The Lions are the only AFL club permanently based in Queensland.
On 4 July 1996 the Australian Football League (AFL) approved the first ever club merger in Victorian Football League (VFL) and AFL history, between the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears.
The combination of the two clubs led to the creation of a great team. The Bears were on the rise and had lost the Preliminary final to the eventual Premiers, North Melbourne in 1996, while Fitzroy, despite having finished as wooden spooner two seasons running, contained a number of promising young players. On 4 July 1996 it was decided that the Brisbane Lions would be created. The Brisbane Lions were officially launched on 1 November 1996, joining the national competition in 1997. The push for the team was made mostly by a local Brisbane resident, Peter Ferrante.
In their first year as the Brisbane Lions they made the finals but despite a talented playing list, the club finished last the following year, resulting in the sacking of coach John Northey with eight rounds of the season remaining. Over the summer, the club hired Leigh Matthews, who in 1990 delivered Collingwood its only premiership since 1958.
Matthews, voted the player of the century in 2000, played his entire career with Hawthorn during the club's most successful period and brought many of the Hawthorn disciplines to the Lions game. Within a season he led them from the bottom of the ladder to 4th, losing to the eventual premiers the Kangaroos in the preliminary final, before placing 5th in 2000.
In 2002, former Brisbane lawyer, Michael Bowers became Chief Executive Officer, as part of a move to turn around the Club's problematic finances.
With a number of players under an injury cloud, and having lost to Collingwood in a semi-final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground two 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 lead by almost 80 points before relaxing when the match was well and truly won and allowing Collingwood to score the last 4 goals. The final score of 20.14.134 to 12.12.84, saw the club become only the third in AFL history to win three consecutive Premierships and the first to do so since Melbourne in 1957. 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.
Despite requests for fair treatment, the Lions were forced to play its preliminary final against Geelong at the MCG on the following evening, despite the club having fairly earned the right to stage a home final. This resulted in Brisbane travelling home to prepare for the grand final on the Sunday morning while their grand final opponents Port Adelaide, a team which in fact had earned the two extra days preparation because of their finishing minor premiers, were into their second recovery day. That may have became a telling factor during the final 30 minutes of the premiership decider.
During this four year period, the Brisbane Lions became the most dominant team of the modern era. Many purists have argued that in the time of salary cap and a player draft specifically designed to assist the weaker clubs, not to mention the travel demands of modern football, the performance of the Brisbane Lions during this period is unequalled by any club in history including the Collingwood side which claimed four consecutive flags in the late 1920s, and the Melbourne side which won 5 out of 6 premierships from 1955-1960.
The Lions had an inconsistent season in 2005, and fell away badly towards the end, losing many games by very large margins. This culminated in a record 139-point defeat at the hands of the St Kilda, whom they previously defeated in round one in a controversial encounter. They finished a disappointing eleventh - out of the finals for only the second time in the club's history. When able to field its strongest lineup, the Lions produced some strong performance reminiscent of its triple premiership days however, injuries to Justin Leppitsch, Jonathan Brown, Nigel Lappin, and the retirements of premiership players such as Marcus Ashcroft, Alastair Lynch, Martin Pike, Shaun Hart and Craig McRae had taken its toll and the club played more first year players than any other side in the competition.
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.
Justin Leppitsch was forced to retire through injury and with season ending injuries to prominent players Nigel Lappin, Chris Scott, Ashley McGrath, Richard Hadley, Anthony Corrie and key ruckman Jamie Charman, coach Leigh Matthews was forced to debut an unprecedented number of youngsters and rookies and due to this, the club experienced inconsistent results. While many of the new youngsters displayed great promise, and continued to attack the ball and tackle opponents in typical Brisbane Lions spirit, it became evident during the final few matches that the young Lions were clearly into rebuilding mode. With AFL Rising Star nominations to Michael Rischitelli, Cheynee Stiller and Matthew Moody and the emergence of rookie Jason Roe among others, the future looks promising, but the realists also know that the rebuilding phase will take a few years.
Despite the young team losing more home games than ever before, and reducing the Gabba's status as a fortress that intimidated opposition teams, the Lions still produced average crowds the equal of the Rugby League premiership winning Brisbane Broncos.
