One of North Wales Crusaders’ first signings, Owain Brown, has retired from rugby league at the age of 29.
Local lad Brown joined Crusaders, along with his younger brother Iwan, for the start of their debut season in Championship One in 2012.
He began playing rugby league as a seven-year-old for Wrexham Raiders, before moving on to Widnes Tigers at the age of 11.
After that, he spent some time with the St Helens academy and also had a stint Down Under with Moss Vale Dragons in Wollongong.
When he returned to the UK, he turned out for amateur sides Halton Simms Cross and Leigh East, as well as touring Australia with the Great Britain Students side, coached by Clive Griffiths at the time.
It was his prior association with Griffiths that brought Brown to North Wales Crusaders.
Brown has now decided to call time on his career in rugby league, with work commitments becoming more demanding.
He commented: “It’s been a great two years from where we started off from to where we are now.
“The first season was really tough and then it was the icing on the cake last year to do the double. We couldn’t have asked for any more than that.
“I never thought we would have got to the highs that we did last year and to where we are now when I first joined the club.
“We’ve surprised a few people along the way. We really clicked as a team last year and it’s a bit of a metioric rise really.
“It’s sad that it’s come to an end for me, but I can’t commit to the kind of hours to play at Championship level.
“Clive can’t guarantee me a place and I can’t really expect him to do that either.
“I’ve had a promotion in work and I’m at a stage in my career now where that’s got to take priority for me.”
One of the best memories that Brown will take from his time with Crusaders is of the fans.
He said: “Everyone has been there and played their part. The fans have been awesome for the two years we’ve been going.
“We’ve got a cracking groups of fans; they’re like an extended family. It’s always the same ones there – home and away – who you see after the games and really get behind the side.
“And there’s all the people in the background as well at the club who do a great job. There’s the fans, players and coaching staff, but the people in the background also do a lot of good work.”
Brown is also confident that Crusaders have what it takes to have a strong season in 2014 and avoid relegation.
He said: “I’ve already wished all of the boys the best of luck for the rest of the season.
“I’ve got some great mates now from my time at the club and I wish them all the best for the future.
“I am confident that we will stay up – we definitely have enough there to do that.”
Brown added: “I’m still going to come and watch Crusaders and support them – I’ve already told [CEO] Jamie Thomas that.”
Crusaders head coach Clive Griffiths has praised Brown for his time at Crusaders and wished him and his family all the best for whatever lies ahead.
He said: “Owain and I go back a long time and I’m sad to see him leave the club.
“He first emerged playing for the Wales Students championship-winning side, and then we also went to Australia together with the Great Britain Students.
“Him and his brother were the first players that I signed up at Crusaders. He’s been instrumental in getting this club going.
“He’s a local lad and it was great to have him at the club playing for us. I have the upmost respect for Owain.
“Work is quite demanding for him now and he couldn’t commit to the extra training with us moving up a league. It’s something that wasn’t under his control.
“There was the opportunity for him to go out on loan, but he feels that Crusaders is his team and he didn’t want to do that. I fully respect his decision.
“With him starting off with us, it’s a shame that he won’t be able to carry on our mission with us.”
Everyone at North Wales Crusaders wishes Owain all the best for the future.