Anthony Brawn 400 Game Milestone!

Posted: April 3, 2024

PHAFL Sydney AFL 400th Game Anthony Brawn

Demons Champion Anthony Brawn Plays his 400th Game this Weekend – a Remarkable and Unprecedented Achievement!

President’s Foreword

To have played 400 games of AFL is an achievement on its own and testament to the resilience, toughness and competitiveness of Anthony Brawn. To have played all 400 games at the one club is extraordinary. This goes to the loyalty and love of the club.

These traits are what people think of when they think of Anthony Brawn. He is a competitor and he loves the game. For me as president it is the example he sets, his support of the club, his words of experience, encouragement, wisdom and his development of others around him are most important.

To have seen Anthony’s efforts make this club a better place than when he first joined it makes him a real club legend that will be spoken of for years to come on his achievements and impact on this great club.

I am very thankful for his friendship, his support of all and his example. Congratulations Brawny on this enormous achievement – Todd Williams.

Anthony Brawn
Anthony Brawn

This weekend the Club celebrates an extraordinary milestone by one of the Club’s longest serving players. In the opening round of Season 2024, Anthony Brawn will play his 400th game for the Pennant Hills Demons. He becomes the first Penno player to reach this monumental milestone, a feat that is unlikely to be repeated.

In his 32nd season with the Demons, what is even more remarkable, despite him being twice the age of most of his team-mates and his opposition, he continues to play a fiercely competitive and skillful brand of footy. Brawny’s longevity and prolific goal-scoring ability are awe inspiring and he commands the greatest respect from his team-mates.

Brawny has an impressive list of achievements attained over the course of his long career. During his time as Club Captain (1999 – 2003) he led the Club to its inaugural first grade premiership in year 2000. He has twice won the Ern Holmes Trophy (Seniors Best & Fairest) in 1999 and 2004. He was twice named on the half forward flank in the AFL Sydney Team of the Year in 1994 and 1999.

Brawny is well known and respected across the whole of the AFL Sydney football community. He is known for his fierce competitiveness, his endurance and high-level skills. He is best renowned for his forward craft that he has honed to a fine art. He is a canny forward that knows when and where to lead, how to make space and is clean overhead and a dead-eye kick.

His instincts and experience still make him a formidable opponent even though he has lost some of his pace and agility. His 30 + years of experience make him a defender’s nightmare!

Brawny was the Club’s leading senior goalkicker on four occasions with a best of 60 goals in 1999. He was also the League’s leading reserve grade goalkicker in 2017 with 57 goals. As to his goalkicking totals, unfortunately there are holes in the records that make a precise calculation impossible. Suffice to say the records we do have, show that Brawny has kicked well over 700 goals (and possibly closer to 800 goals) in the AFL Sydney competition.

Over half of these were in the senior grade, 350+, and he’s also kicked 330 goals in reserve grade and 40 in lower grades. There is little doubt that he would be one of the League’s all-time leading goalkickers.

Although in recent years his output has been understandably a little less productive, whenever Brawny plays, rest assured you’ll hear the refrain, ‘’How many goals has Brawny kicked,” because he rarely ever misses out … he continues to be a goal-kicking machine!

Anthony Brawn
Anthony Brawn

Brawny was a latecomer to Australian Rules Football having first played soccer for much of his boyhood. Joining Westbrook Juniors in 1990, he played his first season in the Under 15s. A gifted athlete and talented young sportsman, it was not long before his natural affinity for our great game became apparent.

In 1991 he first played in the NSW U17 Teal Cup side as well as the U16 NSW Combined High Schools team and he was subsequently selected in the CHS All Australian Team which included future AFL players, the likes of Peter Vardy, Darren Gaspar, Daniel McPherson, Nigel Lappin and Peter Bell. He played his first game with Pennant Hills U19s as a 16 year old also in 1991. He played in the NSW Teal Cup side again in 1992. He was joint leading goalkicker at the 1991 CHS Carnival in Canberra. In his two seasons at Westbrook Juniors, young Anthony kicked 137 club goals.

Anthony played his first game of Senior club football for the Demons in Round 14 of 1992 against Western Suburbs at Wagener Oval. Brawny’s debut ended disappointingly with a 139 point drubbing by Wests. Playing in jumper #10 he managed to kick his first goal for the seniors on debut.

Our dearly beloved former Club Patron, Gus McKernan (RIP Gus), witnessed Brawny’s senior debut in 1992 and said that …

Wests were far too strong that afternoon and had several big goal scorers including Nathan Lenton with 8 goals. Season 1992 was a bleak one for the demons. With a 5/10 record plus two draws, incredibly both against East Sydney. The second of those draws was at Trumper Park in Round 17 and I can still picture Stefan Carey’s third and final goal, kicked from almost on the Glenmore Road to tie the scores. Coincidentally, it was also Stefan Carey’s senior debut with Hills and he went on to be a handy player with the Swans and later with Brisbane.

Between 1993 and 2005 Brawny played 13 consecutive seasons of first grade footy for the Demons. As a measure of his leadership quality, he was Club Captain for 5 consecutive years 1999 – 2003. For his prowess as a player, he won the Seniors Best & Fairest twice, in 1999 and 2004, and was also Pennant Hills Footballer of the Year in 1999. More recently, he was Reserve Grade Best & Fairest in 2013 and 2016. As Club Captain, Brawny has the distinction of leading the Club to its inaugural First Grade premiership in 2000. After finishing runners-up in 3 seasons out of the previous five, the victory in 2000 was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career as well as being a landmark achievement for the Club.

