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The Tragic Story of Rod Owen



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I first saw him in 1982 when he was starring for the St Francis junior football team in a Chelsea District Junior Football League match. Rod Owen was just 15 and already built like a man. A year later, he was playing for St. Kilda. A year after that, he was already an alcoholic and a drug addict. The troubled young footballer suffered injuries and managed only 60 games in a chequered career of eight years with the Saints before he was traded to Melbourne in 1991. He was spectacular in his brief stint at the Demons but managed only nine games (and two five goal hauls) before he was traded again  — this time to the Brisbane Bears.

This painful story is a long and harrowing read that details the horrors of abuse as a child by a teacher and by the uncaring officials who advised a 16 year old to sign away his life to a football club and not worry about school just weeks after his father’s passing. It’s a narrative about the tragic journey of a young man who appeared to have the sporting world at his feet but who never achieved the dream of sporting heroism and instead, endured the darkness of addiction, prison and a long journey towards rehabilitation.

None of this was imaginable to me when I first saw the young Rod Owen wearing the green and white guernsey against Ajax at Le Page Park in Cheltenham almost forty years ago.

He was just playing a game of footy back then.

Addiction almost killed AFL star Rod Owen, but he was hiding the agony of abuse

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Geez, what a horrendous read. A bit like the story of Robbie Muir that was in the papers recently. I feel sorry for any talented young footballer zoned to St Kilda through those years. What a basket case of a club. 

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1 hour ago, Rab D Nesbitt said:

Geez, what a horrendous read. A bit like the story of Robbie Muir that was in the papers recently. I feel sorry for any talented young footballer zoned to St Kilda through those years. What a basket case of a club. 

Wasn't just the Saints

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Just another example of why that Royal Commission was required.  The duty of care that young people like Owen deserved was nowhere to be seen in schools, sports clubs or basically any institution.  That he survived at all is a credit to his resilience and his strength of character. He was an amazing talent and I was truly excited by what he showed us in the early part of 1991.All I thought about then was his footy; he obviously had so much more on his mind.  Good luck to him and well done to those who have provided him with ongoing support.

Edited by Swooper1987
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So very brave of Rod to tell his story.

My Year 8 coordinator at High School is serving 40 odd years for molesting over 50 boys. Our local priest in our very small town will die in jail for abusing over 65 kids. As a kid I knew something wasn’t right, I just didn’t know the scale and audacity of it.

Don’t raise your kids to be compliant. Raise them to be aware, and to have the confidence to know they can tell you anything. Watch them like a hawk. If something doesn’t seem right, it might not be. 

And to those families, and individuals, impacted by these crimes thank you for telling your stories. The courage it takes is truly heroic. You’ve helped make our society a much safer, and more just, place. 

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These pieces by Russel Jackson are top notch and prove there is a place in the world for a long read, not just shallow, sensationalism that we're too often served up nowadays ...

Reading Owen's story it is hard not to feel empathy for his victims. As much as he has now turned his life around, the trail of damage he left was extraordinary. I saw that first hand at a suburban club where, as a spectator, he started an all in brawl in the crowd that ended in multiple ambulances arriving.

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19 minutes ago, dee-tox said:

These pieces by Russel Jackson are top notch and prove there is a place in the world for a long read, not just shallow, sensationalism that we're too often served up nowadays ...

Reading Owen's story it is hard not to feel empathy for his victims. As much as he has now turned his life around, the trail of damage he left was extraordinary. I saw that first hand at a suburban club where, as a spectator, he started an all in brawl in the crowd that ended in multiple ambulances arriving.

The trail of destruction sits firmly with the filthy, disgusting abusers and those cowards who allowed this to all continue unabated for generations. 
While the acts of the abused are what are highlighted it was the acts done to them that have caused hundreds if not thousands of people to be swept into the vortex of destruction. Along with millions of $$ being tied up in police, mental health facilities and prisons. 

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I wonder how long until we read a story like this about Liam Jurrah, whose alcoholism controls him and whose family have pretty much given up on him. I have contacted and spoken to the AFLPA to try get him help but never heard back from them, the impression I got was that they have done enough in the past...

 

Sadly, with Liam’s dad having recently passed away, I suspect things will get worse for him, tragic really as his community would benefit enormously if he could get himself sober and be the leader that he should be.

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I met Rod a few times in 1991 in the company of George Simon and his son Andy mentioned in the article as the people who “adopted” him as family during his short stay at the Melbourne Football Club. I think George headed up the club’s coterie in those days. They were regulars at the  Chinese restaurant below my office and they took Rod there a few times when he was burning it up on the field with the Demons. Needless to say the conversation was pretty upbeat and enjoyable. 

