Career: 1954 - 1957
Debut: Round 3, 1954 vs Richmond, aged 22 years, 20 days
Carlton Player No. 680
Games : 9
Goals : 3
Last Game : Round 12, 1957 vs Hawthorn, aged 25 years, 86 days
Guernsey Nos. 22 (1954-56), 32 (1956) and 37 (1957)
Height: 188 cm (6 ft. 2 in.)
Weight: 100 kg (15 stone, 10 lbs.)
DOB: 10 April, 1932
A vigorous ruckman with strong family ties to the Carlton Football Club, Kevin James O’Brien was born in Melbourne’s inner-western suburbs at Newport, and recruited by the Blues from Parade College at East Melbourne (the "Old Bluestone Pile") in 1953.
A nephew of Carlton Hall of Fame member Paddy O'Brien, and brother in-law to North Melbourne’s Bryan ‘Skinny’ Martyn, Kevin wore guernsey 22 in his first couple of seasons at Princes Park, which began on a high when he was a member of the Blues’ 1953 Reserves Premiership team.
He made his senior debut in a defeat by Richmond at the Punt Road Oval in round 3, 1954, and kicked his first career goal the following week against Footscray at Princes Park, in an extraordinary game that saw the Bulldogs’ full-forward Jack Collins boot nine goals in the first half (and none thereafter) as the Bulldogs held off the fast-finishing Blues by 11 points. The following Saturday, Kevin’s third match brought up his first win – by 3 points over Essendon at Windy Hill in round 5.
In 1955, O’Brien was granted leave of absence by the club, but retained on the list “to be considered for selection when available.” As things turned out, that wasn’t until midway through 1956, when Carlton lost to Melbourne at the MCG in round 13, and he spent most of the afternoon sitting outside the boundary as 19th man.
In 1957 O’Brien switched to guernsey 37 before adding another five matches to his tally. In four of those games, he started from the bench as either 19th or 20th man – including his last appearance for the club in a nine-point win over Hawthorn at Glenferrie Oval in round 12.
Kevin O’Brien was also an outstanding junior tennis player.
He was residentially tied to South Melbourne, but given a clearance to Carlton in May 1952. Kevin had captained a Victorian schoolboys team a few years earlier. (Argus May 14 1952 p9)
The Argus March 25 1953 (p11); "He can be classed as an intellectual giant, as, besides being 6ft. 4in. and 15st., he speaks six languages."
Kevin’s nephew, Mick Martyn (a dual Premiership full-back at North Melbourne) crossed to Carlton in 2003, to play the last 13 of his 300 AFL games with the Blues.