Blues Warrior reaches 200 games

University Blues has an extraordinary turnover of players. Every year huge numbers of students enrol and are drawn toward the picturesque oval. This is a double-edged sword for the club. It is a boon for recruiting but university students tend to travel or move when they complete their degree meaning many players only remain at the club for a short while. An ex-player who returns after two or three years’ absence could be excused for thinking it was stable-mate Blacks they were watching, such would be the lack of familiar faces. Some players buck this trend, none more so than veteran Andrew Lowcock who this weekend notches up his 200th senior game. Lowcock has a familiar story but with a significant difference. He stayed.

Former club captain and self-declared Uni Blues ‘legend’, Tom Wilcox credits himself with having recruited Lowcock. Ace had moved down from Tallangatta to study Commerce and reside at Ormond College. College-mate Wilcox remembers him as ‘shy and impressionable’, in stark contrast to the nickname he gave himself. Wilcox recalled “DC (George de Crespigny) and I double-teamed him all O-week and by the end of it we had him at Blues’ training”. The Wilcox family also put him up over summer while Lowcock was working as a ‘stop/go man’ for the local council. “I do remember how he baffled me with his dual qualities of country shyness and indomitable confidence/ego” Wilcox said, “but he was the perfect guest at mealtimes, I think my mother Cheryl still holds a torch for him”.

Ace came down to Blues with a couple of college mates, in particular Alex Suvoltos and Angus Brown. But while the other boys toiled away in the Under 19s, Lowcock set his sights on the seniors. Dual best and fairest, Joe Sturrock recalled Lowcock as being particularly confident of his place, despite his tender years. True to his own expectations, Ace debuted in the seniors in round one. After a decent loss, then-coach Grant Williams was forced to drop Ace to the Under 19s so that “he could get his hands on the ball”. He played one game in the Unders and that remains the only occasion on which Lowcock has represented the Blues in anything but the seniors. A remarkable effort. In round three, Lowcock was in the best players for the ones. The first of many times.

Lowcock was brought up just outside Tallangatta by his parents Geoff and Jane. Geoff, along with being a former school principal, coached Mitta United to back-to-back flags in the early ’90s. A young Lowcock played for the ‘Mountain Men’ and is immensely proud of the club who have a history of winning and being all but invincible at their home ground in Mitta. Mitta United, who are also the Blues, have produced one other Uni Blues recruit of recent times in Dave Paton. Geoff and Andrew have got more than one thing in common, but the first thing that you notice when meeting them is the size of their hands. Both Lowcock men have big, powerful paws that they have used to great effect on the football field. Another thing they have in common is a nonsense-free approach to football that puts a premium on hitting contests hard. They share this with Paton, which makes one wonder about the collective approach of the Mountain Men of Mitta United.

Gillon McLachlan, who played with Lowcock in 1999 and also captained him, remembers his ‘massive mits’ and noted that the young man wasn’t short of confidence. McLachlan remembered this week “who would call themselves Ace – and he didn’t even seem embarrassed by it”. Aggression at the contest and player was also recalled by McLachlan. He mentioned Lowcock cleaning up a St Bernard’s opponent in front of their cheer squad during a final, “a lovely, deliberate and brutal act that showcased the grunt in him”.

With Lowcock’s obvious ability, confidence and work ethic, he was earmarked as a possible AFL draftee. He had played a couple of seasons at the Murray Bushrangers in the AFL under 18 competition where he held the record for the most games played. Then in 2002, after a couple of good seasons at the Blues, he was supplementary listed by North Melbourne, the side he continues to barrack for. Back then, the reserves for North Melbourne operated as Murray Kangaroos and played some of their home games at Lavington just outside of Albury. It was a pre-requisite that players had to be listed in the local league, the Ovens and Murray Football league, so Lowcock signed with Wodonga Raiders. Lowcock steadily improved in the VFL at the Kangaroos and at one stage led the club goal kicking. There was talk of being upgraded to a rookie-listed player at the end of the season before injury struck. Ace was playing his one and only game for the Raiders when the Murray Kangaroos had the bye. Not long into the game, he broke his leg leaving his AFL hopes in tatters.

Although the club was disappointed that Lowcock broke his leg, the injury proved to be a windfall for University Blues. The Rooster returned to the club in 2003 and has been a regular fixture since. His list of achievements are phenomenal. He was a premiership player in 2004. He has represented the VAFA on nine occasions including being named as a vice captain. He was captain of the University Blues from 2007-2010. He has been a regular fixture at the top of Best & Fairest calculations and leading goalkickers at the Blues. When a VAFA administrator named his team of the decade to 2010, Ace was selected along with team-mate Mark Paterson. Clearly, Andrew Lowcock has been an outstanding player and leader at University Blues.

A redeeming feature of Lowcock is his loyalty. Despite overtures from rural and suburban clubs, Ace has remained an amateur player at Blues. On one particular occasion, big-spending club Barooga came calling. They offered him an amount of money, which he refused. They immediately upped the offer, which he refused. They again increased the offer to a substantial sum of money, but Ace refused. His loyalty extends into his personal life. He still counts Suvoltos and Brown as two of his best friends since meeting them at college 13 years ago. He remains firm friends with numerous footballers who have come through the club in his time. Lowcock took a big step over the Easter weekend, proposing to his long-time girlfriend, Elisha, whilst on a holiday in Hong Kong. The happy couple live together in Richmond and have got a busy and exciting time ahead as they plan for their wedding.

Lowcock continues to represent University Blues with distinction. He handed the captaincy reigns over to Matt Torney this year and is enjoying his time as a veteran. He continues to hit the contest hard, using his body as a battering ram, and is increasingly flying for spectacular marks. He is a threat wherever he plays, and opposition supporters love to sledge him because they are worried about his impact on games. 200 games is a wonderful achievement at any club, and particularly so at Blues. To do it, a player would have to be of excellent ability, be incredibly loyal, have an amazing will to succeed, and be of a very stable temperament. Obviously, Andrew ‘Ace’ Lowcock possesses all of these.

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