Justin Leppitsch and Brad Scott announced their retirements during the season. A controversial feud between the club and Jason Akermanis divided supporters of the club and received massive publicity, resulting in Akermanis being stood down for the last seven matches of the season by his senior playing peer group who felt that his loyalty to the club and playing group was compromised.
After the 2006 home and away season it was revealed that major sponsor AAPT would not be renewing their sponsorship. It was announced shortly after that Vodafone had signed a sponsorship deal with the club worth 5.4 million dollars over three years.
The Brisbane Lions team of the decade fullback Mal Michael announced his retirement from football on Thursday 5 October due to lack of motivation and desire to pursue other non-football related activities. While at the Lions he was one of the premier fullbacks in the AFL and was very unlucky not to receive an All-Australian honour and was a pivotal figure at the Brisbane Lions and played a significant role in each of the grand finals contested. In highly controversial circumstances, a contract loophole enabled Mal to sign with the Essendon Bombers and continue his career there.
Inspirational Skipper Michael Voss also announced his retirement from football on Friday 6 October due to the stress placed on his body from years of football and a chronic knee injury. He was the co-captain of the team from 1997 to 2000 with Alistair Lynch before leading the side for the remainder of his career, including the historic three straight premierships. In his final season of football, Voss still played 21 out of a possible 22 games, missing one game through knee soreness which turned out to be the same knee which led to his retirement.
At the completion of the 2006 season Chris Johnson remains as the last ever representative of the Fitzroy Football Club to be playing senior AFL football.
The Brisbane Lions finished runner up in the NAB pre-season cup, and then went on to create history by being the first team in the history of the AFL to have 5 co-captains. They started the season with a convincing 25-point win over Hawthorn, 9.15.(69) to 6.8.(44) and a massive win, after tributes to former captain, Michael Voss, against the St. Kilda Football Club, with a 52 point margin.
On Sat 12 May, the Lions marked Leigh Matthews' 200th game in charge of the team against the Crows
On Saturday 19 May, against Mal Michael's new team, the Essendon Bombers, the Lions began confidently, but eventually succumbed to their biggest loss in season 2007, by a margin of 64 points. The Lions lost to Collingwood by 33 points at the Gabba in Round 9 and drew with Richmond at Telstra Dome with the final scores 10.13 (73)-apiece.
On Thursday 7 June Lions co-captain Simon Black and former Lions captain Michael Voss were charged an assault that allegedly took place on the eve of the 2006 AFL Grand Final. Against Jason Akermanis' new side, the Western Bulldogs, in Round 11, the Lions yet again began confidently, kicking the first two goals of the game before being overrun. The Lions did failed to score a goal in the second quarter but came back in the last to reduce the margin to 23 points, holding the Bulldogs goalless in the final term. Akermanis kicked two consecutive goals in the first quarter to take the margin out to 15 and 21 points respectively.
At a rainy Skilled Stadium two weeks later, the Lions failed to score a goal in the first half and never looked like coming back, going down to their second biggest loss of the season so far. On 30 June, Brisbane faced Port Adelaide and led by seven points at quarter time before being overrun in the second, the Power booting 7 goals to 2 to lead by 19 points at half-time. At three-quarter time, the Lions were down by 28 points and 40 points a few minutes early into the final term before they fought back to level the scores at 105-all courtesy of a Jonathan Brown from a free kick. A minute later, a 50-metre penalty gifted Port Adelaide's Brett Ebert a goal and managed to hold on for a 7-point win.
The Lions then took on West Coast at Subiaco Oval. The Lions started off well but West Coast took a 10-point lead at quarter time and seven at half time. The Lions clicked into gear in the third term, kicking five goals to two to take an unlikely 11-point lead at three-quarter time. They kicked 3 goals to 1 in the final quarter to create the year's biggest upset with a 27-point win. Brisbane followed that up a week later with a convincing 44-point win over Melbourne at The Gabba.
On 22 July, the Lions faced a struggling Carlton Blues side who were on the back of a 62-point thrashing to Sydney the previous week. Brisbane kicked 8.5-0.3 in the last quarter, the final margin being 117 points, Brisbane's biggest ever win over Carlton, bettering their 103-point loss to Carlton in Round 10, 1987. Also, gun forward Jonathan Brown became the first player in Brisbane Lions/Brisbane Bears history to kick 10 goals in a match, beating Brad Hardie (1989) and Daniel Bradshaw (2005) who both kicked nine goals. This resulted in the sacking of the opposition coach after a run of poor results.
