Best mates Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager have been just about joined at the hip since they were five years old.

The pair first met at primary school; a wide-eyed Windhager spotting a diminutive Owens playing basketball in the schoolyard, simply coming over out of curiosity and joining in. They’ve been close to inseparable since.

“Marcus was loving his soccer for some reason. He was a bit of an odd unit back then, I don’t know what he was thinking,” Owens said as part of the new video feature A Day in the Life of Mitch & Marcus.


“Me and my brothers got him along to footy eventually. It’s great that we got him on board. It is crazy. I definitely wouldn’t have imagined myself playing AFL alongside one of my best mates.”

Little did they know all those years ago that their chance encounter would be a friendship that is now verging on two decades long.

From the basketball court, to junior footy at the Beaumaris Sharks, through to St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy and then the Saints’ senior list (where they still drive into every home game together), the two have walked the path to the elite level and beyond in-step. 

Mitch’s mum, Maki, has seen that friendship blossom over the years. The two would often come back to the Owens household after a day at school, snacking out on Maki’s famous fried rice (still Mitch’s favourite) before either walking the family dog or going straight to football or basketball training.

Mitch Owens with his mum, Maki, at the recent Mother's Day lunch at RSEA Park. Photo: Sam Bunn.

“Always, every single day after school they would do the same activity,” Maki said in the midst of preparing a Japanese feast for her son, Windhager and five of the other Saints’ youngsters at the family home.

“Often Marcus came home with us. They would walk home together and they’d love to have fried rice for a snack. Mitch still loves my fried rice!”

Chicken Katsu Curry is another staple in the Owens household, and not just for its delicious taste. Maki, originally from Yokohama, explains the word ‘Katsu’ in Japanese translates to ‘win’. Before big games, exams or other important moments, she would cook Chicken Katsu Curry to wish them luck and success.

Talent has got Owens and Windhager to where they are today, however luck has certainly played a role in seeing the two run out together in red, white and black.

There was every chance the two never made it to the senior level in the same colours despite being part of St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy, particularly off the back of Owens’ dazzling finish to his draft year which rocketed him towards top 20 selection calculations and thereby out of reach for the club to counter a bid from and opposition club.

Sydney and Geelong each bid for Owens and Windhager respectively, but the Saints matched the offers to keep both in St Kilda colours. Windhager last week became the first player drafted from the club’s Next Generation Academy to reach the 50-game mark, with Owens not far behind on 44 games himself.

Windhager and Owens are only in the infancy of their careers at the highest level, however there’s plenty more on the horizon as they continue their journeys — just like in primary school — joined at the hip.

“Football, basketball, they’ve done everything together,” Maki said. 

“It makes me very proud to see them together now.”

Watch the full Day In The Life with Mitch & Marcus below.