Brisbane Lions

Last updated

Brisbane Lions
Brisbane Lions logo 2010.svg
Full nameBrisbane Bears-Fitzroy Football Club Limited, trading as Brisbane Lions Australian Football Club [1]
Nickname(s)Lions, Brissie, The Roys
2020 season
After finals4th (Preliminary Final)
Home-and-away season2nd
Leading goalkicker Charlie Cameron (26)
Merrett–Murray Medal Lachie Neale
Club details
Colours  Maroon   Blue   Gold
Competition AFL: Senior men
AFLW: Senior women
VFL: Reserves men
ChairmanAndrew Wellington [2]
CEO Greg Swann
CoachAFL: Chris Fagan
AFLW: Craig Starcevich
Captain(s)AFL: Dayne Zorko
AFLW: Emma Zielke
PremiershipsAFL (3)AFLW (1)Reserves (5)
Ground(s)AFL: The Gabba (42,000)
AFLW: Hickey Park (5,000)
VFL: SP Sports Complex (3,000)
Training ground(s) The Gabba (1997–present)
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Other information
Official website
AFL current event.svg Current season

The Brisbane Lions is a professional Australian rules football club based in Brisbane, Queensland, that plays in the Australian Football League (AFL).


The club was formed in late 1996 via a merger of the Fitzroy Football Club's football operations and the Brisbane Bears. [3] The club's colours of maroon, gold and blue are drawn from both entities. The Lions were the most successful AFL club of the 2000s, appearing in four consecutive Grand Finals from 2001 to 2004 and winning three premierships (2001, 2002, 2003). They play home matches at the Gabba and have their offices and indoor training facilities located within the stadium.

The Lions also field teams in two other competitions. They were a foundation team in the AFL Women's competition in 2017 and have featured in three grand finals in that time, winning the premiership in 2021 and finishing runners-up on the other occasions. They have also fielded a reserve men's team in several leagues over the years, and as of 2021 the reserves team competes in the Victorian Football League.



The famous Fitzroy passant lion logo which became the symbol of the Brisbane Lions Fitzroy Lion.jpg
The famous Fitzroy passant lion logo which became the symbol of the Brisbane Lions

The Fitzroy Football Club started in 1883 and won a total of eight VFL premierships, of which seven (1898, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1913, 1916 and 1922) were won whilst they were nicknamed the Maroons and one (1944) as the Gorillas. The club also boasted 6 brownlow medal winners who were Haydn Bunton Sr., Wilfred Smallhorn, Dinny Ryan, Alan Ruthven, kevin Murray, and Bernie Quinlan. The decision of the club to change its nickname to the Lions in 1957 coincided with what history now records as the beginning of decades of poor on-field performance and financial losses. By the start of the 1996 season, they were almost at the end of their financial tether. With no home ground, back to back wooden spoons, and their future under a cloud, Fitzroy started exploring merger options.

The Brisbane Bears were born in 1987 and initially played home matches at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. The Bears experimented with playing matches at the Gabba in Brisbane in 1991, before moving all home matches to the venue ahead of the 1993 season. On the field the club enjoyed limited success, only qualifying for the finals series in 1995 and 1996, following years of lower-ranked placings and two wooden spoons in 1990 and 1991. The closest the club came to a Grand Final was in 1996, its last year in the competition, when it lost to North Melbourne by 38 points in the preliminary final. On extremely shaky financial ground, the Bears struggled to generate many revenue opportunities in their ten year existence.

Inaugural 1997 Brisbane Lions team VCIOvtwv.jpg
Inaugural 1997 Brisbane Lions team

Fitzroy's directors had agreed in principle to merge with the 1996 premiers, North Melbourne, as the "North-Fitzroy Kangaroos". However, that proposal was rejected 15–1 by the AFL Commission, reportedly out of concern that an all-Victorian merge would be too powerful. Instead, Fitzroy was placed into administration, and its administrator accepted an offer to merge its football operations with Brisbane.

The merged team would be based in Brisbane, and Bears coach John Northey would become coach of the merged club. However, it adopted a logo, song, and guernsey based on those of Fitzroy, would take eight Fitzroy players in the draft, three Fitzroy representatives would serve on the board, and the Lions would keep an office in Melbourne.

The Brisbane Lions were officially launched on 1 November 1996, joining the national competition in 1997.

Beginnings: 1997–2000

In their first year as a combined club the Lions made the finals, finishing in eighth position before being defeated by the St Kilda Football Club in a qualifying final.

