200 and counting for former Robin
Thursday, 29th September, 2011
By Peter Argent
Former West BH footballer and now highly-respected Norwood player Stuart Bown will celebrate his 200th SANFL game on Sunday in a sudden-death preliminary final against Woodville-West Torrens.
Bown’s football journey has been full of peaks and troughs since he arrived at The Parade following a junior career with the Robins - where father Dale was a dual premiership player.
“Getting to 200 is pretty special,” the 33-year-old versatile key position player said.
“It seems like all the planets have aligned, as I missed only one game during the minor round.”
Bown has progressed through the grades at the Redlegs, enjoying premiership success at Under 19s level in 1997 and in the reserves 12 months later.
Two of his team mates during that period were current skipper James Gallagher and Matthew Dawes.
Dawes, who debuted on the same day as Bown in 1999 against Central District at Elizabeth, described his team mate of 10 years as “genuine and honest as the day is long”.
“Once you get to know him, he’s extremely funny in his own quirky way,” Dawes explained.
“He’s a true clubman, absolutely. ‘Bownie’ always has the Norwood Football Club at heart.
“Stu’s also the type of guy the supporters love to have a chat with - he’s always very approachable - and has time for everyone.
“Form wise he has really turned back the clock this year, reminding me of the way he played in the early 2000s when he was on the Crows list.”
Captain Gallagher’s first memory of the 191cm big man was during his first grand final with Bown in 1997.
“I was a skinny 17-year-old in that under 19s grand final and getting a bit of grief in what would have been just my third of fourth game in Norwood colours,” Gallagher recalled.
“Stuart was there in the thick of things, standing up for me.
“That was something I will never forget and he’s always been like that for his team mates.
“He is the sort of guy you want at your club and is a good physical presence on the ground,” Gallagher continued.
Returning to the club at the start of last season, Bown played 10 senior games including the thrilling five-point preliminary final victory over the Eagles, along with the enthralling - but equally frustrating - grand final, where the Redlegs went down by just one straight kick.
“My agreement with Norwood has been the same for the last couple of seasons.
“We’ll see how my body is - and it’s pretty good at the moment.
“The time I had off at the end of last year with my knee has been a great help.
“At the moment there are no excuses as to why I wouldn’t go on again next year.”
Bown confirmed the current campaign has been one of his best years from a consistency and performance point of view.
“I appreciate the way ‘Bass’ (Nathan Bassett) coaches and the way he prepares the team certainly has helped my game,” Bown continued.
“When I first arrived at the club we were in a strong era and I have been through those darker years when we were at the wrong end of the table.
“Right now the boys are looking to take our opportunities again.”
Second-year Norwood coach and Crows 200-game player Nathan Bassett has a strong respect for his veteran.
“Stu is just a solid all-round person who is committed to this football club,” Bassett said.
“He is here for all the right reasons and always has a ‘club first’ mentality.
“Stuart’s strengths are he is an experienced, team-orientated player and you can’t buy that at a football club.
“He is a real hard worker who enjoys helping people out.”
While Bown’s 200th game is a huge milestone, it is also a critical match for the Norwood Football Club as they seek a berth in the SANFL grand final for the second successive year.
A victory over Woodville-West Torrens would be icing on the 200-game cake for the former West Robin known to all as “Stewie”.