3 August 1902
Place of birth
Broken Hill, NSW (2880)
26 September 1942 (aged 40)
West Broken Hill (1924)
State of origin
Hall of fame
South Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2002)
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Over the years, Broken Hill has produced significantly more than its fair share of elite footballers, but few as concertedly successful as Jack Owens. In 177 games for Glenelg between 1924 and 1935, Owens kicked 827 goals, a remarkable achievement rendered all the more so by virtue of the fact that, for the vast majority of that period, Glenelg was the weakest club in the competition. Indeed, the almost perversely anomalous 1934 premiership apart, the Bays were never remotely in contention for finals participation, much less premiership honours, in any of Jack Owens’ 12 league seasons.
Like another great sharpshooter of the inter-war period, George Doig, Owens was a left footer who favoured the screw punt when lining up for goals. Observers who saw him play contend that he was capable of making the ball swerve sharply in the air, enabling him to kick goals from seemingly impossible angles, an ability which doubtless increased his strike rate significantly.
Owens had good ground skills, often beating two or three opponents when the ball hit the turf, and he marked strongly, particularly out in the open after a fast lead. He played nine times for South Australia, kicking 26 goals, and was state captain in 1933 and 1934. He skippered the Bays to their first senior premiership in 1934, and topped the League goal kicking list twice, on both occasions while playing for teams that finished second last.
Had he played for a stronger club there is little doubt that Jack Owens’ name might well have ended up being mentioned in the same breath as ‘immortal’ goalsneaks like Coleman, Coventry, Dunstall, Doig, Farmer, Lockett, Naylor, Pratt, Robertson et al. Such ‘immortality’ tends to be accorded those who combine great ability with ground-breaking achievement, and while the prodigious nature of his talent cannot be doubted, the fact that he was only seldom able to perform at the absolute forefront of the game undoubtedly stymied his potential.
Author - John Devaney