Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Born in Kogarah New South Wales on the fourth of April 1913, David Michael Brown would grow up to be one of the greatest Rugby League players of his generation, although, he would have to overcome myriad of challenges to even make his first-grade debut.
As a toddler, Brown would lose his thumb in a lawn mowing accident, which was followed by a badly dislocated arm in the schoolyard that resulted in him losing feeling in two fingers, and at 18-years-old he would lose all of his body hair as a result of an illness.
A year earlier in 1930, Brown would make his first-grade debut for Eastern Suburbs at just 17-years-old after impressing in the club’s lower grade.
In 1931, the centre would make his New South Wales debut, playing in three interstate matches against Queensland.
Despite still being a teenager and having only played two seasons for the club, Brown was named the Eastern Suburbs captain heading into the 1932 season and would go on his first Kangaroo tour at the end of 1933.
Brown would lead Easts to a minor premiership and runners-up place in 1934, before leading the tri-colours to their first premiership since 1923 in 1935. This was the season where Brown set the record for most points in a season with 244 points in 15 games, a record yet to be beat.
He would also score 45 points in one game against Canterbury-Bankstown by scoring five tries and kicking a record 15 goals.
Following his career-defining season of 1935, Brown was named the Australian captain for an end of season Test Series against New Zealand.
In 1936, Brown led Eastern Suburbs to back-to-back premierships; however, this time they would go through the season undefeated.
A move over to Warrington in the United Kingdom awaited Brown in 1937, where the 24-year-old would have an immediate impact by scoring a double in the club’s Lancashire County Cup Final victory over Barrow.
Brown would play 93 games for Warrington and score 326 points for the club.
During 1939, Brown would become disillusioned by the game in England as he bought out the final year of his contract to return to Australia and Eastern Suburbs.
When 1940 rolled around, Brown was bestowed the captain-coach role by Eastern Suburbs, as he led his side to yet another premiership triumph, and the following year would announce his immediate retirement after a Grand Final loss to St.George.
The former Australian representative would remain an influential part of the game, becoming the New South Wales Rugby Football League’s Liaison Officer, whose role it was to promote the game schools, which can be seen as a precursor to the NRL Community initiative many ex-players are a part of today.
Overall, Brown would win three premierships in 264 first grade games, represent New South Wales 19 times and Australia on nine occasions.
Fittingly dubbed the “Bradman of League”, Brown would also join both the Australian and International Hall of Fame in 2003, and became Immortal in 2018.
David Michael Brown, unfortunately, passed away in 1974, but his legacy lives on in every Rugby League player who has laced up a pair of boots since.