BY PETER ARGENT
Football has always been about family, but when you go into battle with your siblings it further adds to the aura of the contest.
In the Yorke Peninsula Football League round four match at Wallaroo Oval earlier this month, the three Rowntree siblings, George, Angus and Jack, played their first competitive game together.
The trio, who have a rich family history in the district, donned the Ardrossan Kangaroos blue and white in a clash with the Bulldogs.
The oldest, George, is now 32 and a sixth-generation farmer on the family land at Dowlingville, while
middle brother Angus, or ‘Gus’ as known to his mates, 30, runs carpentry business Signature Carpentry in Adelaide.
The youngest sibling, Jack, is 28 and a boiler maker at the Salt Works in Price and helps on the family farm during seeding and harvest.
Ardrossan and the Rowntree family celebrated this milestone match with a victory, enjoying a 23-point triumph, 17.9 (111) to 14.4 (88).
“It was good, after half time everyone played pretty well,” the laconic oldest brother, George said post match.
“I’ve been playing A grade since I’ve been 16. I had played two games with Gus before, but that was when Jack was pretty young.
“Jack has been playing A grade for the past seven or so years. Gus hadn’t played any footy across the past four years after the knee ‘recons’.
“(It was a) pretty special experience to play alongside each other, and we are a competitive bunch.”
In the contest, both George and Jack played across the half back line, while Gus – a 100-game SANFL player and runner up 2015 Magarey Medallist, was stationed in the centre.
The football genes also run back a few generations.
The boys’ father, Bill Rowntree, played at Ardrossan, predominantly as a key defender/ruck-rover, and first started in the Ardrossan colts in 1962.
“During my time at Ardrossan I was lucky enough to play in 14 grand finals across all grades, playing in nine premierships during a golden era of the club,” Bill said.
“At A grade level, I was involved in the Grundy Shield win, when we won successive titles in 1970, ’71 and ‘72.
“After losing the Grand Final of ‘73, we then went through the 1974 season undefeated. There was a period in the 1960s and 1970s when the club was consistently in Grand Finals for about 10 years in a row.
“It certainly was a very proud moment to see my three lads run out on the ground and play alongside each other.
“Personally, I did play a couple of games with my young brother, Andrew, who is about eight years my junior.
“My dad Doug Rowntree played his football for Price. And my grandfather, Kirk, was in the 1921 Petersville flag (team).”
There is also more football heritage in the extended Rowntree family, with their first cousin being AFL Hall of Famer from Port Victoria, ‘ER’ Rick Davies.
Like Gus Rowntree in 2015, Davies was runner up to Russell Ebert in the SANFL’s highest individual honour, the Magarey Medal, in 1974.
In round three of the Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association, Port Adelaide champion Justin Westhoff reunited with his brothers, Leigh and Matthew, for the first time in 17 years,
They played a single game together back in 2004, returning to Tanunda during a bye week at Central District.
While all three played SANFL league footy, the trio never played a game together in the Bulldogs red, white and blue.
Justin Westhoff’s return to BLG football was nothing less that triumphant. Getting top grade service from the Magpies’ class midfield, the AFL Life Member snaffled a competition-high nine-goal haul against a young Barossa District outfit.
It was a day of celebration for the Westhoff clan and the Tanunda community.
Interestingly, the eldest Westhoff lad, Leigh, also played A grade football in the BLG alongside his father, the legendary Danny “Rowdy” Westhoff back in 2001.
Another unique family story in BLG football this year, is the father and son combination of Willy and Jordan Serle at Gawler Central.
In the season opener at Willaston Oval against the Donnybrooks, the pair played their first game of A grade football together.
“I have Indigenous heritage through my mum’s side of the family,” 18-year-old Jordan explained.
“Dad is now 38 and you could say that he’s my football hero.
“I have a fair way to go to catch him as he has 1200 goals across country footy and kicked bags of over 100 in a season a few times.
“I played for Virginia last year, which was by first season of A grade football. To come across to Gawler Central and play alongside dad is a pretty special event.”