Sport AFL All hail Jonathan Brown, the anti-Buddy

All hail Jonathan Brown, the anti-Buddy

Jonathan Brown
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If Jonathan Brown has got a tattoo, I don’t want to see it. If he prefers boutique lager, I don’t want to know. And if he brings out a range of underwear, you can bloody well put me out of my misery.

Brown was the anti-Buddy, the Royboy, the Big Fella.

He was a flag bearer for the dying art of understatement, a laconic, loyal country bloke – definitely not a “guy” – who was steeped in the team ethos and eschewed the cult of personality.

Jonathan Brown was knocked out early in the 2003 grand final, but came back to boot two goals. Photo: Getty

He carried the flame for the likes of Terry Daniher, who always took a bit of Ungarie with him wherever he went, and a whole generation of footballers before that, for whom the definition of accessorising was a Gladstone bag containing a corned beef sandwich and an apple.

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He was courageous, but didn’t feel the need to tell the world about it.

He was hard, but not (too) dirty.

He had an appetite for beer, but did not carry on like (too much of) a pork chop.

He was enormously strong (those mighty hands!), not gym-chiselled.

His play was devastating, not flamboyant.

His celebrations were about team, not self.

The man was a walking antidote to the overpaid haircuts we have seen running around in Brazil and, increasingly, in the AFL, with loyalty only to their own ‘brands’.

He was so authentic he could even go on Channel Nine without being self important.

An ABC television host said this week she hoped Brown was picked up as a commentator. It would be more romantic if he disappeared into the front bar of a Warrnambool hotel.

But if he does go into the burgeoning ‘expert’ business – and, of course, he has as much right as the next man – hopefully he will follow in the footsteps of Allan Border, who, even when he is wearing a suit still looks like he belongs in cut-off jeans and thongs. Or Jack Dyer, a man of such presence that no external force could shape him.

God forbid that he should become a ‘personality’. He is too real for that.

The face of sport is changing, for better or worse. But we may never see the likes of Jonathan Brown again, and we should acknowledge his passing.  

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