Despite a talented playing list, the disruption of the merger and injuries to key players Michael Voss and Brad Boyd took their toll. The Lions would go onto finish in last position at the end of the 1998 season. Accordingly, Northey was sacked as coach with eight rounds remaining in the season. During the off-season the club hired Leigh Matthews, who in 1990 had delivered Collingwood its first premiership since 1958.

Matthews, who was voted "Player of the Century" in 2000, played his entire career with Hawthorn and brought many of the Hawthorn disciplines to the Lions. Importantly he forced the Lions to embrace and acknowledge their Fitzroy heritage with murals and records being erected at the Gabba, and past players names being placed on lockers [4] . Within a season the Lions rose from the bottom of the ladder to fourth, before losing to the eventual premiers, the Kangaroos, in the 1999 preliminary final. The Lions played finals again in 2000, but would bow out in the second week after losing to Carlton by 82 points.

Triple premiership success: 2001–2003

Michael Voss captained Brisbane to three successive premierships MichaelVoss.jpg
Michael Voss captained Brisbane to three successive premierships

After an inconsistent start to the 2001 season, the Lions took on the reigning premiers Essendon in round 10. Brisbane finished as 28-point victors and head coach Leigh Matthews famously used the Predator quote, "if it bleeds, we can kill it", to inspire his team for the game. The Lions would then win 16 games straight, finishing the year undefeated, and booking their place in the 2001 AFL Grand Final to play Essendon.

Going in as underdogs, Brisbane started the game well, scoring the first goal of the match from a free kick awarded to Alastair Lynch for holding against Dustin Fletcher. Essendon fought back late in the first quarter then took control of the game in the second term. The Lions poor kicking for goal almost put them out of the game in the second quarter as Essendon blew their lead out to 20 points late in the term.

However, The Lions managed to overrun Essendon in the third term kicking six goals to one and turning a 14-point deficit into a 16-point lead. Brisbane's pace in the midfield and the tiring legs of most of the Essendon players played a pivotal role in them taking full control of the game in the second half. The Lions won their first premiership as a merged club comfortably, with a final score of 15.18 (108) to 12.10 (82).

The win was topped off with Lions utility player Shaun Hart winning the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground in the Grand Final. [5] :521

In 2002, the Lions won back-to-back premierships when they defeated Collingwood 9.12 (66) to 10.15 (75) in the 2002 AFL Grand Final in cold and wet conditions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Early in the contest, the Lions lost both ruckman Beau McDonald and utility player Martin Pike to injury and had to complete the match with a limited bench.

In 2003, the Lions won their 3rd premiership in a row. With a number of players under an injury cloud – and having lost to Collingwood in a qualifying final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground three weeks previously – the Lions went into the game as underdogs. However, they sealed their place in history as an AFL dynasty by thrashing the Magpies in cool but sunny conditions. At one stage in the final quarter, the Lions led by almost 80 points before relaxing when the match was well and truly won, allowing Collingwood to score the last four goals. The final score of 20.14 (134) to 12.12 (84) [5] :860 saw the club become only the fourth in VFL/AFL history to win three consecutive premierships and the first since the creation of the AFL. Simon Black claimed the Norm Smith Medal with a dominant 39 possession match, the most possessions ever gathered by a player in a grand final. [6]

During their premiership years, the club took the premiership cups to the Brunswick Street Oval in Fitzroy, the original home of the Fitzroy Football Club. It was an important way of connecting with Melbourne-based Lions fans, many of whom had previously supported Fitzroy, and of winning over disaffected Fitzroy fans who had not started supporting the Brisbane Lions post-merger by honouring the history of the club. [7] [8]

Lions captain Michael Voss and coach Leigh Matthews present the 2002 premiership cup to Melbourne based Lions fans at Brunswick st oval 1824 Brunswick st Lions.webp
Lions captain Michael Voss and coach Leigh Matthews present the 2002 premiership cup to Melbourne based Lions fans at Brunswick st oval

The 2004 season saw Brisbane remain in the top portion of the ladder for most of the season. Reaching the finals in second position, Brisbane controversially had to travel to Melbourne to play against Geelong in the preliminary final, due to a contract between the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Australian Football League (AFL) that required one preliminary final to be played each year at the MCG. [9] Port Adelaide had finished on top of the ladder and hosted the other preliminary final in Adelaide. Despite this setback, Brisbane beat Geelong and reached the AFL Grand Final for the fourth consecutive year. Their opponents, Port Adelaide, playing in their first ever grand final, were too good on the day and recorded a 40-point win. [10]

Rebuild & Michael Voss: 2005–2013

Training, May 2007 Traininghard.jpg
Training, May 2007

The 2005 season saw the end of domination by the Lions. At the finish of the home and away season they were not placed in the final eight, finishing 11th.

