BDAFL Appoint Rowan Bilkey as Representative Coach

Black Diamond AFL have appointed Rowan Bilkey as the Coach of the Men’s Representative team that will play AFL Canberra at Manuka Oval, Canberra on May 19. Sean McGrath and Marty Reiman have been named as Assistant Coaches with Chris Bishop and Garry Burkinshaw also on the selection panel.

Bilkey has had, by anyone’s standards, a remarkable playing career. Premierships in Sydney, London and Auckland; representative football for Sydney AFL in 2010-2011, second place in the 2011 Sydney AFL Best & Fairest Award, and a League Best & Fairest Award playing for Uni Blues in the Auckland Football League.

Bilkey indicated that he was very pleased to be announced as the BDAFL Representative Coach; “It’s a huge honour, the League has been around for a long, long time and it is great to be part of it.”

Bilkey explained his background and junior footy; “I am a Baulkham Hills Falcons junior, and then the East Coast Eagles (whom Bilkey played senior footy for) was formed out of the Baulkham Hills footy club in 2000. I played my junior footy with Baulkham Hills, and I idolized the club as a young man. I watched them run around on a Sunday, getting flogged every week, when I was 14, 15, 16. In 2000, when I joined the senior club, that’s when the East Coast Eagles were formed.”

When asked about playing Australian Rules overseas, Bilkey said; “I moved to the UK when I was about 20, having worked for a couple of years before then for the Sydney Swans. I decided to travel a bit, working in a pub in London, and my now wife went with me. Once I arrived in London, I got a phone call from Matt Glynn, who was the President of the West London Wildcats at the time. He asked me to come down and have a kick, and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time; we went on to win the Premiership the two years I was there. The Wildcats won six out of the next eight premierships after that.”

Bilkey later won a promotion with his then employer Kings Transport to be the General Manager of their New Zealand branch. “My wife and I had our honeymoon in New Zealand, so we jumped at the chance of living and working in Auckland. My predecessor had played footy for Uni Blues in Auckland, and I also knew a Uni Blues player named Nick Trask, who played a handful of games for the Brisbane Lions in the early 2000s. We were fortunate enough to win two flags when we there as well.”

Bilkey and his wife have four beautiful sons. Bilkey said that “we had a block of land in Sydney but decided it was too busy to live there anymore, especially after living in the more relaxed atmosphere of Auckland. My brother lives in Newcastle, so we ended up buying a place in Newcastle. I was fortunate enough to land a job with my current employer Tamex Transport about two weeks after we moved up here. We’ve been here since Christmas 2016.”

Bilkey, when asked about being appointed as League Coach, advised that “I knew BDAFL Football Operations Manager Garry Burkinshaw from when Garry ran the Sydney AFL. I actually worked for Digital Media, who had the rights to film Sydney AFL games. I had a fair bit to do with Garry as a player and contractor in the industry. I contacted Garry to say I would love to be involved with the BDAFL, and a few weeks ago, he asked if being League Coach was something I’d be interested in. I jumped at the chance.”

Bilkey is a former teammate of Terrigal Avoca Premiership Coach Mark Skuse, who he described as a very good player, a “smart player”.

With the BDAFL taking on AFL Canberra at UNSW Canberra Stadium (also known as Manuka Oval), Bilkey advised that “I played some junior rep footy there as a 15-16 year old, then I played there in the NEAFL as well, we actually played in a semi-final against Eastlake there, going down by about 14 points. It’s one of my favourite grounds, it’s an ideal size for football, and a beautiful place. I saw Jarrad McVeigh take one of the best marks I have ever seen there, as a 16-year-old.”

Bilkey indicated that he has a steep learning curve with the possible BDAFL rep team, “not knowing any of the players. I will spend time watching games live and on BARTV, and will endeavour to meet the players on the way”.

We welcome Rowan Bilkey to the BDAFL, it’s great to have him on board with the League, and we look forward to a long relationship with him.


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