A majestic goal-kicking rover with Western Districts who would have been a champion in any era, and was unquestionably one of Queensland’s all-time greats.
A born and bred Queenslander and a product of Wests Juniors, he won the coveted Grogan Medal in 1971 and 1975, and played 323 games and kicked 767 goals for Wests through the 1970s and ‘80s to rank second only to Syd Guildford on the official QAFL games list and more than 40 years on is still second on the goal-kicking list behind Kent Abey.
He also played more than 20 games for Queensland and was suitably honored in 2003 when named in the forward pocket in the Queensland Team of the Century next to Jason Dunstall and Ray Hughson.
Quick, skilful, smart and unscrupulously fair, he had a short stint at Fitzroy in 1969 before he’d made his mark in Queensland, but decided Melbourne was not for him. Fifty years on the mind of the astute football person wonders just what might have been.
An original inductee to the Queensland Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and now living in Bundaberg, he topped the QAFL goal-kicking to win the Ray Hughson Medal in 1977, played a key role in the Bulldogs’ premierships in 1977-78, and later coached the club where he was unquestioned royalty.
The Backwell elevation to Legend status in 2023 is part of a double family celebration, with son Brett also inducted into the Hall of Fame after a much-travelled career in which he was runner-up in the Grogan Medal in 1998, won the VFL’s Liston Medal in 2001 (after being runner-up in 2000), won the SANFL’s Magarey Medal in 2006, and the Fos Williams Medal as SA’s best player against WA. He also played 18 AFL games at Carlton.
Owen was elevated to Legend status in the Queensland Football Hall of Fame in 2023.