James Bowen Australasia COMBE


Guernsey Number:
Career: 1892
NFC Games: 2
NFC Goals:
Debut: v Adelaide (Adelaide) 14th May 1892
Finale: v Port Adelaide (Kensington) 21st May 1892


Bowen Combe appeared in the first two games of the 1892 season, momentarily following in the footsteps of his distinguished older brother, George. 

George Combe, a premiership player with Norwood in 1887, 1888 and 1889, and with South Adelaide in 1886, had just retired but was on hand as a Norwood committee member when young Bowen  took part in the 15.16 to 1.2 slaughter of Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on 14 May 1892. It was a different matter in an exciting game at Kensington Oval a week later.  Norwood came home strongly before Port Adelaide clinched victory with a freak goal, 9.6 to 8.7, behinds not counting. 

Bowen was named in a forward pocket that day.  There is no evidence he played senior football again.  At Prince Alfred College in 1891 he was known principally as a champion runner.
Born in Victoria in 1873, Bowen was the youngest of the nine children of Harvey Edmond Combe, a prominent solicitor in London and later Geelong, and his wife Mary Ann, née Eales.  Harvey Combe migrated to Adelaide in 1849 and soon after went east to practise law with a cousin, who as Sir Charles Sladen became Victoria’s sixth premier in 1868. Mary Ann left England to marry Harvey in Victoria in 1853.  The family moved to Adelaide in 1881 and lived at College Town (later College Park).  All of the boys, at least, were given the middle name ‘Australasia’. 

In February 1906 Bowen appeared in the Adelaide Police Court on a charge of embezzlement.  His co-partner in a wine and spirit business, Alfred Carlisle, alleged that deficiencies in accounts amounted to £280, though the amounts mentioned in the charge totalled under £16.  The charge was dropped a month later.

Bowen married Alice Lillian Botting in Adelaide in 1915.  That year he was a member of the Norwood eight which won the SA Bowling Association’s  two-rink championship.  At some point he moved to the Sydney suburb of Willoughby and he was still playing bowls with the Chatswood club through the 1930s.

Bowen had a remarkable escape from serious injury on 31 July 1933 when, at the age of 60, he overbalanced while standing on the platform at the Chatswood railway station.  He fell in front of an incoming electric train and two cars passed over him.  One report suggested that the sound of the train may have triggered an epileptic fit before his fall. He was extricated with difficulty and taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital suffering from concussion and lacerations to the head and hands

A one-time postmaster, Bowen died at Brighton, Victoria, in 1941. One of his brothers, Matthew Combe, was a foundation member of the SA Jockey Club, father of SAJC stipendiary steward Harvey Combe and grandfather of David Combe, national secretary of the Australian Labor Party from 1973-81. The family was descended from Harvey Christian Combe, MP, twice Lord Mayor of London.

P Robins, D Cox, G Adams January 2021

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