Sport

In the grandstand: Two for price of 11 worth it

By Shepparton News

The photo plastered on the front page of the Shepparton News on Monday September 28, 1981 told the story.

Robert ‘Biggles’ Brown and wife Linda embraced as the Seymour star saluted in his first premiership victory after 11 unsuccessful attempts.

It was pure relief for the ruckman and forward after being on the losing side so many times.

‘‘It wasn’t always a happy ending but I loved playing in finals,’’ Brown said

‘‘Come September and this time of the year it reminds me of finals and I just loved it.’’

Each year Brown made the grand final Linda would have champagne on ice in the boot of the car and each year the bottle was not popped in celebration.

There was not a bottle of bubbly in the car at Deakin Reserve in 1981 after Linda had given up bringing one along, but the moment the final siren rang out and showed Seymour clear victors against Shepparton was to be savoured.

Brown was key in the Lions going back-to-back the following year when he kicked seven goals and was best-on-ground in the premiership against Lemnos.

Some people find themselves at the right place at the right time, but Brown’s timing when it came to being at successful clubs for the ultimate result was always a little off.

He pulled on the Seymour jumper for the first time in 1967 when it was a member of the Waranga North East Football League, narrowly missing out on an opportunity to win a premiership.

‘‘When I finished school I thought ‘I wouldn’t mind having a game’ and a teacher was vice-captain of Seymour at the time and (Jim Tuckwell) lived just a couple of doors down,’’ Brown said.

‘‘He used to get into me and say ‘you’ve got to come down and have a go’ and I said ‘wait until I’ve finished school.’’

‘‘I should have taken his advice and played in 1966 because they won the premiership that year and when I started there was a long run (of losing grand finals).’’

Brown went directly into the senior team and after eight consecutive grand finals in a row was still was without a win.

‘‘You get grey hair,’’ he said.

‘‘All you can do is think ‘as long as I do my bit and prepare as well as I can and hopefully play as well as I can then what happens in the end happens.’’

Ian McRobert was Seymour’s coach in 1973-74 having come from Euroa but on returning to the Magpies he convinced Brown to join him so he played at Memorial Oval for three years from 1975.

‘‘He was a fantastic player and he was going back to Euroa the next year (in 1975) because Seymour had tried to get into the Goulburn Valley (League) and couldn’t get in,’’ Brown said.

‘‘Ian said ‘you ought to come up with me and play in the Goulburn Valley’ and I thought ‘it’s pretty good football I wouldn’t mind having a go.’’

But a change in club did not result in a change of fortune

‘‘The first year we were there Kyabram beat us in the grand final, that was number nine, and Seymour won back here in 1975,’’ Brown said.

‘‘The standard in Waranga had dropped off a fair bit and Seymour was admitted into the GVL in 1976 and they won it in their first year in the GV.’’

After enjoying his time at the Magpies, Brown was ready to return to his home club where he is named in the forward pocket in the Lions team of the century.

‘‘I loved the ruck, I used to go down forward but I loved ruck and had some rovers that made me look good,’’ Brown said.

While living in Melbourne for four years Brown trained at Fitzroy, but like many talented country footballers longed to return back to his roots.

‘‘I couldn’t wait to get out of the city,’’ Brown said.

‘‘I don’t know if I could have been anything (and played in the VFL) but I wonder sometimes.’’

Brown’s longevity in football saw him play in the seniors 40 year-old before handing up the boot in 1988s, but he kept taking to the cricket field for another 15 years.

He was more successful there playing in a host of premierships as a bowler, as he also had a penchant for basketball.

Now he takes to the bowling green for Seymour and for the talented sportsman lawn bowls was the most challenging sport to start.

‘‘It was the hardest sport to pick up, I could run alright and mark well enough but lawn bowls was hard, I’m still learning,’’ he said.

‘‘I was at Seymour VRI and love it, it was a good club but I had to leave because Linda took it up and they were a men’s only club so I’ve been at Seymour for the past couple of years.’’

Use the name ‘Robert Brown’ and event he most knowledgeable local football person will question who you’re talking about, with the nickname ‘Biggles’ the better way to get a reaction.

The nickname has followed Brown,70, throughout his life, after it first came to be in primary school.

‘‘I got the nickname in grade three, I used to listen to a radio documentary each night about a character called ‘Biggles’ and then I’d talk to a kid at school about it and then he called me Biggles one day for some reason and it stuck,’’ he said.

‘‘Even the teachers used to call me it, a lot of people don’t know what my real name is.’’

Brown might not have as many premiership medals as he had hoped, but the 1981 and 1982 medallions will always be the highlights of his length sporting career.

‘‘ I played in quite a lot of basketball, cricket and bowls premierships but only two footy,’’ he said.

‘‘But I remember those two and they’re pretty special.’’