The Lions began the 2006 season optimistically, but injuries again plagued the club, whose players recorded an AFL record total of 200 matches lost to injury for the season.

The Brisbane Lions started the 2007 season promisingly, finishing runner up in the 2007 NAB Cup. However, the Lions would fail to make the finals for a third successive year. Despite this, the Lions made history by becoming the first team in the history of the AFL to have five co-captains.

The team struggled during the 2008 season and missed out on the finals with a 10–12 record, losing 3 games despite having at least 5 more scoring shots in each of those games. Following the season, Coach Leigh Matthews resigned after 10 seasons and 3 premierships with the club. The Lions appointed former player and Captain Michael Voss as the coach ahead of 2009.

Brisbane's 2009 season was promising for the club. After only winning 2 games from the first 5 played, the club won 9 of the next 12 to sit in 6th on the Ladder, where they would finish the season. They would also record a strong victory over eventual premiers Geelong during this timeframe by 43 points. The club beat Carlton in their Elimination Final, coming from 30 points behind in the final quarter to win by 7 points, before losing to the Western Bulldogs in a Semi Final.

The 2009/2010 off-season was dominated by the arrival of Brendan Fevola from Carlton, with a belief in the club that Fevola could help them capitalise and improve upon their strong 2009 season. Indeed, the Lions won their first four matches of the 2010 season to be top of the ladder after four rounds, but they would only win three more games after that to finish 13th by the end of the season.

The Lions' 2010/2011 off-season was disrupted by the sacking of Fevola after just one season at the Lions, following repeated off-field indiscretions which included getting drunk in the Brisbane streets during New Year's Eve celebrations. On the field, the Lions won only four games for the year and finished 15th overall. Despite their worst season since 1998, coach Michael Voss was granted a contract extension after the board recommended that Voss was the best man to take the club forward into the future. Leading into season 2012, only two players from the triple-premiership winning team of 2001–2003 remained: Simon Black and Jonathan Brown.

The 2013 season started well for Brisbane, defeating Carlton in the final of the NAB Cup, with Daniel Rich winning the Michael Tuck Medal for best on ground. However, the club began its 2013 season with back-to-back losses to the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide. Injuries took a toll on the team, with young players Claye Beams and Jared Polec suffering severe injuries. [11] [12] In Round 13, Brisbane defeated second-placed Geelong, coming from 52 points down late in the third quarter to win by 5 points due to an Ash McGrath goal after the siren in his 200th match, in what would become known as the Miracle on Grass. [13]

On 13 August 2013, coach Michael Voss was told that his contract would not be renewed. [14] [15] [16] [17]

On 18 October 2013, Brisbane Lions legend Simon Black announced his retirement.

Playing under Justin Leppitsch: 2014–2016

On 25 August 2013, former premiership player for the Lions, Justin Leppitsch, was confirmed to be the senior coach of the Lions for the next three seasons.

Lions captain Jonathan Brown Player (490631390).jpg
Lions captain Jonathan Brown

During Round 13, 2014 Lions captain Jonathan Brown was the victim of a facial injury in a clash between the Lions and the Greater Western Sydney Giants. He collided with Tomas Bugg's knee and was taken off the ground. He suffered a concussion, and subsequently retired from football. His retirement, alongside the retirement of Ash McGrath, meant there were no players from the triple-premiership era remaining at the club. [18]

On 29 August 2016, Leppitsch was sacked as coach of the Lions after multiple disappointing seasons. [19]

Chris Fagan era: 2017–present

On 4 October 2016, Hawthorn football manager Chris Fagan was announced as Brisbane's senior coach from the 2017 season onwards. [20]

The Lions claimed the 2017 wooden spoon, despite winning 5 games for the season, 2 more than the previous season. Their percentage of 74.3 was the worst in the league, behind Fremantle with a percentage of 74.4. The 2018 season was very similar, recording 5 wins to finish in 15th place.

The Lions had a magnificent 2019 season, making the finals for the first time since 2009 and finishing second on the AFL ladder with 16 wins, behind minor premiers Geelong on percentage. However, Brisbane were bundled out of the finals in straight sets at the Gabba, losing to eventual premiers Richmond by 47 points in their qualifying final and then to eventual runners-up Greater Western Sydney by three points in their semi-final due to a late Brett Daniels goal. The Lions would become the first team since Geelong in 1997 to finish second on the ladder and not progress to a preliminary final.

Brisbane repeated their form displayed in 2019 the following year, once again finishing in second position on percentage at the conclusion of the Home and Away season. They won 14 games in a shortened 17-game season. During their qualifying final, they defeated Richmond for the first time since 2009 and qualified for a preliminary final berth, but would go onto be beaten by a more experienced Geelong side in that match.

