Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 15 - 26 June 2016 - Adrian Vowles
Where did you grow up?
Country town of Cunnamulla some Charleville
What was your childhood like ?
I grew up on a property, sheep, cattle, riding horses, shooting, it was a great up bringing.
Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?
Yes, in the 80s I collected all of the Sydney and Brisbane competition ones, bubble gum cards. Unfortunately my mum threw them away, I am gutted. I had every poster on the wall, collected every Big League
What was your first football experience?
Playing for the Cunnamulla Rams when I was 8, I wasn't that interested actually. My first came I made a break, hurdled the fullback and scored under the posts and from that moment I loved it. I got in trouble off the old man for hurdling, I could have been hurt, 2,300 acre property there was lots of work to do and I wouldn't be able to do much if I was hurt. On a property that size you are pretty active, always doing something. In those days we played on the full field with no shoes and a leather football. Kick at goals were with the old toe poke method.
Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?
Wally Lewis. I was a centre as a kid so I idolised Mick Cronin and Steve Rogers as well.
Your first time in the top grade?
It was against Canterbury in 1993 in the Tooheys Challenge. I was marking Jarrod McCracken, I was 86kg, I put a good shot on him. Mal Meninga, McGaw were other players of the day who I came up against in my first year.
What was the culture like at the Seagulls with Wally Lewis as Coach?
Wally was the best player but not the best coach, he struggled to get the best of his players. Personally I wanted to play good for him because he was my idol. I nearly got to play with him against the touring Great Britain side. I received a call up to play against Great Britain after working 3/4 of the day as a cabinet maker, unfortunately Lewis cancelled playing at late notice, was at work 3/4 of the day as a cabin maker. I came up against Lee Crooks and John Devereux. I would have loved to of played outside of Wally Lewis. I was in Reserve Grade and sat on the bench for about 20 games times before getting a run in First Grade.
What is it like playing for the Cowboys 95?
It was great, we would get 25,000 to a game regularly and we only won two games that year. I played in the first game against Canterbury and I was sent off. It was for a high shot on Matt Ryan, my shoulder hit him and it happened in the first 5 minutes. I had never even been sin binned in my career before that. The first week all of the players were laying the turf on the hill to get the ground ready for the game. I guarantee you wouldn't get the players of today to do that.
Can you express the feelings of pre game state of origin and once you were on the field? 1994
I was a late inclusion because Steve Renouf was injured and I received a phone call advising that I was on standby, it was the best feeling. In 1980 I listened to the first State of Origin on the wireless and I said to myself then that I wanted to play Origin one day, so I got my dream, it came true. Mal Meninga was captain and in the dressing room Alfie Langer was vomiting. I was thinking if he's that nervous how should I be feeling, but it turns out he vomited before each game. The game itself was a lot faster and tougher, it felt great to be out there in front of 87,000 people at the MCG.
How was your experiences playing in England, you were there for many years with a few clubs?
I was only going over for 1 year and coming back, 1 became 2 then turned into 7 years. They were the best times of my footballing life. They are very passionate people over there.
Greatest memories of playing rugby league?
The mateship is massive, all over the world, good networking.
Grand Finals in the bush as a kid. Playing for Charleville we won the grand final in the Under 17's and we drank for 2 weeks.
Playing in the State of Origin.
I miss playing every day, miss going to training, joking and laughing etc.
Who was your most respected rival?
Mal Meninga, he was a legend in my eyes. Andrew Ettingshausen and Allan Langer as well.
Who was the best team you played against?
Brisbane Broncos, they had a star studded side.
When did you know it was time to give the game away?
In 2006 was just playing local comp with Burleigh Bears after retuning back from England.
What followed after football?
I was the CEO at the Burleigh Bears. I also worked at Superannuation company. I do a bit of commentary for cChannel 9 for QLD Cup, all of these games are broadcast in PNG. I was Assistant Coach of the QLD side and the coach of the Jilaroos. It is so good to coach them, we went over the Auckland Nines and the All Stars as a curtain raiser for the main one.
How has the game changed since your playing days?
They are bigger, stronger and faster now. They don't throw the ball around like they used to. We have got to keep the little guys in the game. Loved the 80's with players such as Horrie Hastings, Craig Coleman, Phil Blake, Steve Mortimer, Peter Sterling.
Did you keep a scrap book?
I've got a few things, bit of a hoarder.
Burleigh, Pigs and Pint
Did you collect your own footy cards?
Yes, none in England.