The 2000 premiership is obviously one of Brawny’s best memories. “Having the privilege of being the captain of the club’s first ever 1st Grade premiership is very humbling. Memories from the game - our first quarter (6 or 7 goal barrage), Barnaby dominating off half back, Chris Mahar’s 5 goals, the brawl in front of the benches, and jumping into Yardy’s arms at the final siren (we had played in losing GF’s in ‘95, ‘96 & ‘98).

A right foot kick, like his soccer days playing striker, Brawny has played most of his footy in the forwards. He was the senior team’s leading goal-kicker in 1997 (30 goals), 1999 (60), 2000 (33) and 2003 (38). His best haul in a match was 11 goals against Balmain at Drummoyne Oval in 1994. For a number of years now, he’s been the key forward for the Reserves. In 2017 he was the leading Division One goalkicker with 57 goals. He won his second premiership in 2018 winning the Premier Division Reserves Grand Final. He has recently dropped back to the third grade side, making way for a new generation of Demons.

In a career that spans more than a three decades, Brawny has only missed two seasons of footy, 2008 and 2011, when he took time out to help raise his children and to renovate his home. Now, at age 49, he will be at the vanguard of the Men’s Division Three 2024 campaign.

Anthony Brawn

Some more of Brawny’s recollections:

“Worst memory – was having to play 2 days after Barnaby’s stroke in 2005. We had been dominating the competition that year … We played North Shore at Gore Hill, lost convincingly and the season went down-hill from there.

Worst injury - broken ribs and punctured lung vs Wests at UNSW Oval in a make-up game mid-week. Happened in the first 15 seconds of the game. Lucky it was right next to the hospital. 

Stupidest thing I’ve done - was in 1996 (I think) at Ern Holmes Oval. During pre-game, I tried to do a bicycle kick at goal. Knocked myself out and hurt my AC joint. Played the game with my shoulder strapped and about 8 Panadols. Couldn’t lift my arm. Needless to say, coach (Barro) wasn’t too happy after the game.”

Anthony Brawn

From the day Anthony first pulled on a Pennant Hills jumper, he proved to be a talented footballer, but it is also his on and off-field leadership that make Anthony, not just an outstanding player, but also an outstanding Demons clubman. He has shared his incredible football career with his great mate, Jason Clarke, who says of Brawny:

“You cannot fault Brawny. Loyal, generous, trustworthy are words that would immediately come to mind; as a friend one couldn't ask for any better. As a leader on the football ground, he leads by his actions, not [so much] by his words, but when he does speak he is pointed, and people listen. After a few frothies, however, one could be forgiven for asking for some ear plugs.”

Brawny and Clarkey started High School together in 1986 “… a long, long time ago …” and they are still the firmest of friends. Clarkey is also a 300 game player who’s record of 361 has only been eclipsed by his great mate Brawny.

Clarkey says “… as a footballer Brawny’s strength lies with that perfect combination of raw talent mixed with a fierce competitive streak.

From former teammate Matt Gray “… Brawny is one of the best players to pull on the blue jumper with the red yoke. At his peak, Brawny was supremely skilled and coupled with strength and speed, he was equally dangerous with the ball in the air and on the ground. So many times he was able to turn a game with a mark, a bouncing run or a booming barrel from the centre square … to beat the Demons, the opposition needed to stop the man with #28 on his back and #38 on his shorts!

Another former teammate and great mate, Greg Hume, recalls that “… on Grand Final night in ’99 Brawny grabbed the microphone from the coaches who were celebrating the U19s flag and said that as a club we could no longer be satisfied with just lower grade success. He was rewarded with the First Grade flag in 2000.

Another former teammate and coach, Danny Ryan says that “… Anthony Brawn typifies the Penno spirit and lives the motto – ‘Every Heart Beats True’. His appetite and ability to do the hard work always stood Brawny in good stead, both in football and in life. … Brawny is a ‘straight-up’ man’s man, he does not suffer fools and is loyal to the core. … I have been lucky enough to witness him doing extraordinary things on the footy field.

Anthony Brawn
Anthony Brawn

Former junior and senior coach, Leo Browne, remembers Anthony as a “… a junior superstar even though he had taken up the game at a late age. He was one of very few players I coached over a 16 year period who could have played AFL at the highest level if it had been a priority for him!

Leo was coach of the Demons Under 17 team that beat Westbrook in the 1991 Grand Final. Anthony was playing with Westbrook and his great mate Jason Clarke was playing with Penno Juniors. Penno won 7.10-52 to 5.3-33.

Brawny’s not concerned about not knowing the exact number of goals he’s kicked. What’s most important to him, is that it has been 400 games just having fun!!

Congratulations Brawny on achieving this remarkable milestone. You have left an indelible mark upon the Pennant Hills Demons Football Club and are safely ensconced as one of the Club’s true Legends as player and as a leader. And, welcome to the Demons exclusive 400 Club!

Go Penno!

Career Highlights
Career Highlights