Western Spirit players Phil (left) and Chris Brown (right) gang up on younger brother Michael, who is still with the Ipswich Knights this season.
Western Spirit players Phil (left) and Chris Brown (right) gang up on younger brother Michael, who is still with the Ipswich Knights this season. Sarah Harvey

Close link on and off field

IT'S rare to watch a top-level regional football match without seeing at least one of the talented Brown brothers around.

More often than not, you'll see all three - especially when the Ipswich Knights tackle Western Spirit in local derbies.

However, for Phil, Chris and Michael Brown, it's hard to escape football when they've had such a strong family upbringing.

The good mates even live close together with Phil and Chris at Springfield Lakes and Michael up the road at Brookwater.

"We're all pretty close," youngest brother Michael said.

"We'll all go up to the park and knock a ball around.

"We've all got a similar sense of humour. We all get along.

"I can't remember the last time I've had a fight with my brothers."

Chris, the middle brother, agreed.

"Phil and Michael and I pretty much do a lot of things together," Chris said.

"Michael is more of an outdoor person whereas Phil just likes to go out.

"Me and Michael go fishing together and Phil and I will drink together."

Phil is the oldest at 26. Chris is 25 and Michael is about to turn 24.

Although the youngest, Michael is one of the senior players in the Ipswich Knights Reserve grade side.

The player nicknamed Box was once touted as a future club captain and remains an influential player as sweeper.

Utility striker Phil is currently a regular in Western Spirit's Division 1 side, having been a leading Ipswich Knights player in previous seasons.

Centre midfielder Chris is also at Western Spirit this year.

He had a major impact in the club's games against Moggill last month.

Chris scored a superb 89th minute goal in a 2-0 Reserve grade victory before setting up another goal in the top division match.

While the brothers are yet to play in the same Division 1 team, they shared success when the Knights were elevated to Premier League six years ago.

"Winning promotion together in 2006, that was huge," Michael said.

"Phil was playing in the same side, Red (Brodie Kenyon) as well. Red is like a brother as well.

"And Chris was playing Reserve grade and knocking on the door of A-grade. He was very much part of the set-up as well."

While switching to Spirit this season, Phil is keen for the siblings to reunite in the future.

"Hopefully we'll all be able to play with each other for the same club again," the oldest brother said.

"Maybe one day we'll all play in the same team. Box (Michael) at the back, Chris in the midfield somewhere and me up front."

Adding to the extended Brown footballing family, aunties Sarah Fisk and Anne Brown play for Springfield United.

"When the Knights play Spirit, we'll have the whole family there," Michael said.

However, it was mainly through their dad Tony - a referee - where the three Brown boys quickly inherited a love of football.

"Even growing up, we'd go to every single game that he ever refereed - all three of us," Michael said.

"We've basically been doing that all weekend, every weekend at football since we were tiny."

With no Division 1 or Reserve grade matches over Easter, the brothers won't all be together this weekend, though Chris and Phil are heading to the coast.

The trio grew up at Redbank Plains and played their junior football at Lions, before joining the Knights and Spirit.

The combination was interrupted when Chris headed overseas from the end of 2007 until 2009, holidaying with Phil and Kenyon before they returned to Australia.

This season, concrete orders scheduler Phil and insurance manager Chris switched to Spirit for a change.

"I wasn't too fussed," Michael said about his brothers moving.

"We've been playing for a long time now and we've all worked hard while we were playing.

"We're all getting to a point where we just want to enjoy playing."

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