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He went to the Geelong College for his schooling.
Also a player, from 1880 to 1891 Brownlow played with the Geelong Football Club in the Victorian Football Association (VFA), before the formation of the VFL. During his career he was also the club secretary, beginning from 1885 and ending in 1923, a year before his death.
In addition to this he was caretaker president of the VFL in 1918 and 1919.
Brownlow married Matilda Jane Barber and they had four children: Daisy, Ruby, Elsie and Charles junior.
He is known for having the Brownlow Medal named in his honour. It was first awarded in 1924, the season immediately following his death, and is still awarded in today's Australian Football League to the player judged by umpires to be the fairest and best player throughout the year. The Medal is engraved, "Chas Brownlow Trophy".
In 1997, Brownlow was inducted as an administrator into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Brownlow was also secretary of the Geelong Cricket Association between 1896-97 to 1912-13 and treasurer from 1899-1900 to 1912-13.
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