Brisbane: The tale of two teams

The rise of the Brisbane Lions has coincided in the fall of the Brisbane Broncos.

Every man, women, child, dog and most vocally ex-Broncos players are lining up right now to have a go at the club as they endure their worst losing stretch in 8 years with six losses on the trot. I'm not going to rewrite the same article that you have likely read 10 times over but rather look at two similar qualities I see with Brisbane sides when things go wrong - inexperienced coaches, poor background decisions and players with egos.

The 1990's

The Broncos - Kings of the city and the best team in the country!

There was only one hot sporting ticket in town and that was the Brisbane Broncos! A side brimming with talent in every position. Shaft Wally Lewis and in walks Wendall Sailor and Darren Lockyer. By 1998 the club had won it's 4th premiership (16 of the 17 players were rep players, sorry Phillip Lee) since its inception in 1988. Central to the teams success was a strong proven coach in Wayne Bennett and an experienced core of players. Gene Miles, Wally Lewis and Glenn Lazarus had set a high bar in the formative years for others to follow. John Ribot was the founding CEO of the Broncos in 1988 before starting up Super League, then six years at the Melbourne Storm - wherever he went, success followed.

The 1998 Broncos, not a bad side!

The Brisbane Bears/Lions - The "Bad News Bears"

Across the Brown Snake and based at the Gabba was the "Bad News Bears" who entered the AFL one year prior in 1987, yet struggled on and off the field. With around 5000 members and never finishing higher than 10th until 1996, the Bears struggled. Walking down the street no one would know who the players were. A merger with the Fitzroy Lions went through in 1998 and the team bottomed out to claim the wooden spoon. In 1999 Lethal Leigh Matthews became head coach and a new era dawned.

The Bears never tasted any sort of success. Source: Brisbane Lions Website


Brisbane is a winning town!

The Broncos continued their great run, claiming the 2000 premiership with a side that had 22 representative players! They continued their success despite a turnover of older players to win the 2006 competition whilst the city was able to jump on a winning team in AFL when a dominant midfield mixed with key position guns combined for a three peat of premierships from 2001-2003. The mighty Lions! Favourites in both 2004 (runners-up) and 2005 (9th!), the Lions were the dominant team of a generation.

The three peat! Source: Brisbane Times

2006 - 2016

The Lions Fall

In 2009, as a first season coach, Michael Voss (a brilliant player but experienced off the field) had a great season and got the team to 6th. He went all in with the trades and created a disaster. The team traded away players, picks and culture. This took them a decade to recover from. Fevola lasted one season before being sacked, the club struggled to retain players as they built a culture of losing. The appeal of living in the sunshine state had passed, players were keen to get back home to the southern states. I remember being out one night when the Lions turned up to the bar, I was waiting at the bar to meet a friend and was bullied by a senior player who was trying to be funny in front of a bunch of 18-19 year old players. What this showed me was the culture was rotten. This player would not of played 150+ games had they been at any other club. The club failed to post a profit during this period of not winning games and had to pay overs to keep average players. What was the failure down to? Inexperienced coach(es) as rookie Justin Leppitsch followed Voss, poor club management including player retention and the apparent egos of average players.


The Brisbane Broncos Fall

The biggest, most successful, biggest fan base and most profitable club in the NRL is the Brisbane Broncos. There is an expectation of success. They might not have 22 internationals but 12 representative players is a pretty good start. There are mixed messages everywhere at the moment but what it comes down to is the same problems the Lions experienced.

Put simply, Anthony Seibold is an inexperienced