John Brophy was a talented follower from Ballarat who achieved high honours in the early days of South Australian football. He was a little boy named John Evans when his father was killed in a Ballarat mining accident. John was adopted and took the surname Brophy after his mother, Ellen, married eloquent Irishman Daniel Brophy, the businessman and philanthropist who served as Mayor of Ballarat City and MP for East Ballarat, John was born in 1857 and educated at Bain's High School and St Patrick's College, Melbourne. He began work with the Victorian Public Service and then joined the English, Scottish & Australian Bank.
He cut his football teeth with Ballarat in matches against Geelong in 1876 and Melbourne in 1877. He moved to Adelaide and from 1879 to 1881 played with the old Victorians club, based at the foot of Montefiore Hill. Commenting on the 1879 season, The South Australian Register said: "Brophy proved especially useful, and at once stepped into the front rank of players. He always follows, is very strong and active, and is great at little marks."
In 1880 he was selected in the first South Australian team to meet Victoria at home. Two matches were played at Adelaide Oval, Victoria winning 5.18 to 2.7 on 14 August and 3.21 to 0.6 on 21 August.
John transferred from the orange and black of Victorians to the red and blue of Norwood in 1882 and contributed to two successive premierships before moving on after the frustrating 1884 season. He was one of Norwood's best when it played Ballarat on the way home from its Melbourne visit in 1882. Norwood, which lost 5.2 to 2.20 through atrocious kicking in slippery conditions, presented Daniel Brophy with a framed photograph of the team in appreciation of his hospitality. John was a member of the Norwood team which celebrated a famous 5.5 to 1.6 victory over Essendon when the two premier teams from the previous season met at Kensington Oval on 23 June 1883
A keen oarsman, John stroked for the Banks Rowing Club while in Adelaide. He was one of the founders of the Ballarat City Rowing Club and its president for some years. He was prominently associated with football and one of the founders of the Ballarat Handball Club.
With the death of his famous father in 1895, John, the last surviving son, took his place in the firm of Messrs Brophy, Foley & Co, auctioneers and produce agents.
John Evans Brophy, who took his second name from his mother, Ellen Evans, died on 15 June 1920 at the age of 63 after a brief illness. The Ballarat Star noted in its front page obituary that he had played for "the famous Norwood (SA) football team" . It added: "He was a man of genial, unassuming disposition who was never deaf to the call of charity."
He left a personal estate of £18,657 to his widow Mary (née Shelley), whom he had married at Beechworth, Victoria on 1 May 1889, and daughter Mary ('Mollie'), who married Dr James Rowan at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, on 4 May 1920, a few weeks before her father's death
P Robins Oct 2018