In Round 17, the Lions celebrated their return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a 93 point defeat of Collingwood. Jared Brennan played the best game in his 54 game career, scoring 7 goals and 5 behinds. The Lions played second-placed Kangaroos the following week in a scrappy contest at the Gabba, holding the Roos goalless in the first quarter before eventually going on to win 10.17 (77) to 5.10 (40), lifting them into the top eight for the first time since round 7. The Lions got off to a good start against Hawthorn the following week, leading by 15 points before trailing by five points thanks to a Tim Boyle goal after the quarter time siren. Jonathan Brown kicked Brisbane's only four goals in the second quarter before a Lance Franklin goal after the half-time siren reduced the Lions' lead to just five points before the Hawks broke away to a 28-point three-quarter time time lead. The Lions just couldn't come back and lost by 24 points.
Rhan Hooper received a 3 match ban for striking Hawthorn's Rick Ladson, Joel Macdonald and Troy Selwood missed the must-win clash against Sydney. Brisbane started off well with Richard Hadley booting the first goal of the game but poor kicking and too many turnovers saw them trail by 10 points at quarter-time before Jonathan Brown evened the scores at 24-all at half-time. The Lions failed to score a goal in the third time-scoring 0.3 to the Swans' 3.5. However, they jumped straight out of the blocks in the first 3 minutes, with Jonathan Brown putting the Lions in front with his second for the night. But with less than four minutes remaining, Brett Kirk thought he'd won the game for Sydney only for Jonathan Brown to kick a 55-metre goal just before the full-time siren to secure a 9.9 (63) to 8.15 (63) draw.
The Lions failed to make the finals for a third successive year and lost Chris Johnson and Chris Scott to retirement. Youngster Cameron Wood was traded to Collingwood in exchange for Pick 14, which the Lions gave to Melbourne for Travis Johnstone. On the last day of the 2007 trade week, Richard Hadley was traded to Carlton for pick #52.
The Lions began the 2008 NAB Cup shakily, losing to Essendon by 27 points. The 2008 home and away campaign started with a game against the West Coast Eagles at Subiaco Oval, in which the Lions lost by 16 points. In their second match at home at the Gabba, the Lions wrestled with an in form Collingwood and eventually triumphed by two points. Jed Adcock scored the winning goal for the Lions. After a 17-point loss to the Sydney Swans the next week (Rivalry Round), the Lions managed a record breaking comeback against Port Adelaide after turning around a 47-point deficit half way through the third quarter, to come out winners by 20 points by the final siren. The Lions were then defeated by Hawthorn by 12 points followed by a sound victory over Melbourne by 52 points. They suffered another defeat to Geelong by 27 points followed by the Lions' first consecutive wins for the season with wins over Carlton by 33 points and Saint Kilda by 46 points. This was followed up by wins over North by 31 points and Fremantle by 22 points. The winning streak would eventually be snapped by a defeat from the Bulldogs by 63 points. The team struggled for the rest of the 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. Coach Leigh Matthews resigned at the end of the season after 10 seasons and 3 premierships with the club.
Coach: Leigh Matthews
|Year||Members||Finishing position1||Average crowd|
Due to their merger with Fitzroy, approximately 6,700 of Lions members are based in Melbourne.