It was a time when people rarely spoke openly about personal issues and things like paedophilia or alcoholism or the possible connection between the two weren’t even considered in blokey conversation. How different, Rod’s life might have turned out if only ...

“Rod's housemate gave a statement to police (about Ray’s paedophilia), prevailing upon Rod to give one too. But fearful of living in a world in which everyone knew what had happened to him, Rod wouldn't unburden himself of 23 years of anguish.”

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Rod was fantastic for us that year and if only he had remained fit for the entire season? Perhaps he might have overcome the difficulties of his youth at a new club and in a more caring environment. 

It was also a case of one door opens because if my memory serves me well, his injury and departure from the team paved the way for the debut of Allen Jakovich.

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4 hours ago, Whispering_Jack said:

I first saw him in 1982 when he was starring for the St Francis junior football team in a Chelsea District Junior Football League match. Rod Owen was just 15 and already built like a man. A year later, he was playing for St. Kilda. A year after that, he was already an alcoholic and a drug addict. The troubled young footballer suffered injuries and managed only 60 games in a chequered career of eight years with the Saints before he was traded to Melbourne in 1991. He was spectacular in his brief stint at the Demons but managed only nine games (and two five goal hauls) before he was traded again  — this time to the Brisbane Bears.

This painful story is a long and harrowing read that details the journey of a young man who appeared to have the sporting world at his feet but who never achieved the dream of sporting heroism and instead, endured the darkness of addiction, prison and a long journey towards rehabilitation.

None of this was imaginable to me when I first saw the young Rod Owen wearing the green and white guernsey against Ajax at Le Page Park in Cheltenham almost forty years ago.

He was just playing a game of footy back then.

Addiction almost killed AFL star Rod Owen, but he was hiding the agony of abuse

The highlight of this story for me is A: the Child abuse he suffered and B: the advice he was supposedly given by Ian Stewart and the St KIlda Board to just sign your life away, don't worry about school.  This was advice reportedly given to a sixteen year old kid whose father had just died. 

I find the responses on this page which highlight how good he was at Melbourne a bit annoying because they miss the point about how damaged the poor kid was. 

It all reeks of  deep Tragedy, and shows us how thin the veneer of our so-called Civilisation in our society really is. Yes, there will be people on this site who will highlight his lack of 'responsibility', but what would a sixteen year old being, who was seduced by fame and mates to 'live it up' , know about 'responsibility'?

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36 minutes ago, dieter said:

The highlight of this story for me is A: the Child abuse he suffered and B: the advice he was supposedly given by Ian Stewart and the St KIlda Board to just sign your life away, don't worry about school.  This was advice reportedly given to a sixteen year old kid whose father had just died. 

I find the responses on this page which highlight how good he was at Melbourne a bit annoying because they miss the point about how damaged the poor kid was. 

It all reeks of  deep Tragedy, and shows us how thin the veneer of so-called Civilisation in our society really is. Yes, there will be people on this site who will highlight his lack of 'responsibility', but what would a sixteen year old being, who was seduced by fame and mates to 'live it up' , know about 'responsibility'?

 

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Had forgotten about him.His pic brought back memories .Great talent but couldnt build career.

Surprised people have so much empathy for Rob Muir. He used to go absolutely ballistic at the umpires not  just players.

Remember one incident at Moorabbin with an umpire whos name i cant recall ,Muir went nuts and was throwing his arms around like cartwheels. Players didnt know what to make of him.

 

 

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Rocket was an absolute gun and I knew about his off-field behaviour years ago but did not know about the perverts in his school and at Little league.

Explains much about him .

I've known a few people with that background of abuse that ended up ruining thier lives.

I don't blame Stewart for giving him a game at 16.

He needed a mentor off field and they failed to provide that .

St Kilda was a circus.

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Its certainly a sad story & well done to him for going into rehab & changing things. 

I feel however that the journalist has deliberately written it up to paint St Kilda as the evil bad guys.  I don't think any of the AFL clubs did player welfare particularly well.

By his own admission Owen let his family & friends down again & again and surely a 40 or 50 year old has to stand up & take responsibility at some stage.

Anyhow congratulations Rod on getting yourself sorted.

 

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6 minutes ago, Cranky Franky said:

Its certainly a sad story & well done to him for going into rehab & changing things. 

I feel however that the journalist has deliberately written it up to paint St Kilda as the evil bad guys.  I don't think any of the AFL clubs did player welfare particularly well.

By his own admission Owen let his family & friends down again & again and surely a 40 or 50 year old has to stand up & take responsibility at some stage.

Anyhow congratulations Rod on getting yourself sorted.

 

You make it sound so easy cranky franky...ever heard of there but for the grace etc? Were you ever molested? I wasn't, but I have enough empathy to see how difficult it would be to walk in the shoes Rod Owen was given.

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