Membership base

Crowds and memberships for the Brisbane Lions grew dramatically during the four seasons in which they made the AFL Grand Final.

Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions historical society at Docklands, Melbourne Docklands exhibit.jpg
Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions historical society at Docklands, Melbourne

The club still maintains healthy Victorian support due to their Fitzroy origins, and The Royal Derby Hotel in Fitzroy is the official social venue for Victorian Lions fans, showing all televised games, and displaying a mural of club greats Kevin Murray and Jonathan Brown on its Alexandra Parade side. [21]

To add to this presence in Melbourne, the Lions Historical Society is based at Etihad stadium, containing exhibits of club history stretching from Fitzroy, to the Bears, and the Brisbane Lions. [22]

Change from previous seasonFinishing positionFinals result/Wooden spoonAverage home crowd
Profit (loss)Kit manufacturerMajor sponsor/sShorts Sponsor
1997 16,769N/A8thQualifying finalists19,550Un­known Puma Carlton & United Breweries Spam
1998 16,108Decrease2.svg 66116thWooden spoon16,675
1999 16,931Increase2.svg 8233rdPreliminary finalists21,890Devine Homes
2000 20,295Increase2.svg 3,3646thSemi-finalists27,406 AAPT Spam
2001 18,330Decrease2.svg 1,9652ndPremiers27,638($845,000) [25] Russell Athletic Bio Organics Vitamins
2002 22,288Increase2.svg 3,9582ndPremiers26,895Un­known AAMI
2003 24,365Increase2.svg 2,0773rdPremiers31,717$2,200,000 [26]
2004 30,941Increase2.svg6,5762ndGrand finalists33,619Un­known
2005 28,913Decrease2.svg 1,30811thN/A33,267
2006 26,459Decrease2.svg 2,45413th28,630
2007 21,976Decrease2.svg4,48310th28,848$1,058,000 [27] Puma Vodafone
2008 22,737Increase2.svg 76110th28,128($2,200,030) [28] HBA
2009 24,873Increase2.svg 2,1366thSemi-finalists29,172($603,207) [29] MBF
2010 26,779Increase2.svg 1,90613thN/A29,933($2,713,848) [30] Bank of Queensland, Conergy
2011 22,338Decrease2.svg 4,44115th20,462($1,855,926) [31] KooGa/BLK [lower-alpha 1] Bupa
2012 20,762Decrease2.svg 1,57613th20,344($2,513,262) [32]
2013 24,130Increase2.svg 3,36812th21,083($1,574,762) [33] National Storage, Vero Insurance
2014 24,012Decrease2.svg 11815th19,743($3,543,138) [34] TechnologyOne
2015 25,408Increase2.svg 1,39617th18,810($681,053) [35] Garuda Indonesia
2016 23,286Decrease2.svg 2,12217th17,074($1,783,506) [36] Camperdown Dairy International, Vero Insurance N/A
2017 21,362Decrease2.svg 1,92418thWooden spoon16,455($2,261,990) [37] Majestic XXXX
2018 24,867Increase2.svg 3,50515thN/A18,405($230,641) [38] Oaks Hotels & Resorts, Vero Insurance
2019 28,821Increase2.svg 3,9542ndSemi-finalists24,741$648,618 [39] Neds, Oaks Hotels & Resorts [lower-alpha 2] The Coffee Club
202029,277Increase2.svg 4562ndPreliminary finalists10,648 [lower-alpha 3] N/A Classic Neds, XL Express

Statistics highlighted in bold denote the best known season for Brisbane in that category
Statistics highlighted in italic denote the worst known season for Brisbane in that category

  1. The manufacturer was known as KooGa from the 2011 season to the 2013 season, and as BLK from the 2014 season to the 2016 season.
  2. For a short period in the 2018/19 off-season, from November '18 to March '19, the Lions' co–major sponsors were Oaks Hotels & Resorts and SOOW; however, the contract with SOOW was cancelled before the first game of the home-and-away season was played.
  3. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were capped crowd capacities during the 2020 season
Fitzroy icon Kevin 'Bulldog' Murray and Ex-Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown Brown murray derby.jpg
Fitzroy icon Kevin 'Bulldog' Murray and Ex-Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown

Non-playing/coaching staff

Greg Swann Chief Executive Officer
Andrew WellingtonChairman
Sarah KellyDeputy chairman
Cyril JinksDirectors
Leigh Matthews
Peter McGregor
Mick Power
Ross Thornton
Danny DalyGeneral Manager of Football
Dom AmbrogioList Manager
Andrew Crowell Personal Excellence and Wellbeing Manager
Damien AustinHigh Performance Manager
Stephen ConoleSenior Recruiting Manager
Leon Harris Recruitment Consultant

