Career : 1923
Debut : Round 2, 1923 vs St Kilda, aged 24 years, 80 days
Carlton Player No. 380
Games : 13
Goals : 0
Last Game : Round 18, 1923 vs Geelong, aged 24 years, 206 days
Guernsey No. 8
Height : 176 cm (5 ft. 9 in.)
Weight : 71 kg (11 stone, 2 lbs.)
DOB : 21 February, 1899
At the age of 18, Roland ‘Rowley’ Faust volunteered to help fight a war for his country in World War 1. After two years in uniform, he returned home relatively unscathed and became a star defender for VFA club Brunswick. In 1923 he joined the Carlton Football Club for one bleak season, before crossing back to the VFA and Premiership glory with Coburg.
Faust was born in the inner-western Melbourne suburb of Kensington in 1899. By August 1914, when the British Empire and its allies declared war on Germany, he and his family had moved across town to Brunswick, where Rowley began playing junior football for the Brunswick Magpies.
As World War 1 quickly escalated and casualties in the first two years of the conflict exceeded all expectations, the government ramped up its efforts to convince young men to volunteer for war service. One such scheme was to form units made up of men from the same suburb, industry or workplace – based on the successful English idea of forming ‘Pals Battalions’.
Rowley was attracted to the ‘Sportsman’s 1000’; a draft of reinforcements for the 21st Battalion. His widowed mother gave her consent, and Rowley enlisted in July, 1917. After basic training at Broadmeadows, he sailed for France via England in November. Early in 1918, he was advised that somehow, his regimental number – 6797 - had also been allocated by mistake to another soldier – so from then on, he was number 6797A. This made Rowley one of only a handful of Australian service personnel to be assigned an alpha-numeric number.
Rowley fought with his Battalion through the costly campaigns of 1918, which saw the tide turn at last in favour of the Allies. German resistance weakened in the last months of that year, and by chance, he was granted leave to Paris on November 10, 1918 – just 24 hours before the Armistice that ended the war was signed at 11am on November 11. Amid unbridled joy in the City of Light, Rowley’s five days’ furlough must have been memorable indeed!
An epidemic of influenza delayed Faust’s return to Australia until July 1919, but by the beginning of the next football season he had settled back into civilian life, and laced up his boots again for Brunswick. Described as a courageous and relentless type of defender who preferred to blanket his opponent rather than to chase kicks, he caught the eye of Carlton’s scouts in 1922, and accepted an invitation to join the Blues.
Faust wore Carlton guernsey number 8 for the first time in May 1923, playing in a back pocket against St Kilda at Princes Park. In something of a portent of the season to come, two Blues were reported in a spiteful match, and Carlton lost by 44 points. He went on to appear in 13 games for the year, mainly on the last line at full-back, or in the pocket. Overall it was a tough year for the Blues, who wound up seventh on the ladder with just six wins, so it was no real surprise when Rowley told the club that he didn’t want to continue.
In 1924, he crossed back to the VFA and joined front-runners Coburg, where he became a stalwart of the club over the next decade. He was at full-back in the Lions’ historic 1926-27 Premiership double, and played out his football career with them well into his thirties.
Faust passed away on the 24th June, 1959 aged 60.
Five members of Coburg’s 1926 VFA Premiership team; Rowley Faust, Aub Charleston, Ernie Martin, Aubrey Martyn and Colin Martyn - also played with Carlton.