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Dave Brown: The Bradman of League

Known as 'The Bradman of League', Dave Brown's illustrious career in Red, White and Blue featured Premiership triumphs, representative honours and records which still stand to this day. 

Name: David Michael Brown
Nickname: The Bradman of League
DOB: 04/04/1913
Club Debut: Round 9, 1930 vs St George
Roosters Player No. 202
First-Grade Games for Club: 94
First-Grade Points for Club: 667 from 93 tries, 192 goals and 2 field goals
Premierships: 3 (1935*, 1936, 1940*) 

*Did not appear in Grand Final
Representative Career: 4 games for City Firsts
1 game for City Seconds
1 game for Metropolis
1 game for Sydney
1 game for Kangaroos
19 games for NSW Interstate Series
3 games for NSW Touring Sides
9 Test Matches for Australia
31 Tour Matches for Australia
Individual Accolades: Youngest Player to Captain Australia Age 22 (1935)
Premiership Record for Most Points in a Game: 45 (1935)
Premiership Record for Most Tries in a Season: 38 (1935)
No.9 Ranked Rugby League Week's Top 100 Players (1992)
Sydney Roosters Team of the Century (2000)
Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame (2003)
International Rugby League Hall of Fame (2003)
Australian Rugby League's 100 Greatest Players (2007)
New South Wales Team of the Century (2008)
Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame (2010)
Rugby League Immortal (2018)

A point-scoring machine with remarkable skill and achievement, Brown carved out one of the greatest careers in Australian Rugby League, and overcame a number of hardships before shining on the biggest of stages. 

Born in Hurstville, Brown's legacy in the Eastern Suburbs began after a move to Bronte at an early age after his father became the first full-time Lifesaver at Bondi Beach.

His first hurdle came at age 14 after severely damaging his arm, unable to completely straighten it afterwards, and then had the top of one of his thumbs sliced off following a lawnmower accident - but the incidents would prove to be minor setbacks as he forged a mighty career in Red, White and Blue.

Attending Waverley College and becoming an accomplished junior and senior belt champion at Bronte Life Saving Club, Brown made his first-grade debut as a 16-year-old in Round 9 of the 1930 season against St George. His point-scoring feats were foreshadowed in a strong debut season, scoring seven tries in eight matches, and from there, his career flourished. 

Making his debut for NSW in just his second season in the top grade, Brown was named captain of his state in 1932 aged 19, before illness saw him lose hair and adopt headgear to prevent serious bruises and grazes - but once again this would prove to be a beneficiary as the brown leather cap became his trademark for the remainder of his stellar career. 

Debuting for Australia, he scored a record 285 points from 19 tries and 114 goals on the 1933-34 Kangaroo Tour while playing 32 of 37 matches. To put things into perspective, the rest of the 26-man squad combined for a total of 20 points.

Season 1935 was a memorable one for Brown, and one of the greatest individual seasons in the code's history.

The headgear-clad centre scored 244 points in the regular season (a record which stood for 34 years) which included 45 points in a single match (with 5 tries and 15 goals) and 38 tries for the season, both of which still stand as records to this day.

Needing two points to break Dally Messenger's point-scoring record in the final round of the competition, Brown did so seamlessly in the first two minutes of the match with a solo try and finished the match with five more. Messenger congratulated Brown at half-time, and teammates chaired him off the field after the sublime 80 minutes. 

Despite missing the Grand Final due to injury, Brown captained Easts to the Premiership, kick-starting a hat-trick of titles for the Tricolours while becoming Australia's youngest Test Captain on the 1935 Tour of New Zealand, aged 22. 

'Brownie' is one of those fellows whom it is impossible to convince of his own greatness.

Viv Thicknesse Eastern Suburbs Teammate

In total, Brown scored 25 points on four occasions for Easts in 1935, captaining every match he appeared in and scored 385 points across Club, State and International responsibilities. 

Before leaving to England for a lucrative deal - where he had his own successes -Brown led Eastern Suburbs to another Premiership in 1936 and returned to play the final two matches of 1939 with the Club.

Almost as if his mere presence upon return was enough, he then captain-coached Eastern Suburbs to the 1940 Premiership, but once again missed the Grand Final due to injury, and led the side to Grand Final defeat in his final season in 1941, retiring at the tender age of 28. 

Following his esteemed career on the field, Brown took over the head coaching role in 1943, before returning for three seasons between 1957-1959.

His passion for education evolved as he became NSW Rugby League's first Schools Liaison Officer, a position he held for over a decade. Brown stayed in close proximity to the Club, taking the role as Vice President and was named a Life Member before his passing in 1974 - ironically a season where the Club would break a 29-year drought to claim the Premiership in honour of their fallen captain. 

Following retirement, the unofficial award for man of the match in the Grand Final was the Dave Brown Medallion until 1986 where it was renamed the Clive Churchill Medal. 

Dave Brown | Immortal

In 1992, Brown was ranked no.9 in Rugby League Week's Top 100 Players, named in the centres in the Sydney Roosters Team of the Century in 2000, and in 2003 was named in both the Australian and International Rugby League Hall of Fame.

He was named in the Australian Rugby League's 100 Greatest Players in 2007 and the New South Wales Team of the Century in 2008 and was an inaugural inductee into the Sydney Roosters Hall of Fame before becoming a Rugby League Immortal in 2018. 

A modest champion, a team player and a winner, Dave Brown is still loved and revered by Rugby League enthusiasts and continues to hold point-scoring records that may never be broken. Needless to say, Dave Brown is the Bradman of League. 

 

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