|2001 Carlton & United Breweries AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground||Crowd: 91,482|
|2002 Carlton & United Breweries AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground||Crowd: 91,817|
|2003 Carlton & United Breweries AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground||Crowd: 79,451|
|2004 Toyota AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground||Crowd: 77,671|
Best and Fairest Merrett-Murray Medal
|2001||Simon Black & Michael Voss|
|1999||Jason Akermanis & Justin Leppitsch|
Brownlow Medal winners
Leigh Matthews Trophy winners
Norm Smith medal winners
Mark of the Year winners
Goal of the Year winners
Coleman Medal winners
National team representatives (since 1999)
Jim Stynes Medallists (best player national team)
Grand Finalists/Runners Up
Pre-Season Grand Finalists
Biggest home crowds
|1||37,224||15/2005||Win||Collingwood||19.19 (133)||7.13 (55)||+78||The Gabba||Night|
|2||37,032||PF/2001||Win||Richmond||20.16 (136)||10.8 (68)||+68||The Gabba||Night|
|3||36,803||4/2003||Win||Collingwood||14.11 (95)||11.15 (81)||+14||The Gabba||Night|
|4||36,467||3/2004||Win||Collingwood||21.11 (137)||12.5 (77)||+60||The Gabba||Night|
|5||36,197||1/2003||Win||Essendon||14.20 (104)||8.13 (61)||+43||The Gabba||Night|
|6||36,149||10/2001||Win||Essendon||15.12 (102)||10.14 (74)||+28||The Gabba||Night|
|7||36,077||17/2005||Win||Essendon||17.12 (114)||14.17 (101)||+13||The Gabba||Night|
|8||34,327||21/2008||Loss||Carlton||16.13 (109)||18.7 (115)||-6||The Gabba||Night|
|9||33,867||2/2008||Win||Collingwood||13.18 (96)||13.16 (94)||+2||The Gabba||Night|
|No.||Name||Debut||Games with this club||Total Games||Goals||Previous Clubs|
|1||Mitchell Clark||2006||6||6||3||East Fremantle (WA)|
|2||Albert Proud||2007||2||2||0||Mt Gravatt (QLD)|
|3||Sam Sheldon||TBD||0||0||0||Oakleigh (VIC)|
|4||Travis Johnstone||1997||4||160||111||Dandenong Stingrays/Melbourne (VIC)|
|5||Scott Harding||2006||14||14||2||Morningside (QLD)|
|6||Luke Power||1998||176||176||176||Balwyn/Oakleigh (VIC)|
|7||Jed Adcock||2004||32||32||7||Maryborough/North Ballarat U18 (VIC)|
|8||Tim Notting||1998||156||156||111||Navarre/North Ballarat U18 (VIC)|
|9||Ashley McGrath||2001||83||83||74||South Fremantle (WA)|
|10||Matthew Moody||2005||25||25||14||South Fremantle (WA)|
|11||Justin Sherman||2005||41||41||30||Clarence/Tasmania U18 (TAS)|
|12||James Hawksley||2008||4||4||0||Peel Thunder (WA)|
|13||Chris Schmidt||2007||2||2||0||West Adelaide (SA)|
|14||Lachlan Henderson||2008||0||0||0||Geelong Falcons (VIC)|
|15||Matthew Tyler||TBD||0||0||0||North Ballarat U18 (VIC)|
|16||Jonathan Brown||2000||139||139||268||South Warrnambool/Geelong Falcons (VIC)|
|17||Jared Brennan||2003||38||38||23||Southern Districts (NT)|
|18||Anthony Corrie||2004||31||31||27||Nightcliff (NT)|
|19||Jamie Charman||2001||88||88||34||Northern Eagles (QLD)|
|20||Simon Black||1998||212||212||124||East Fremantle (WA)|
|21||Daniel Merrett||2005||46||46||16||Southport Sharks (QLD)|
|22||Tom Collier||2008||0||0||0||Lauderdale/Tasmania U18 (TAS)|
|23||Matthew Leuenberger||2007||9||9||1||East Perth (WA)|
|24||Joel Patfull||2006||15||15||3||Norwood/Port Adelaide Rookies (SA)|
|25||Wayde Mills||2006||4||4||2||Southport Sharks (QLD)|
|26||Joel Macdonald||2004||41||41||6||Mt Gravatt (QLD)|
|28||Troy Selwood||2005||33||33||7||Sandhurst/Bendigo (VIC)|
|29||Jason Roe||2006||15||15||5||Nightcliff/Cairns City/Collingwood (rookie)/North Adelaide (NT)|
|30||Robert Copeland||2001||109||109||20||Northern Eagles (QLD)|
|31||James Polkinghorne||2008||1||1||0||Calder Cannons (VIC)|
|32||Cheynee Stiller||2006||13||13||4||Northern Eagles (QLD)|
|33||Rhan Hooper||2006||11||11||9||Ipswich/Mt Gravatt (QLD)|
