Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
John Dowling

Known as
John Dowling

8 April 1909

10 January 1967 (aged 57)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 71d
Last game: 24y 147d

Height and weight
Height: 174 cm
Weight: 75 kg

Senior clubs
North Melbourne; Footscray; Brunswick

Jumper numbers
North Melbourne: 15, 3, 13, 25
Footscray: 18, 26

Recruited from
North Melbourne (1932); Footscray (1933)

John Dowling

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
North MelbourneV/AFL1927-193149791.616%18.005.000

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 3,322nd player to appear, 3,493rd most games played, 987th most goals kickedNorth Melbourne: 56th player to appear, 283rd most games played, 87th most goals kickedFootscray: 153rd player to appear, 521st most games played, 199th most goals kicked

After 49 games with North Melbourne between 1927 and 1931, and 19 for Footscray in 1932- 3, John Dowling joined Brunswick midway through the 1933 season in time to help the club re-emerge as a VFA power for the first time in more than a decade. Fast, skilful, and deadly near goal, Dowling won the VFA Medal in his first complete season with the Magpies, and was runner-up in the Recorder Cup to Danny Warr of Preston. The following year he was a joint winner of the VFA Medal with Fred Brooks of Williamstown, after which, presumably because he began to be surrounded by so many other fine players, the votes dried up somewhat, but Brunswick's performances as a team began to improve immeasurably. After winning the minor premiership in 1936, the side lost both finals matches to end up a disappointing third. Nevertheless, it was the senior side's first finals involvement for seven years, and the following year it made amends to some extent by reaching the Grand Final. However, after seeming to be in control for much of the match, opponents Prahran hit back strongly in the dying moments, and Brunswick finally fell agonisingly short by two points.

The 1938 Grand Final against Brighton was arguably John Dowling's, and maybe even Brunswick's, finest hour. To use modern parlance, Dowling 'roved the socks off the opposition', creating numerous opportunities for his forwards in a best afield display. By quarter time the game was virtually over as the Magpies had amassed a record opening term tally for a Grand Final of 8.3, five goals more than their opponents. Brunswick's final score of 19.17 (131) was also a VFA Grand Final record.

In 1939 Brunswick again made the Grand Final, but despite another fine display from Dowling went down to Williamstown by nine points.

John Dowling eventually retired seven rounds into the 1941 season with 183 VFA games to his credit.

Author - John Devaney


Full Points Footy Publications


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.