Relationship with Fitzroy FC

The Lions playing against Collingwood in a 1960's Fitzroy jumper for the 2003 heritage round Aussie rules wikipedia.jpg
The Lions playing against Collingwood in a 1960's Fitzroy jumper for the 2003 heritage round
Fitzroy and the Brisbane Lions spiritual home of Brunswick Street Oval Fitzroy Cricket Ground Grandstand.jpg
Fitzroy and the Brisbane Lions spiritual home of Brunswick Street Oval

Fitzroy FC Ltd improved its relationship with the Brisbane Lions in the ten years from 1999–2009. In that time Brisbane acknowledged the two parent clubs for the merger with the letters BBFFC printed below the back of the neck of the club's guernseys from 2002. The Fitzroy Reds played the curtain-raiser at the MCG when the Brisbane Lions met the Collingwood Magpies in the AFL Heritage Round of 2003. Brisbane also now wears a version of Fitzroy's AFL guernsey with red instead of maroon in most matches played in Victoria, consistent with Fitzroy's most recent colours.

Relationships between Fitzroy and Brisbane were strained in late 2009, when Brisbane announced that it was adopting a new logo for season 2010 and beyond, which Fitzroy Football Club believed contravened Section 7.2 c) of the merger agreement. The new logo, a lion's head facing forward, replaced the former Fitzroy logo of a passant lion with a football. On 22 December 2009, Fitzroy lodged a Statement of Claim with the Supreme Court of Victoria, seeking an order that the Brisbane Lions be restrained from using as its logo, the new logo or any other logo other than 'the Fitzroy lion logo'. On 15 July 2010, the two clubs reached a settlement, agreeing that the Fitzroy logo symbolically represents the historic merger between the Bears and Fitzroy and the first 13 years of the Brisbane Lions competing in the AFL, and that Brisbane would use both the old and new logos alongside each other in an official capacity (e.g. on letterheads, marketing, etc.), with the old logo to be phased out altogether after 2014. Brisbane returned to using the old logo on its playing guernseys from 2015, but the new logo will remain for corporate purposes.

The Lions keep strong ties with the Fitzroy Football Club in the VAFA and the Fitzroy junior football club, sponsoring a male and female player per year from Fitzroy, and on many occasions inviting the Fitzroy juniors to form a guard of honour at Melbourne games.

This along with the support of Fitzroy greats such as Kevin Murray, Bernie Quinlan, and Garry Wilson, have ensured that the Brisbane Lions are considered a direct continuation of Fitzroy in the AFL.

Club identity


In 1997, the club unveiled its new merger emblem, consisting of the golden Fitzroy Lion on a badge of Maroon and Blue. The club used this emblem from 1997 until the end of 2001. In 2002, the club would unveil a new emblem in the shape of a football, emblazoned with the words "Brisbane Lions" and with the Fitzroy Lion located within the o of Lions. This emblem was used until 2010, when the emblem was again changed, this time in favour of a forward-facing Lion head.


Home Guernsey (worn 1997-2009 and since 2015): Predominantly maroon guernsey with a blue yoke featuring a golden Fitzroy Lion, with a gold collar and cuffs. XL Express is the current sponsor on the front whilst Ned's is the current sponsor on the back. For shorts, maroon home shorts are worn in home games and white away shorts are worn in away games not played in Victoria.

Away Guernsey (worn 2008-2009 and since 2015): Predominantly red guernsey with a blue yoke featuring a golden Fitzroy lion, with a blue collar and cuffs, and based on Fitzroy's final colours in the AFL. Ned's is the current sponsor on the front and XL Express is the current sponsor on the back. White away shorts are worn when this guernsey is used.

Clash Guernsey (worn since 2020): This predominantly white guernsey features a golden Fitzroy lion on a maroon v (the v reminiscent of the Bears’ final guernsey), with a maroon collar and cuffs. Ned's is the sponsor on the front and XL Express is the sponsor on the back. The same shorts as the Away Guernsey are worn.


