club during the 1996 pre-season, O'Brien, due to his experience, was expected to help fill the void left by Viney in the Demons' midfield.[5][6] O'Brien played his first game for the Demons in Melbourne's first match of the year, a pre-season game against Adelaide.[7] His second match for Melbourne, also a pre-season game, was impressive, kicking three goals in a 14-point victory.[8] At the beginning of the home and away season, O'Brien was named in Melbourne's best 21 players and described as their "rookie to watch" by Ashley Browne in The Age.[9] O'Brien was named in squad to play Collingwood in round 2,[10] but the coaching staff were reluctant to play him "because of his lack of pace" and he did not make the final team.[11] Instead, O'Brien played in the reserves and was reported. His hearing at the AFL tribunal was the first heard to be heard by a female member;[12] he was not suspended. O'Brien made his AFL debut in round 4 against Carlton. He had a mediocre performance, gathering five possessions and laying five tackles. O'Brien remained in the side for the next three matches, all of which Melbourne lost, and he was dropped back to the reserves after a 10 disposal game against Sydney. He was recalled to the seniors for round 13 where he recorded his first win at AFL level, despite a poor performance personally. O'Brien subsequently established himself as a regular in the side, missing only one game for the rest of the season, round 20, due to a hamstring injury.[13] Often used in a tagging role, such as against Brownlow Medal winner Paul Couch,[14] O'Brien was also attacking offensively, kicking seven goals in a six-week period, amassing 27 possessions in a round 18 match against Sydney and being named in Melbourne's best players in their round 19 clash with Carlton.[15]

After playing in Melbourne's first pre-season match of 1997,[16] O'Brien was unable to hold his place in the senior side and was dropped back to the reserves.[17] Playing in the reserves, O'Brien injured his knee and missed a month of football as a result.[18][19] Despite winning Melbourne's 'Best First Year Player' award in 1996, O'Brien did not play a senior match in 1997 until round 8 against Geelong.[20] He remained in the team until being omitted for round 15,[21] but was back in the side the very next week. Dropped again for round 17, O'Brien made his way back into the seniors for round 20, finishing off the season with three consecutive games. Despite playing 24 of a possible 44 matches for Melbourne in his two years at the club, the 28-year-old O'Brien was delisted by the Demons at the conclusion of the 1997 season.[22]

Back to the WAFL

After being delisted, O'Brien nominated for the 1997 National Draft,[23] but was not selected by any of the clubs, thereby ending his AFL career. O'Brien then signed with his old side, West Perth, and played with the Falcons for the 1998 WAFL season. He played 19 games and kicked 14 goals in what was his last season in the WAFL.


  1. "Every League Premiership Player in Page Finals System Era: 1931–2009". West Australian Football League. 16 January 2010. p. 11. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  2. "The full draft list". The Age. 9 December 1995. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  3. "Who your club selected". The Age. 9 December 1995. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  4. Connolly, Rohan (10 December 1995). "Choices reveal changing trend". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  5. Niall, Jake (4 February 1996). "A hole in the middle". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  6. Balme, Neil (25 February 1996). "Facing up to the challenge". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  7. Linnell, Stephen (23 February 1996). "Melee rule flawed, say Cats". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  8. Browne, Ashley (2 March 1996). "Demons lose Febey in new injury blow". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  9. Browne, Ashley (25 March 1996). "Wishing and hoping for September glory". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  10. Happell, Charles (4 April 1996). "Collingwood v Melbourne". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  11. Blake, Martin (8 April 1996). "Melbourne battling to keep pace with rivals". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  12. "The Footy Panel". The Age. 11 April 1996. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  13. "AFL injury list". The Age. 20 August 1996. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  14. Lovett, Michael (20 July 1996). "Time On". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  15. Howell, Stephen (10 August 1996). "Time On". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  16. Denham, Greg (25 February 1997). "Madden left out as Blues bring on young ruckmen". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  17. Browne, Ashley; Wright, Gerard (15 March 1997). "Demon leader back in the action". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  18. Denham, Greg; Browne, Ashley (26 March 1997). "Cats lose Hocking for two matches". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  19. Denham, Greg; Mithen, Anthony (22 April 1997). "'Fatigue' setback for Lions' Lynch". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  20. Howell, Stephen (17 May 1997). "Sidelined Ablett finds his voice". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  21. Browne, Ashley; Reilly, Stephen (10 July 1997). "Barnes, Crocker in for vital clash". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  22. Reilly, Stephen (15 October 1997). "Port bid to make deal for Naish". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  23. Denham, Greg (30 October 1997). "Delisted Demon Clarkson returns as a fitness coach". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
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