By DAVID NAGEL
REIGNING premier Beaconsfield has sent shockwaves through the ranks of the South East Football League with the signing of former Hawthorn key-forward Beau Dowler for the remainder of the 2015 season.
The 27-year-old, who went pick six behind Marc Murphy, Dale Thomas, Xavier Ellis, Josh Kennedy and Scott Pendlebury in the highly-touted 2005 AFL draft, put pen to paper at 3pm on Sunday after a tour of the Holm Park Road facilities.
He trained with the Eagles for the first time on Tuesday and will make his debut in Saturday’s grand-final rematch against Cranbourne at Casey Fields.
The versatile 196cm star won three league best and fairest awards with Silverton in the South East Junior Football League before moving to Noble Park, and then to the Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup.
Dowler proved himself one of the finest young talents in the country, earning All-Australian selection after a dominant carnival for Vic Metro in its successful 2005 Under-18 National Championship campaign.
He debuted for Hawthorn in 2006, but played just 16 games in five years with injuries, and a lack of opportunity behind Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead, seeing him play most his time with the Hawks at Box Hill.
He was delisted by Hawthorn at the end of 2010, played in a premiership with Noble Park in 2011, before signing with Sandringham, and was announced captain of the Zebras for the 2012 season. He moves to Beaconsfield after three years with Sandringham and can’t wait to take up the challenge.
“It’s really exciting, for the last couple of days all I’ve wanted to do is get down to the club and meet everyone,” Dowler said.
“From what I’ve been told it seems like a great club, and coming from the VFL, hopefully I can pass on a bit of experience and learn a bit more about the league.
“I’m just excited about meeting new people and getting involved in the club’s culture and to start playing some good footy.
“The club won a premiership last year, so it seems like a pretty good fit.”
Dowler plays golf at Cardinia Beaconhills with former Beaconsfield player and current assistant-coach Andrew Williams. The two have been in discussion for some time about Dowler making the move but only recently has that discussion become serious. He also has connections with some current-day Eagles, having played at Box Hill with Shaun Pollard and a year at Noble Park with Tyson Mitchem.
He says the time is right for a step back from one of the elite levels of the game.
“Yeah, that’s probably how I see it; the VFL was getting pretty hard, pretty demanding as I got older and you find yourself running around with a lot young guys,” he said.
“At the same time, I loved every minute of it and everything that I got out of it.
“It’s probably coming towards the end of my career but I still feel like I’ve got plenty more to give.”
Dowler rates his AFL debut against Fremantle, at Subiaco in 2006, and his time playing for Australia against Ireland in 2004 as highlights of a career that he has no regrets with.
“Absolutely, it was a dream come true playing in the AFL and I’ve represented my country,” he said. “I had five great years at Hawthorn… have no regrets.”
Beaconsfield president Gary Valentine said the club was delighted to secure the services of a quality individual, both on and off the field.
“We’re absolutely rapt that Beau has decided to start a new chapter in his career with the Beaconsfield Football Club,” Valentine said.
“He has some friends here at Beaconsfield, and he wanted to come to us, which makes the whole thing even more exciting.
“We’re obviously looking forward to what he can bring to the team, but he’s also a terrific bloke and we’re confident he’ll fit in with what we’re trying to achieve here at Beaconsfield.”