Gavin Brown

Magpie Legends: Gavin ‘Rowdy’ Brown


Fact File:
Games: 254
Goals: 195
Height: 184cm
Weight: 86kgs
Debut: 1987
D.O.B: 25/9/67
Previous Club: Templestowe
Position: Wing

Collingwood Team of the Century
1990 Premiership Team
Collingwood captain 1994-98
All Australian 1989, 1991, 1994
Copeland Trophy 1989, 1994, 1997
Victorian State captain 1997
Represented Victoria 11 Times
EJ Whitten Medal

1989, 1997

Gavin ‘Rowdy’ Brown – Collingwood Personified:

Gavin was born on the 25th of September 1967, and instantly, Brown was a keen Magpie supporter. As Brown grew in age, his footballing talent became very apparent. He was soon noticed by Collingwood recruiting manager Ross ‘Twiggy’ Dunne as a 15 year old and was snapped up by the Pies. However, Brown could just as easily have ended up at Fitzroy, as he was in their recruiting zone, but fortunately, Collingwood were able to hang onto him.

Brown spent his early days at Collingwood in the under 19’s coached by Keith Burns. He was quiet, which hints at why his nickname is ‘Rowdy’, and he was low on confidence, thus, the club was looking to delist him if he did not perform. However, Burns placed Brown in the back pocket midway through the season where he flourished, as the star players led him to the ball. In 1986, Brown was a member of the under 19’s premiership side. During that season, Brown played alongside players such as Gavin Crossica, Damian Monkhurst and Mick McGuane – who together formed the nucleus of the famous 1990 premiership side.

In his first season in the seniors, Brown struggled to get off the ground. Although he played 16 games, he did not cement his position in the side. However, 1988 was a solid year for Brown, who escaped the ‘second year blues’. Brown played 23 games for six goals as his side lost its way in the finals. In 1989, Brown showed the football community just what he was capable of, playing 22 matches, winning the Copeland Trophy and picking up the E.J. Whitten Medal (for best afield, for Victoria, in a State of Origin match) along the way.

The season of 1990 was where Collingwood finally reached its full potential, winning the flag for the first time in 32 years (first since 1958), with many of the younger Collingwood players, including Brown, showing the way for the side. In that year, Brown played 18 games for 49 goals playing as a mobile forward. Brown showed his versatility, not only could he go forward, he could go back, or play in the middle.

Needless to say, Brown’s most controversial day of the 1990 season came on Grand Final day, when after kicking his first goal late in the first quarter; a massive brawl erupted at quarter time, with every player on the field involved. Brown charged into the fray while followed by opponent Terry Danniher (Terry was, until recently, an assistant coach, alongside Brown, at the Pies). After Brown struck Don player, Kieran Sporn, Danniher struck Brown – concussing him and seeing him out for the second quarter. Many believe this spurred Collingwood on to go onto win the flag. Brown returned late in the third quarter, in heroic display, to score another goal to help see the Pies to victory. Many may remember Brown coming onto the ground, and facing up to Terry Danniher. It shall remain as one of the most vivid memories, for most Pies supporters of that day.

Following on from 1990, the year 1991 was a solid season for Brown, but not for Collingwood. The team slipped out of the finals only a year after being premiers. Many believe they had the ability to win the premiership back to back, but it seems a premiership hangover was a key cause of the team failing to do so. Unfortunately, tragedy struck at the season’s end with the death of close friend, Darren Millane in a car accident. Darren was the last player to hold the ball in the 1990 Grand Final. He was a champion player, and the memory of him throwing the ball aloft, at the end of the Grand Final, shall remain in all Collingwood supporters minds for a very long time.

Darren’s death inspired Collingwood, and Brown to bigger and better things in 1992, with the Pies finishing equal first. Despite this, they were defeated in the first week of the finals by St.Kilda at Waverley Park. Finishing equal top, should have seen the Pies gain a double chance, however, due to the flawed nature of the finals series at that time, Collingwood did not receive the double chance, and therefore, went out in straight sets.

The year 1993 was not Collingwood or Brown’s best season, as the Pies missed the finals with Brown only playing 12 games for nine goals. Brown’s season was crippled by injury as the Pies slumped into eight position. A position that could have seen them make the finals the following year, after the finals system changed to a Top 8.

However, 1994 was a much better season for Brown, who tied for the Copeland Trophy, along with newcomer, Nathan Buckley. He played 21 games for 17 goals in his first season as captain. Although he was quiet off the field, Brown let his actions do the talking on the field with his desperate efforts. Collingwood finished eighth, and therefore had to travel to Perth to face the West Coast Eagles in a do or die final. Collingwood went down to the eventual premiers by only two points. The sad part for the Pies was that they could have won, had star midfielder, Mick McGuane, not dropped a mark 50 meters out in the dying moments. Many Collingwood supporters will remember the low act of West Coast Eagles captain, John Worsfold (now WCE coach), who gave it to Mick for dropping the mark. The Pies, and Gavin, tried valienty, in what was to be Tony Shaw’s last game of football.

In 1995, Collingwood get off to a slow start before missing the finals by a whisker. Although he tried hard, Brown couldn’t lift his side to the finals. The end of the season was the end of the road for Coach Leigh Matthews, who was replaced by favourite son Tony Shaw.

In 1996 Brown had to fight through injury to be a solid performer all season. His best match came against Adelaide in round 21 when he picked up 24 possessions and scored one goal. At the conclusion on 1996, many clubs including Melbourne chased Brown hard but he stayed true to his side. Brown’s faith was payed off when Shaw moved him back to the wing, where he dominated, to pick up his third Copeland Trophy. Brown’s courageous efforts were fantastic, along with his strong defence.

Although he tried hard in 1998, Brown was weighed down by injury and his form dipped. Brown, always tried hard, despite the obstacles that were often placed in front of him. Unfortunately, Collingwood again missed the finals, in an era that was to be the Pies’ lowest ebb in it’s history.

In season 1999, Brown handed over the captaincy to Nathan Buckley. The lift of the captaincy burden was evident when Brown was third in the best and fairest in a season where he played as a forward – the perfect fall for full forward Sav Rocca. Despite winning the wooden spoon, Brown never gave in, often giving his young side a lift when he dashed into the midfield.

The season 2000 was Browns last at AFL level. After a slow start in the season opener against Hawthorn, Brown was dropped to the VFL for round two. Brown responded with six goals in a best on ground performance and won himself back a spot in the side. For the rest of the season, Brown played as a forward to great effect as he helped young side through some tough times. In his last match, Brown performed admirably as his side went down to Essendon.

Brown retired after 254 games and 195 goals and will be remembered as one of Collingwood’s greatest players. Since 2001, Brown has been an assistant coach at the club.

Rightfully, in 2004, Brown was selected in the clubs inaugural Hall of Fame as one of Collingwood’s favourite sons.