Bernie "Gabba" Vegas Lions mascot.jpg
Bernie "Gabba" Vegas

The Lion's Mascot Manor representative and club mascot was Bernie "Gabba" Vegas, a caricature of a lion dressed in Brisbane Lions jumper, sunglasses, wide lapels, and flares, designed to resemble Elvis Presley. In 2016 Roy the Lion (named Roy after the nickname for Fitzroy fans) replaced Bernie "Gabba" Vegas as club mascot. [40]


The club's team song, "The Pride of Brisbane Town", is based on the Fitzroy club song, and is sung to the music of "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem. [41]

Training base

The club trains out of the Gabba. The club's administrative facilities are located in the stadium. Due to the cricket season in the summer, the club has been required to train at alternative locations, such as Coorparoo and Burpengary. In 2021, the club will move into The Reserve, Springfield, a 10,000-capacity high-class facility in Ipswich that will ensure the club can base itself in the single location and play reserve-grade and AFLW matches at the one location. [42]



Angst between supporters of Collingwood and Brisbane had been caused by plenty of history between the two clubs, despite the Brisbane Lions having a relatively short existence as a merged club. Pre-merger Fitzroy was a neighbouring suburb to Collingwood, with the boundary being based on Smith Street, along with the fact that Fitzroy and Collingwood topped the VFL/AFL premiership tally during the early existence of what was then the VFL competition. [43] There was also animosity between the Brisbane Bears and the Magpies after the Bears' number one draft pick Nathan Buckley famously defected to Collingwood after one season on the Bears list. [44] The Bears also lost their final regular season match in their final season (1996) to the Magpies, costing the Bears the minor premiership that season. However, the rivalry between the Lions and the Magpies was properly ignited post-merger, beginning in late 1999 when Collingwood played their last ever VFL/AFL game at their spiritual home ground, Victoria Park. The Lions emerged 42 point victors that day and consigned the Magpies to their second wooden spoon in their VFL/AFL history. The rivalry between the two clubs peaked in the early 2000s, as the clubs played off in two consecutive Grand Finals in 2002 and 2003, with the Lions emerging victors on both occasions. [44]

Gold Coast

The Brisbane Lions have a rivalry with fellow Queensland AFL team the Gold Coast Suns. The two teams contest the QClash twice each season. The first QClash was held in 2011, with Gold Coast winning by 8 points; the game established the highest pay TV audience ever for an AFL game, with a total of 354,745 viewers watching the game. [45]

The medal for the player adjudged best on ground is known as the Marcus Ashcroft Medal. It is named after former footballer Marcus Ashcroft, who played junior football on the Gold Coast for Southport and 318 VFL/AFL games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions between 1989 and 2003. He later joined Gold Coast's coaching staff and was the first Queenslander to play 300 VFL/AFL games. [46] Lion Dayne Beams has won the medal three times, the most by any player.

The trophy awarded to the winner of the game is currently known as the "QClash Trophy". The trophy is a "traditional style" looking silver cup with a wooden base and a plaque. The plaque's inscription reads from left to right, "Brisbane Lions AFC", "QCLASH", "Gold Coast Suns FC". [47]

Port Adelaide

This rivalry dates back to 1997, the inaugural season of Port Adelaide and the newly merged Brisbane Lions. In their early days, the two clubs couldn’t be separated and had multiple close encounters, with a draw in two of their first three meetings. [48] In the early 2000s, the rivalry reached its peak as the two clubs would be the most dominant of the era, meeting in consecutive finals series between from 2001 to 2004 and consistently finishing at the top of the Ladder. [49] The most notable meeting between the two sides is the 2004 AFL Grand Final, where Port Adelaide ended Brisbane's chances of a fourth consecutive premiership. In recent years, the rivalry has died down.[ citation needed ]


Club honours

CompetitionTeamWinsYears Won
Australian Football League Seniors3 2001, 2002, 2003
AFL Women's Seniors1 2021
Queensland Australian Football League (1998–2010)Reserves1 2001
North East Australian Football League (2011–2019)4 2012, 2013, 2017, 2019
Victorian Football League (2021–)0Nil
Other titles and honours
AFL Preseason competition Seniors1 2013
AFLX Tournament Seniors1 2018
Finishing positions
Australian Football League Minor premiership
(McClelland Trophy)
Grand Finalist 1 2004
Wooden spoons 2 1998, 2017
AFL Women's Minor premiership 1 2017
Grand Finalist 2 2017, 2018


Club facts

Coaches (men's)

1 John Northey 341221135.291997–1998
2 Roger Merrett 1137127.271998
3 Leigh Matthews 23714292359.921999–2008
4 John Blakey 10100.002005
5 Michael Voss 1094365139.452009–2013
6 Mark Harvey 321066.672013
7 Justin Leppitsch 661452021.212014–2016
8 Chris Fagan 874146047.132017–present

Coaches (women's)

1 Craig Starcevich 251410156.002017—
2 Daniel Merrett 10010.002020

Captains (men's)

