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Stewie on track for achieving dreams

Wednesday, 1st June, 2011

ACTION MAN: Former West Broken Hill junior Stuart Bown is hoping to cap his stellar career with an SANFL premiership at Norwood this season. ACTION MAN: Former West Broken Hill junior Stuart Bown is hoping to cap his stellar career with an SANFL premiership at Norwood this season.

At the start of the football season the BDT launched a series profiling some of Broken Hill football's great exports. Today we turn the spotlight on Stuart Bown who, since starting with the West Football Club, has carved out a fine career in South Australia, including a stint with the Adelaide Crows.

By Peter Argent

One of the genuine nice guys of SANFL football, Stuart Bown, is a veteran of the Norwood Redlegs and craving a premiership to consummate his career.

His football started with the "Mighty Robins" - the West Broken Hill Football Club.

The love of the pigskin was always in his veins, as his dad was a member of the West premiership teams in 1978 and 1980. 

Stuart started with West as a youngster, enjoying continual success at junior grades from under 11s through to under 17s. 

Bown commended the strong junior mentors he had in the Silver City including Wayne Walker, Colin Tonkin and, at representative level, Brian Eddy from the Bulldogs. 

"I played my first A grade game as a 15-year-old," Bown recalled.

"We played against Central and I stood a long time servant of their club by the name of Brett Morris. 

"In the end I played 49 A grade games at the Robins, and there is a little frustration I didn't get to 50."

He also played one senior representative game for Broken Hill, ironically alongside former Essendon premiership player Dean Solomon. 

"I loved growing up in the Hill," Bown explained. 

"Being involved in basketball and skateboarding, along with my football. 

"I always wanted to finish my year 12 studies at Broken Hill High before going to Adelaide." 

The recruiting officer at The Parade during the late 1990s, Matthew Kelly, was also a big reason Bown decided to don the club's traditional red and navy jumper.

"We also has an association with Norwood through the Samboy Cup (SANFL under 15s competition) and I came down from Broken Hill to have a crack at becoming a league footballer," Bown said.

"In the under 19s I played in a premiership in 1997 (and was named Best and Fairest), under Grant Dalwood, the year the league side went top.

"Then we enjoyed another triumph at reserves level the following year (with Bown again named Best and Fairest).

"I made my league debut at Elizabeth against Central District in 1999, in the same game as Matthew Dawes, and we had a win. 

"'Dawesy' was also involved in those under 19 and reserves premierships as well." 

At 191cms and 91kgs, Bown is a key position footballer who suggested he's played nearly every position on the ground, but was predominantly a centre-half-forward or centre-half-back. 

In this year's May 20 Friday night game against Port Adelaide, Bown kicked a career-high six goals in the Redlegs round seven clash with the Magpies. 

Interestingly in that match, Bown, along with fellow Broken Hill product Taylor Walker, kicked 11 goals between them.

Bown's own AFL career was restricted to four games (for three wins) in 2001. Wearing the number 44 jumper, Stewie's time at the top level may have been brief, but he covered a lot of territory as he appeared in matches at the MCG, Brisbane's Gabba and York Park in Tasmania.

In his first stint at the Redlegs Bown played 168 SANFL senior games between 1999 and 2008, before spending the 2009 winter on the sidelines. 

He was approached about a coaching role at Norwood before the start of last season, but Bown decided he was still able to make an impact as a player. 

"I was certainly ready to retire at the end of '08, but helping out "Knighter" (former team mate Ben Knights) coach Pembroke College Year 11 and 12s, gave me a different perspective on the game," Bown explained. 

"This, along with a friendship with Nathan Bassett, who was Norwood's senior coach, made me eager to come back." 

The decision proved fruitful for all parties. 

Norwood made its first grand final since 1997 and Bown played 10 games at league level, including the season decider, despite later admitting he was playing on one leg. 

On Sunday, October 3, 2010, the Redlegs (and Bown) participated in one of the most exciting SANFL Grand Finals in recent memory. 

Despite the thrilling finish, frustratingly for the Norwood faithful they went down by six points. 

A carpenter by trade, Bown and his wife Emily are now proud parents to an 11-month old son, Loki. 

Along with his football and work commitments, his new son keeps the much loved character at the Redlegs busy. 

Having played his eighth senior game of the year last week against West, if Stewie can play every match and Norwood participate in a pair of finals, he many achieve both his dreams - an SANFL league premiership and 200 games for his beloved club. 

This is something that looked out of the question just a couple of short years ago. 

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