By Nicholas Galea
Football seemed a natural pathway for Tye Browning as a child. His father was heavily involved in the sport being a coach at Greenvale and Maribyrnong Park in the Essendon District Football League (EDFL) while his mother was always passionate about the AFL, if not more than his father.
Despite being surrounded by the sport, Browning wasn’t too interested in playing the game at first.
‘When I got first into Auskick I was like a scared little boy and didn’t really want to join in much of the activities but dad made me go there,’ he said.
After finishing Auskick, Browning started playing for the Jets as an eight year old in the Under 10s and remained with the club until his bottom-age Under 14s season when he then decided to continue his football with the Craigieburn Football Club.
‘Growing up dad was heavily involved at Greenvale so I was always going to start off there and from then on I didn’t really know any different,’ Browning said.
‘I started playing as soon as I could when I was eight and played in the Under 10s and stayed at Greenvale until I was bottom age under 14s.’
‘When I was turning 14 in high school I started becoming really close with my friends.’
‘Greenvale weren’t looking like they were going to play in Division One at the time, so I wanted to move to Craigieburn to play in Division One with my mates in the Under 14s.’
‘Winning the flag was unreal, especially for me as I played most of the year in the Under 16s team but once my season finished I started training with the seniors,’ Browning said.
‘I trained well and made a good impression on the coach, all the boys there were so eager to win a premiership, we had a very strong side and we were just so keen to win a flag.’
After his success with Craigieburn in the EDFL, in 2016 Browning made the Calder Cannons Barry Davis and Vic Metro Squads and from there his football journey took him to the TAC Cup where he represented the Calder Cannons.
‘I made the Calder Cannons Barry Davis Squad which is the Under 16s squad and they play three games for you to try and make the Under 16s Vic Metro squad,’ he said.
‘I played okay in those three games and was fortunate enough to make the Under 16s Vic Metro team.’
‘I had a pretty average carnival but later that year I started training with the Calder Cannons summer training squad for the Under 18s and was put on the list.’
‘In 2017 I played every game except one as a Bottom Ager which I was pretty happy about and in 2018 I played every game except two.’
In his bottom and top age years at the Cannons, Browning was given the guernsey of number 27, which is an extremely important and symbolic to the club.
‘It was a big honour for me to wear that number when I was with the Cannons,’ Browning said.
‘The number 27 was worn by Cameron Baird who won a number of medals at the club [between 1996 and 1999] and passed away while at war for Australia in 2013.’
‘It was huge for me to wear that number because it means so much to the club, I just tried to do him proud and this year I passed it down to Ned Gentile.’
‘It isn’t usually given to the best player but to someone who shows the same values that Cameron displayed when he was at war.’
Browning too was also the recipient of the 2018 Coaches Award at the Cannons and was simply proud to have earned the respect of his fellow teammates and coaches.
‘It was huge; it shows that other people recognise that I’ve played my role for the team and show values that a coach asks for,’ Browning said.
‘If the coach is proud and happy then that means there is nothing more you can do.’
‘I had heaps of time for Ross Smith [my coach], since he first arrived at the club we had a little bit of a bond…. I was spewing when he left but you can’t do much about that.’
When his time at the Cannons came to an end in the middle of 2019, Browning was contacted by Seb Spagnuolo, the General Manager at Coburg and was added to the list for the remainder of the VFL season.
‘I’ve settled in really well, the first few nights were hard going from a club like Calder where I knew everyone to one where I knew very few people,’ he said.
‘At the start I was just trying to get to know players and how they play and just settle into the Club.
‘Someone who has taken me under their wing has to be Mitch “Pods” Podhajski, he has shown me the ropes around the Club and is a very good leader.’
‘Hopefully I finish off the year strongly and go and have a big preseason.’
After hard work on the training track Browning was selected to make his VFL debut against North Melbourne in round 16 and was given his Coburg guernsey by Podhajski before the game.
‘It was a big game for us but unfortunately we couldn’t get the job done,’ Browning said.
‘It was a very good experience for me playing against a team that is aligned with an AFL club.
‘I got to line up on one of my mates, Curtis Taylor who ended up being drafted last year and then also one of my younger mates from when I played in the Under 15s team Joel Crocker as well.
‘It was good to play against those two boys but I was spewing we didn’t get the win.’
Browning acquitted himself well on VFL debut gathering 12 possessions, six marks and kicked his maiden goal.
Rotating his time between the midfield and in the back six in his four games to date, Browning describes himself as someone who is skilful and is willing to take the game on.
‘As a kid I used to love watching Chris Judd when he was at West Coast but someone I model my game on is probably Isaac Smith, his run and metres gained are unreal.’
‘If I could defend like Scott Thompson from North Melbourne, he’s a bit of a pest but he’s only worried about defending first which helps the team succeed.’
‘At Coburg it’d be someone like “Rigga”, he’s skilful, tries to take the game on, has a good leg on him and defends first.’
‘He’s also got good on-field leadership which helps as well.’
When it comes to life outside of football, Browning spends his time as a first year apprentice plumber having recently started a new job with Richstone Group last Tuesday.
‘I was doing cabinet making but I left that and now work in commercial plumbing in the city at Collins Street.’
‘I’ve started from scratch; I’ve had no knowledge of plumbing so I was lucky enough I was able to get an apprenticeship with Richstone Group which is a really good company.’
‘They are really supportive; they like to keep in touch with what time I start training and what nights I train…. They are really understanding.’
‘Hopefully I complete my four year apprenticeship and become a qualified plumber.’
‘It’s been a very good start and I’m enjoying it… I’m just looking to keep on improving and learn so much.’
Like many of his Coburg teammates, Browning finds the beach the perfect place to relax and just enjoy time away.
‘In the summer time I like getting down to the beach and relax, it’s very calm and carefree going to the beach,’ he said.
‘I love going down to the beaches near Torquay and Lorne, I reckon they’re very nice beaches …. I try and surf but I’m no good at it.’
‘Sometimes I go for a day trip if I’m up for it, have an early wake up and spend the day there.’
‘Hanging around with my mates is also good, we just go around to each other’s houses and keep each other company or just go out for dinner.’
‘Between work, football, my girlfriend Georgina and my family there’s not really much time for anything else.’
With football being a huge part of his life it makes sense that the biggest influence on Browning’s career has come from someone who has been there from the very start.
‘The biggest influence on me would [probably] have to be my dad, he watches every game of footy and in my junior days he used to have a long conversation after the game telling me what I needed to improve on,’ he said.
‘He’s always made me strive to get better and to make him and my family proud is great.’
Travel isn’t something that Browning has done on a regular basis but it is something he looks to pursue in the future.
‘I’d love to go to the United States when I’m a bit older but in January I’m going on a cruise to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and New Zealand,’ he said.
‘I’ve been to Thailand with my family in 2013 staying in Phuket but other than that I haven’t really been anywhere else so I’m looking forward to the cruise in January, I’m keen as for it.’
Browning describes himself as a “kind-hearted and caring guy” who will always be there for his family and his teammates. He is also dedicated in constantly finding ways to improve his football.
‘I think I’ve got a strong work ethic…. You’re only going to get out what you put in and I’m always striving to get better.’