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THE TASMANIAN TIGER by Whispering Jack


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I first saw Ben Brown on a cold Tuesday night in May, 2013 playing for the Werribee Tigers against Queanbeyan in a televised Foxtel Cup game before a sparse crowd at Etihad Stadium. His teammate and former Demon Jordan Gysberts was the star of the side’s 85-point belting of the hapless ACT club but the then 20 year old, 200cm Brown was also a stand out. 

Earlier that year, the athletic big man had left his native Tasmania in an effort to make the grade after being overlooked in three drafts. The man with the mop of unruly hair, the bearing of a high jumper and the number 50 on his back, read the play well out of defence that night and went forward to kick three goals. When his team was knocked out in a low scoring semi final by East Fremantle a month or so later, Brown was named the side’s best player. The Tasmanian Tiger was destined for bigger things — North Melbourne picked him with its third selection in the AFL Draft later in the year and he was soon impressing the football world with his high marking and distinctive run up for goal.

After breaking into the side in mid 2014, Brown made the full forward position his home and he won the goal kicking at North Melbourne four times (2016-9), booting more than 60 goals and featuring in Coleman Medal calculations in each of the last three of those seasons. The journalism student was also an impressive performer in the media and starred in an edition of Foxtel’s Open Mike turning the tables on compere Mike Sheahan. 

A knee injury curtailed his output this year and, after 130 games and 287 goals with North, he was traded to Melbourne earlier this month.

Brown has great football bloodlines. His grandfather Jim Manson was a top line player who won the best and fairest at Glenorchy and is Tasmanian Hall of Famer. Brown’s uncle James Manson played in Collingwood’s 1990 premiership team. The young Ben Brown represented his state in the Tassie Mariners Under 18 team and then played with Glenorchy before moving across Bass Strait to play with Werribee. 

The Demons are hoping that Brown will have an immediate impact by straightening up its forward line which has lacked potency since the departure of Jesse Hogan at the end of 2018. Melbourne GM of Football Josh Mahoney said of him last week,

“What we’re excited about with Ben Brown is not only what he can bring, but what he can do to help the development of Sam Weideman and Luke Jackson.”

The Tasmanian has worn the number 50 guernsey throughout his years in Melbourne and he’s put his hand up for the number again at his new club. Demon fans will be hoping that it won’t be too long before they can put the pandemic behind them and return to watch the bearer of the distinctive number 50 rise above a pack in the forward line, pluck the Sherrin out of the air with his vice-like grip and welcome the return of football to the MCG. 

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