Billy Brownless is a former football player for AFL team Geelong Cats. He is also a much-loved radio and TV personality, appearing on shows such as; The Footy Show.
Billy Brownless was born and raised in Jerilderie, a rural town in New South Wales. He first played football for his local team, the Jerilderie Football Club. He boarded for three years in Kilmore, Victoria, at Assumption College, one of Australia’s most renowned “football nurseries”. In 1984, his final year at the school, Brownless kicked 155 goals for the school team.
Geelong asked Brownless to come and train, but instead he chose to return home to Jerilderie and play a season of senior football. During the 1985 season, he kicked 148 goals for the Jerilderie senior team while working as a farmhand. Jerilderie made it to the grand final but lost. Brownless kicked six of the team’s nine goals despite having injured an ankle in the semi-final.
Brownless moved to Geelong in time for the 1986 VFL season and began working as a groundsman at Kardinia Park. He said that playing for Geelong was a natural progression for him because of the town’s rural atmosphere,
“It’s really like a big country town and the club’s a lot like a country club. You’re all behind one another and you’re all pretty close. It’s a good feeling.”
Brownless made his senior VFL debut in 1986 and quickly made a name for himself as a strong full-forward. He won the Geelong Cats’ ‘Best First Year Player Award’ that year. He went on to play 198 games and kick 441 goals. Putting him 5th in Geelong’s ‘All-time Goalkicking’ list.
One of Brownless’ fondest memories was kicking a goal after the siren against Footscray in their 1994 qualifying final. With Geelong trailing by one point, he marked the ball within scoring range with just seconds left and kicked a goal. Sending Geelong through to the next stage of the finals. While the Cats eventually made it to the grand final, they lost that match. Brownless played in four losing grand final teams with Geelong. He went onto retire in 1997 at age 30, holding the record for most goals in a game at the Gabba, with 11.
State of Origin
Billy first played State of Origin in 1988 for New South Wales. Playing in the State of Origin Carnival that year, he kicked three goals in the tournament. Two in the first against South Australia and one in the second against WA. In 1993 he again played in the State of Origin Carnival, being selected for NSW/ACT against Victoria. With Wayne Carey and John Longmire in the side, Billy played at centre half back. In 1995 he kicked five goals and was named in the ‘Best Players for The Allies,’ in a win over Western Australia.
Life After Football
When Brownless retired from football he moved into the media, appearing regularly on The Footy Show. On The Footy Show he appeared in “The House of Bulger” segment as the family’s matriarch Joybell Bulger.
He joined 95.5 K-Rock in Geelong as a sales representative. On their “Big Mattress” breakfast show, he co-hosted a sport/comedy segment called “On The Bench” with 2 other retired AFL players, twice a week. A long list of Geelong players were included in “On The Bench” as special guests including Barry Stoneham, Tim McGrath and Paul Couch.
In 1992 he became the inaugural winner of the Mirrool Silo Kick in the Riverina, kicking an Aussie Rules football 32 metres plus over the Mirrool Silos.
In 2005 Billy Brownless co-hosted Morning Glory, a weekday breakfast show on Melbourne Radio. Finishing his 5-day a week stint in November 2008, he went on to appear on ‘Before the Bounce,’ a weekly football show on Foxtel alongside Jason Dunstall and Danny Frawley until the end of the 2008 AFL season.
In May 2008, Brownless was added as a regular on the Thursday night AFL Footy Show to replace an incapacitated Sam Newman, but was relegated to guest panelist upon Newman’s return. Since 2009 Brownless has once again became a regular alongside Shane Crawford.