DOB: 29 December 1951
From: Oakleigh Districts/Richmond
Number: 9 1975-1981
Games: 140 (189 total)
Goals: 18 (25 total)
A Melbourne fan as a kid, Fowler was runner-up in the Oakleigh Districts senior Best and Fairest at 16-years-old before joining the Richmond Under 19s as a zone player. He made the Tigers' senior list in his third season and won a premiership as a 22-year-old in 1973 - famously running through Carlton giant John Nicholls - but quit Punt Road when he was omitted from the 1974 Grand Final side.
Considering his senior options too limited to try and convince him to stay, Richmond sold Fowler to Melbourne for $15,000 before the 1975 season. The Tigers wanted to swap him to Footscray for the rights to Geoff Raines, but Fowler wanted to go to Melbourne instead. Footscray then released Raines to Richmond in a side deal and Fowler was sold to the Demons. He made an instant impact, winning Melbourne's Best and Fairest in his first season. He beat Stan Alves, who had finished second in that year's Brownlow Medal. In 1976 he finished second in the award.
His 1977 season was ended prematurely by a chipped bone in the knee. In 1978 he had to be talked out of retirement before the season after being relegated to a Reserves practice match. He was recovering from the knee injury but rejected the suggestion that he was playing in the twos against Collingwood to build fitness. He called the club the day before the game and told them he was retiring. He only relented and agreed to play on after meeting with the coach. Fowler gave the club the benefit of the doubt, saying it was a case of miscommunication rather than anything sinister.
In May he briefly quit the club again, incensed that he had been replaced early in a match against North Melbourne. "The coach has made it clear to me he doesn't think I'm good enough for his team" Fowler said at the time. Coach Dennis Jones had apparently told him that his career was coming to an end. Despite being chased by North Melbourne, Richmond, Geelong, Collingwood and Norwood, Fowler declared peace three days later, withdrew his request for a clearance and returned to the Demons.
Dominant in the back pocket in often poor teams, Fowler won his third Best and Fairest in 1980 despite having been involved in a contractual dispute before the year, and represented Victoria but at the end of 1981 the thirty-year-old finally walked out for good after new negotiations for a contract fell over. His two year contract expired and he was offered an extension that saw him earning on par with some Reserves players, prompting a walkout.
Some sources say he originally asked to go to Footscray before changing his mind