|34||Bradd Dalziell||2008||0||0||0||East Fremantle (WA)|
|35||Michael Rischitelli||2004||22||22||12||Keilor/Western U18 (VIC)|
|36||Daniel Bradshaw||1996||181||181||363||Woodonga (VIC)|
|37||Matt Austin||TBD||0||0||0||North Ballarat U18 (VIC)|
|38||Haydyn Kiel||TBD||0||0||0||Southport (QLD)|
|39||Josh Drummond||2005||21||21||12||Northern Eagles (QLD)|
|40||William Hamill||2007||0||0||0||Mt Gravatt (QLD)|
|41||Scott Clouston||TBD||0||0||0||Morningside (QLD)|
|44||Nigel Lappin||1994||257||257||170||Chiltern (VIC)|
|No.||Name||Debut||Games with this club||Total Games||Goals||Previous Clubs|
|27||Pat Garner||2007||0||0||0||Western Magpies (QLD)|
|38||Haydyn Kiel||TBD||0||0||0||Southport (QLD)|
|40||Phil Smith||TBD||0||0||0||Calder Cannons (VIC)|
|41||Scott Clouston||TBD||0||0||0||Morningside (QLD)|
|42||Pierce Hanley||TBD||0||0||0||Mayo (IRE)|
|45||Daniel Dzufer||2007||1||1||0||Suncoast Lions (QLD)|
|46||Colm Begley||2006||2||2||0||Laois (IRE)|
|47||Joel Tippett||TBD||0||0||0||Southport (QLD)|
Bold text means the players have played in at least one AFL Grand Final.
|Last No. worn||Name||Games with this club||Total Games||Goals||Notes|
|10||Marcus Ashcroft||318||318||145||retired after the 2003 AFL season after the Brisbane Lions' 3rd successive premiership|
|12||Jason Akermanis||248||248||307||traded to Western Bulldogs for the 2007 AFL season|
|1||Richard Champion||183||183||80||retired after the 2000 season|
|1||Blake Caracella||33||187||218||traded to the Lions for 2003-2004 seasons by Essendon for Damian Cupido, drafted by Collingwood for the start of the 2005 season, but retired after the 2006 season due to a neck-related problem|
|1||Des Headland||52||129||128||traded to the Fremantle Dockers for the start of 2003|
|2||Chris L. Johnson||205||264||171||retired after the 2007 season and has taken up a job as a development coach for the Brisbane Lions.|
|27||Clark Keating||139||139||83||delisted after 2006 after his career was shattered by injuries, he has since retired from Australian Football. He has now become the Lions' new ruck coach|
|41||Matthew Kennedy||188||188||30||retired before the 2001 AFL Grand Final|
|23||Justin Leppitsch||227||227||194||forced to retire after a back-related injury in 2006|
|11||Alastair Lynch||186||306||633||one of the club's leading goalscorers, retired after the 2004 Grand Final.|
|4||Craig McRae||195||195||232||retired after the 2004 season and is now an assistant coach with the Richmond Tigers|
|15||Mal Michael||140||201||28||retired after the 2006 season after he lost his passion to play AFL, Brisbane Lions furious that he is coming out of retirement to play for Essendon only months after retiring.|
|13||Martin Pike||106||247||126||retired late in 2005 after being placed on the long-term injury list with a groin complaint|
|33||Darryl White||268||268||165||retired at the end of 2005|
|3||Michael Voss||289||289||245||called it quits after 2006 because of a knee injury|
|5||Bradley Scott||146||168||45||retired after the 2006 AFL season and has taken up an assistant coaching position with the Collingwood Magpies|
|22||Chris M. Scott||159||214||79||retired after the 2007 season|
|14||Richard Hadley||41||41||10||Traded to Carlton for the 2008 season|
|43||Beau McDonald||91||91||19||retired because his body could no longer support his footy skills.|
These are the jumper designs used in the 2007 season. The club's current major sponsor is now Vodafone.
The Lion's Mascot Manor representative and club mascot is Bernie "Gabba" Vegas, a caricature of a lion dressed in Brisbane Lions jumper, sunglasses, wide lapels and flares, designed to resemble Elvis Presley.