Alastair Lynch Alastair Lynch.jpg 19972000 (co-captain)
Michael Voss MichaelVoss.jpg 19972000 (co-captain)
20012006 (sole captain)
Simon Black SimonBlack.jpg 20072008 (co-captain)
Jonathan Brown Jonathan Brown (cropped).jpg 20072008 (co-captain)
20092012 (sole captain)
2013 (co-captain)
Chris Johnson Johno.jpg 2007 (co-captain)
Nigel Lappin 20072008 (co-captain)
Luke Power Luke Power.jpg 20072008 (co-captain)
Jed Adcock Jed Adcock Lions 2016.jpg 2013 (co-captain)
2014 (sole captain)
Tom Rockliff Tom Rockliff Lions vs Suns 2017.jpg 20152016
Dayne Beams Dayne Beams Lions vs Port Adelaide, April 2017.jpg 20172018
Dayne Zorko Dayne Zorko Lions vs Bulldogs August 2017 08.jpg 2018

Captains (women's)

Emma Zielke Emma Zielke 19.03.17.jpg 20172018, 2020
Leah Kaslar Leah Kaslar 19.03.17.jpg 2019

Biggest home crowds

RankCrowdRound, SeasonResultOpponentBrisbane LionsOppositionMarginVenueDay/Night/Twilight
137,478 QF2, 2019 Loss Richmond 8.17 (65)18.4 (112)−47 The Gabba Night
237,224 15, 2005 Win Collingwood 19.19 (133)7.13 (55)+78 The Gabba Night
337,032 PF2, 2001 Win Richmond 20.16 (136)10.8 (68)+68The GabbaNight
436,803 4, 2003 WinCollingwood14.11 (95)11.15 (81)+14The GabbaNight
536,780 2, 2010 WinCarlton16.11 (107)12.16 (88)+19The GabbaNight
636,467 3, 2004 WinCollingwood21.11 (137)12.5 (77)+60The GabbaNight
736,197 1, 2003 Win Essendon 14.20 (104)8.13 (61)+43The GabbaNight
836,149 10, 2001 WinEssendon15.12 (102)10.14 (74)+28The GabbaNight
936,077 17, 2005 WinEssendon17.12 (114)14.17 (101)+13The GabbaNight
1035,898 3, 2002 WinEssendon17.15 (117)9.13 (67)+50The GabbaNight

AFL finishing positions (1997–present)

Legend:Premiers, Wooden spoon

Finishing PositionYear (Finals in Bold)Tally
Premiers2001, 2002, 20033
4th1999, 20202
5th2000, 20192
10th2007, 20082
13th2006, 2010, 20123
15th2011, 2014, 20183
17th2015, 20162


Current squad

Brisbane Lions
Senior listRookie listCoaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

  • Mark Stone (strategy)
  • Murray Davis (backline)
  • Dale Tapping (midfield)
  • Ben Hudson (ruck/midfield)
  • Jed Adcock (forwards)
  • Scott Borlace (head of development)
  • Mitch Hahn (NEAFL head coach)
  • Paul Henriksen (development)
  • Zane Littlejohn (development)

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)
  • (B) Category B rookie
  • italics - Inactive player list
  • Cruz Roja.svg Long-term injury
  • (ret.) Retired

Updated: 9 June 2021
Source(s): Players, Coaches

Reserves team

The Brisbane Lions have fielded reserves teams in various competitions since 1998. In its inaugural year (1997) the club affiliated with the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL), allowing players not selected for the AFL team to be drafted to individual clubs. [50] Between 1998 and 2010 the club's reserves team participated in the QAFL, where it was initially known as the "Lion Cubs", [51] until 2004 when it became the Suncoast Lions. In 2011 the team, whose name was now formally the "Brisbane Lions reserves", moved to the multi-state North East Australian Football League (NEAFL). The Lions won their first reserve-grade premiership in 2001 when they defeated the Southport Sharks in the QAFL Grand Final, and went on to claim four NEAFL premierships in 2012/13 and 2017/19. Following the NEAFL's dissolvement after the 2019 season, the Lions reserves moved to the Victorian Football League (VFL), and commenced playing in the competition in 2021. [52] The Lions currently play reserves matches at South Pine Sports Complex in Brendale, a facility opened in 2016.


