DOB: 18 June 1972
From: Newdegate/South Bunbury/Claremont, selection #3, 1991 National Draft
Number: 7 (1992-1999)
Drafted by Melbourne with a pick received from Richmond in exchange for Steve O'Dwyer, Kowal played one season of WAFL football with Claremont, then became one of 11 players from their premiership side recruited by AFL clubs that year. Unlike other interstate recruits, he crossed to Melbourne at the first opportunity, signing a two year contract in December 1991.
After three games off the bench in late 1992, Kowal added extra size to his pace and played 17 games in 1993, kicking a career-best 21 goals. He was restricted to 14 games during an injury-interrupted 1994, returning from a broken collarbone to play the last six games before being dropped for finals. He played 18 times in 1995, and was pursued by Fremantle under a rule that allowed them to sign uncontracted players. After negotiations, Kowal decided to stay with Melbourne.
During the Round 15, 1996 game against Richmond, Kowal was confronted by Tigers coach Robert Walls after a tackle on Chris Naish. Kowal was charged with misconduct in that he chested Walls and pushed a Tigers runner. Walls was cited for making "intimidating and forceful" comments at Kowal. Kowal was fined $1500, Walls $5000 and the runner suspended for the rest of the year. Walls apologised to Kowal for his conduct.
A disappointing 1997 season saw Kowal play most of the year in the Reserves, appearing for the senior side just six times. Lucky to retain his place on the senior list he responded with 14 games in a much-improved Demons side the next year. That year he was equal runner-up - alongside Peter Walsh in the Gardiner Medal for best player in the Reserves.
Kowal played in Round 1, 1999 but struggled to cement a place in the side. He played his 100th game in Round 13, but three disposals against Port in Round 20 saw him dropped for the last time. He was delisted at the end of the year, nominating for the draft but unable to find another club. Despite suggestions of a move to Tasmania to coach the Northern Bombers, he returned to Claremont as captain instead. In his first season, Kowal ran third in the Sandover Medal count. In 2001 he was named captain and played with the Tigers until the end of 2005 for 105 games total.
|Round 15, 1995||Attempting to kick||Withdrawn|
|Round 15, 1996||Misconduct||$1500 fine|
Age - 09/12/1991, 15/07/1993, 07/11/1995, 19/07/1996, 24/11/1999
Herald Sun - 21/06/2000