Archive for November, 2015|Monthly archive page

From the Roger & Phyllis Cowan Tribute Luncheon – Video Etc

In General Mish-Mash on November 1, 2015 at 8:50 am

Tax deductible donations to Roger & Phyllis Cowan Trust still being accepted until 9th November at Men Of League – Cowan Tribute.

On Friday 23rd October 2015, the major clubs’ associations in NSW banded together to hold a tribute and benefit function for my parents – Roger & Phyllis Cowan.

This united effort is something rare. Why did it happen?

  • To recognise and applaud their impact on and standing in the club industry.
  • To provide needed support to ease the long term damage on them after being singled out for political mistreatment.

At the luncheon I was required to introduce a video that we’d put together for the event. The introduction and the video appear below.

It is still possible to make a donation (tax deductible) to the Roger & Phyllis Cowan Trust, just go to the following link:

Men Of League – Cowan Tribute

This link will remain open until close of business on 9th November 2015 (Roger’s 80th birthday)

Following is the video introduction and the video:


Ladies & Gentleman, Colleagues, Friends, & Family

You’ve heard and seen some special tributes for Roger & Mum.

My job is to introduce another video – a more personal intimate look at Roger and Phyllis.

But really I am more here to pay personal tribute to you.

To offer you thanks on behalf of Roger & Mum and see if I can help you understand how you’ve touched and moved our entire family.

I can’t really do that without putting this moment into context. Like every event, this one has its own history.

On Melbourne Cup Day last year – so, just on a year ago – Roger had a stroke. It seemed mild and he had medical attention pretty quickly.

There were good reasons to be optimistic about a full recovery.

In fact it wasn’t long before he was doing what Roger does – pushing the exercising to the limit with long striding laps around the backyard and high rpms on the stationary cycle.

But he had a fall, another stroke – since then his condition has declined.

Naturally, this has had an impact on us all – and Mum in particular.

We have all pulled together – as most families would.

We all age, we are all subjected to infirmity as we age – it is universal. Everyone goes through it, every family has to face it.

What is not universal are the things that shape our entry into this period of our lives – the twilight as they say, or the 7th age of man as Shakespeare put it.

As Roger & Mum headed toward this stage, their trajectory promised a twilight of dignity & comfort. Their life – and ours too – had been great, it was great. It had been carved out by hard work, strong principles, vision, good humour, plenty of wine and some good luck.

A single event turned that trajectory upside down – cast us into a vortex … inescapable, heartbreaking, and shaking every branch and generation of our family.

I don’t think I need to go into detail but I will say this:

A 17th Century Cardinal – Richelieu – once said:

Give me 6 lines written by the most honest of men and I will find reason to hang him.

Ian Temby had a lot more than 6 lines to look at – he had volumes. Volumes and volumes. Covering more than 10 years of Roger’s professional and private life and Mum’s as well.

He also had sworn testimony from some who were intent on hanging Roger – and he had the support of the government and the media.

But Temby found nothing. Certainly nothing that could support hanging. The worst thing he found was an obsessive need for privacy about his salary.

But Roger had already been hung.

And so approaching their twilight – their 7th Age of Man – Mum & Roger were plunged into this vortex.

The trajectory had changed and everything was tipped up and tossed around.

Between that moment – more than a decade ago – and now, we had each other. We pooled our resources – our physical resources, emotional resources, financial resources – and we contained the impact as much as we could.

As an aside can I just say how lucky we are – that my brothers and I have partners  so strong, staunch and selfless. Right through this tumultuous time Chris, Lynn, and Karen – have given much more than you can imagine and we appreciate it much more than we ever show.

But try as we did we weren’t able to turn things around.

To me there is a clear, direct line between that event and us standing here today accepting, with great humility and enduring gratitude, your generosity and support.

Personally there are two memories that haunt me. They both pierce my mind often but especially when I visit Roger and look into his eyes and then up to a wall of photographs in his room.

The first is a moment in 2002 when during a Panthers presentation night one of the instigators of the game- changing event stumbled up to me, smiled and in a drunken slur said:

“I really like you, Max – it’s a shame what we have to do to your dad.”

I wish he could see what he and his compatriots did.

The second is Roger standing up at his last Panthers AGM and declaring:

“Those of you who have set out to hurt me have won. You have hurt me.”

So, we stand before you – still hurting.

But feeling the scars being soothed by your support, your generosity, your recognition of the contribution from both Roger & Phyllis and for the injuries they’ve sustained.

In fact, that soothing started with one very special person metaphorically and literally putting her arms around us and saying “Wait a minute, this can’t be right, we need to help”.

We shed some tears of relief.

And Rhonda Bowen went into action.

Quickly, the major industry associations – Leagues Clubs Australia, Clubs NSW, RSL & Services Clubs Association, and Club Managers Association – generously linked arms and put their shoulders to the wheel in support of Roger & Mum.

And so we have this moment of coming together in tribute and support of Roger and Phyllis.

Mention must be made some others:

Mark Condi, his Board and his team here at Bankstown Sports Club –who did not hesitate when asked to host this event. In fact, I think they said it would be an honour to do be the host venue.

All the suppliers, sponsors and donors – thank you.

Garrie Gibson, Peter Turnbull, Anne Fitzgerald, Bryn Miller, Chris Keeble & Rhonda Bowen who put this event together.

Can I just say Chris Keeble’s energy and passion seems limitless and she is very generous with both.

Casablanca Studios & Page 2 Productions who put together the audio visual material.

Of course Paul Martell and Brian Doyle – long time friends and supporters – what stalwarts they are.

And lastly Niki McDonagh from Southern OT whose therapeutic philosophies and practices have … well, she got Roger here today!! What a champion.

But most of all, and I can’t say it often enough, thanks to each and every one of you from each of us Cowans who are here today and those that aren’t

Please make sure you are in the guest book so future Cowans can also reflect on your importance to this moment in the family folklore.

We believe it is a moment is far more reflective of humanity and the real nature of our industry, than the events that have caused it to happen.

Right now here is a video that shows something of the Seven Ages Of Roger & Phyllis.