Premierships (5)
2001 QAFL Southport Sharks 13.20 (98) – 13.8 (86) Giffin Park
2012 NEAFL Queanbeyan Tigers 22.12 (144) – 11.9 (75) Manuka Oval
2013 NEAFL Sydney Swans 12.9 (81) – 10.13 (73) Graham Road Oval
2017 NEAFL Sydney Swans 12.13 (85) – 10.22 (82) Sydney Cricket Ground
2019 NEAFL Southport Sharks 20.15 (135) – 8.11 (59) Fankhauser Reserve

Season summaries

SeasonCompetitionW–L–DLadder positionFinals result/Wooden spoon?Coach
1998 QAFL UnknownUnknownUn­known [lower-alpha 1] Roger Merrett
2001Premiers Craig Brittain
2002Un­known [lower-alpha 1]
2006 John Blakey/Daryn Cresswell
2007 Craig Brittain
Justin Leppitsch (caretaker)
2008 Paul Hudson
Justin Leppitsch (caretaker)
2009 Craig Brittain
20106–12–08thN/A Craig McRae
2011 NEAFL
(Northern Conference)
4–13–110thWooden spoon Nathan Clarke
2012 14–4–02ndNorthern Conference Premiers
League Premiers
2013 16–2–01st (minor premiers)Northern Conference Premiers
League Premiers
Leigh Harding
2014 NEAFL 6–12–09thN/A
2015 2–16–010th Shane Woewodin [53]
2016 3–15–010thWooden spoon
2017 15–3–02ndPremiers Mitch Hahn
2018 10–7–15thElimination finalists
2019 18–0–01st (minor premiers)Premiers
2020Season cancelled due to COVID-19
2021 VFL TBC

Statistics highlighted in bold denote the best known season for Brisbane in that category
Statistics highlighted in italic denote the worst known season for Brisbane in that category

  1. 1 2 Whilst the finals result is unknown, it is known the team was neither premiers nor runners-up.

AFL Women's team

In May 2016, the club launched a bid to enter a team in the inaugural AFL Women's season in 2017. [54] The Brisbane Lions were granted a licence on 15 June 2016, becoming one of eight teams to compete in the league's first season. [55] Former AFL Queensland employee Breeanna Brock was appointed to the position of Women's CEO the following day. [55]

Tayla Harris and Sabrina Frederick-Traub were the club's first signings, unveiled along with the league's other 14 marquee players on 27 July 2016. [56] A further 23 senior players and two rookie players were added to the club's inaugural list in the league's drafting and signing period. Emma Zielke captained the team for their inaugural season. [57]

Former Collingwood and Brisbane Bears player and AFL Queensland coach Craig Starcevich was appointed the team's inaugural head coach in June 2016. [58] The rest of the coaching team was announced on 8 November 2016 as David Lake as the midfield coach, Daniel Merrett as the backline coach and Brent Staker as the forward coach. [59] Car company Hyundai, along with Epic Pharmacy, sponsored the team in 2017. [60]

The Lions have been a successful team in the AFLW reaching the finals in 4 of the first 5 seasons. They narrowly lost grand finals in 2017 and 2018, before missing out on finals in 2019. In a shortened 2020 season, the Lions played a Qualifying Final against Carlton before the season was prematurely ended due to COVID border restrictions. No premiership was awarded in 2020. In 2021 the team won their first premiership by defeating Adelaide in the grand final.

The team plays its home games at Hickey Park in Brisbane.

Current squad

Brisbane Lions (AFL Women's)
Senior listRookie listCoaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coaches

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)
  • (i) Inactive player(s)

Updated: 9 June 2021
Source(s): Players, Coaches

Non-playing/coaching staff

Breeanna BrockChief Executive Officer
Jess BlechnydenFootball Analyst
Lana McLoughanSports Psychologist
Michael SwannWellbeing Mentor
Matt GreenHigh Performance Manager
Miranda O'HaraHead of Medical
Tara LongPhysio
Jeremy SchoenmakerHead Trainer
Kieran MilesDoctor

Season summaries

Brisbane AFLW honour roll
SeasonLadderW–L–DFinalsCoachCaptain(s)Best and fairest Leading goal kicker
2017 1st6–0–1 Runners-up Craig Starcevich Emma Zielke Emily Bates Kate McCarthy (9)
2018 2nd4–3–0 Runners-up Craig Starcevich Emma Zielke Kate Lutkins Jess Wuetschner (13)
2019 9th ^2–5–0DNQ Craig Starcevich Leah Kaslar Ally Anderson Jess Wuetschner (8)
2020 7th ^3–2–1Qualifying final Craig Starcevich [a] Emma Zielke Emily Bates Jesse Wardlaw (9)
2021 2nd7–2–0 Premiers Craig Starcevich Emma Zielke Ally Anderson Dakota Davidson (16)

^ Denotes the ladder was split into two conferences. Figure refers to the club's overall finishing position in the home-and-away season.
a Daniel Merrett was coach for round 3, and Starcevich was coach for all other matches.

See also

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