Michael OConnor was well known as a foot balling magician long before he strode onto Brookvale Oval in 1987 for the first time. He had a distinguished Union career as a Wallaby before moving to the professional game at St George in the mid eighties.
At the end of the 1986 season Manly coach Bob Fulton was looking for the missing link in a talented Manly backline that contained such players as Cliff Lyons, Dale Shearer and Des Hasler.
Despite playing at Kogarah, OConnor known affectionately as Snozâ€? due to his
massive hooter, worked for Manlys major sponsor at the time, Wormald, whose head office was nothing more than a pitching wedge from Manly Leagues Club and Brookvale Oval.
Snoz fitted Bozos requirements perfectably and using their sponsors connection went after the dual international aggressively and secured the missing link so sorely needed to bring premiership success.
Snozs silky skills with the ball, great line breaking ability and reliable goal kicking brought almost immediate success as Manly went on undefeated run that took them all the way to the 1987 premiership victory.
He left many a defender in his wake over the next few years and along with Cliff Lyons was our backline general that returned us many victories although not another premiership success. During this period he also captained the club until his retirement in 1992, he played 115 games and amassed 54 tries, 170 goals and 2 field goals.
Snoz had a glittering representative career representing his country 19 times and his state 17 times in State of Origin. He set a number of national point scoring records during his Kangaroo tours in the UK. He is however best remembered for kicking an astonishing sideline conversion of a Mark McGaw try in pouring rain with seconds left on the clock in a State of Origin match at the SFS that secured victory for NSW.
Sadly in his last game at Brookvale Oval, which Manly had to win to make the Semi Finals, a late Illawarra try as a result of a Tony Iro dropped ball, after the final siren denied Manly victory and Snoz one last crack at premiership glory. Snoz however took the loss on the chin in a sportsman like manner, exactly the same quality he showed throughout his fabulous career, and went around Brookie doing a lap of honour to the fond farewell from appreciative supporters still at the ground despite a heartbreaking loss.
However even more sadly after his retirement OConnor was a main player in the Super League war for News Ltd and this almost lead to the destruction of the Manly club he so ably represented for 6 seasons.
Snoz now works for the ARU as a talent scout but he will always be remembered at Brookvale as the graceful centre and a premiership winning legend.