This weekend St.Kevins Old Collegians Cricket Club (SKOCCC) celebrate the milestone 300th game of club legend, Stephen Browne. ‘Brownie’ is only the second player to reach this landmark (after his great friend Adrian Giffin) and is a figure who has contributed as much as anyone to the club and broader Old Boy’s community.
His contributions are as enormous as they are far ranging. As a player, he played in two premierships, one in 1983 under Mick Blood Snr and a second in 2010 under Adrian Giffin, as well as many more near-run finals across all teams. In his 299 games so far, he has scored 3597 runs at an average of 14.68 and managed to prise out 3 wickets at a miserly average of 28. Some of his notable performances include a score of 122 in the 2nd XI as part of a massive 200 run partnership with a 15-year-old Andrew Fernon in 1995. In December of 2002, also in the 2nd XI, Brownie came in at 5/60 chasing East Doncaster’s 230 and with Nick Moore put on over 170 runs together to win the game.
As a Club President and committeeman, Brownie has overseen five 1st XI premierships for SKOBCC. He notably oversaw a particularly difficult period from 1999 when the club was struggling on multiple fronts, and just like today, had made the tough decision to drop the 3rd XI for the season. It was Brownie, as President, who refused to give in and insisted upon seeing it out to fighting for the club’s viability. He worked tirelessly to marshal the committee and senior players to recruit new members and create an environment in which guys wanted to come and play – and stay.
Two years later, in March 2001, SKOBCC won three senior premierships on the same weekend. We had reinstated a 3rd XI, and all three sides won flags. It was a historic achievement and Brownie deserves enormous credit as the driving force behind the club’s remarkable resurrection. During that time, players recall him personally driving new recruits from the school to and from games to help acclimate them, many of them going on to be huge contributors since. It is an inspiration the club can still draw from today.
As a curator, Brownie has a formidable (and staunchly defended) reputation for his preparations. No-one could ever accuse Yarra Bend of being pretty, yet measured by sheer games played in all variety of conditions, his record with wicket preparation is peerless. On more than one occasion during premierships years, the club won important games on weekends when the majority of the competition was washed out.
Former President James Aanensen remarked of Brownie’s efforts, that “no man should have single handedly lugged covers on and off cricket grounds as much as Brownie has, at all sorts of hours – I’ve done it a handful of times myself, and it’s horrific. He’s done it more times than he’s had hot dinners.”
He also has a hand in maintaining the club rooms at Yarra Bend, including many pre-season working bees spearheaded by his barking orders, and post season pack ups, lugging everything into storage on early Saturday morning hauls. Brownie was always there, and always in charge – tirelessly, when few others volunteered. Those in the football community would recognise these comments, with his similar contributions for SKOBFC.
Finally, as a clubman, Brownie is a generous man with a no-nonsense approach. Tenacious, never-give-an-inch in demeanour, yet always approachable. For years he prepared the barbeques at St Kevin’s on Thursday nights and has been an enduring figure at all functions and games (along with the colourful language he can conjure). The man has simply given a part of himself to our club, and for that we are all endlessly thankful.
Brownie will be hanging up the bat after this one last stand, so encourage anyone to come down to Olney Oval at Yarra Bend on Sunday 3 February and enjoy a day of celebration, where there will be food and drinks available for purchase. The Browne’s will also be hosting an evening commemoration to reminisce and enjoy some food and drinks, provided for a flat cost of $10/head.