|Full name||Brisbane Bears-Fitzroy Football Club Limited, trading as Brisbane Lions Australian Football Club|
|After finals||AFL: 2nd |
|Home-and-away season||AFL: 2nd |
|Leading goalkicker||AFL: Joe Daniher (61) |
|Merrett–Murray Medal||AFL: Harris Andrews |
|Founded||1st November 1996
From the Incorporated AFL operations of:Brisbane Bears (formed 1987)
|Colours||Maroon Blue Gold|
|Competition||AFL: Senior men|
AFLW: Senior women
VFL: Reserves men
|Coach||AFL: Chris Fagan|
AFLW: Craig Starcevich
VFL: Ben Hudson
|Captain(s)||AFL: Harris Andrews and Lachie Neale|
AFLW: Breanna Koenen
|Number-one ticket holder(s)||Dan Anstey|
|Ground(s)||AFL: The Gabba (1997–present)|
AFLW: Springfield Central Stadium (8,000)
VFL: Springfield Central Stadium
|Training ground(s)||Springfield Central Stadium (2022–present)|
The Lions came into existence in 1996 when the AFL expansion club the Brisbane Bears, established in 1987, absorbed the AFL operations of one of the league's foundation clubs, Fitzroy, established in Melbourne, Victoria in 1883. Upon changing the club's official name and adopting Fitzroy's AFL nickname, Brisbane contested its first AFL season as the Lions in 1997. Its colours of maroon, blue, and gold were drawn from both Fitzroy and the Bears.
The club plays its home matches at the Gabba in Brisbane, and its headquarters and training facilities are located at Springfield Central Stadium. The Lions are one of the most successful AFL clubs of the 2000s, appearing in four consecutive grand finals from 2001 to 2004, a period in which they won three premierships (2001, 2002, 2003). They also finished runners-up in 2023.
The Lions were a foundation team in the AFL Women's competition in 2017, and have featured in four grand finals in that time, winning the premiership in 2021 and finishing runners-up on the other occasions. They also field a reserves men's team in the Victorian Football League, and operate an under-18s academy which contests Division 2 of the men's and women's underage national championships and the Talent League.
History of Fitzroy Football Club pre-1996, and Brisbane Bears
Fitzroy Football Club
The Melbourne-based Fitzroy Football Club was formed on 26 September 1883 at The Brunswick Hotel. The Victorian Football Association (VFA) made changes to their rules, allowing Fitzroy to join as the seventh club in 1884, playing in the maroon and blue colours of the local Normanby Junior Football Club.
They quickly became one of the most successful clubs, consistently in the top four, and drawing large crowds to their home at the Brunswick Street Oval in Edinburgh Gardens. This success was capped off by Fitzroy winning the VFA premiership in 1895.
Fitzroy would then go on to be one of the eight break-away clubs who formed the Victorian Football League in 1897. They would continue their VFA form and be a powerhouse in the early days of the new VFL, winning a total of eight premierships, of which seven (1898, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1913, 1916 and 1922) were won while 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, Allan Ruthven, Kevin Murray, and Bernie Quinlan.
The club changed its nickname to the Lions in 1957, but when Fitzroy was evicted from its home ground of Brunswick St Oval in 1965, this began a sustained period of poor on-field performance and financial losses. Fitzroy entered one of the least successful periods any VFL/AFL club has had. The club finished in the bottom three 11 times in the 1960s and 1970s, including three wooden spoons in four years between 1963 and 1966. The club won only a single game between 1963 and 1964 – known as the Miracle Match when it defeated eventual premiers Geelong in Round 10, 1963 – but its 1964 season was winless, and as of 2023 stands as the only winless season by any club since 1950.
Despite a revival in the '80s, when the Lions made the finals four times under the coaching of Robert Walls and David Parkin, and the playing group of 1981 Brownlow Medallist Bernie Quinlan, Ron Alexander, Garry Wilson, Gary Pert and Paul Roos, the club's financial situation was perilous.
The VFL's plans to move or merge struggling Fitzroy to Brisbane pre-dated the Brisbane Bears, and negotiations between the league and the club began in 1986 with the playing group voting for a move to Brisbane. However, Fitzroy resisted the move despite significant incentives and in response, the VFL made the decision to cut any further financial assistance to the club. 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 began to consider options for survival.
Brisbane Bears (1987–1996)
The Brisbane Bears were born in 1987 and initially played home matches at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. In its early days, the club was uncompetitive on the field and struggled to shake the derisive tags which included "The Carrara Koalas" (in reference to the Gold Coast home and the somewhat tame marsupial) and "The Bad News Bears".
After the collapse of the business empire belonging to Bears deputy chairman Christopher Skase and the resignation of chairman Paul Cronin, the club was taken over by the AFL and re-sold to Gold Coast hospitality businessman Reuben Pelerman. Off-field, Pelerman was losing millions of dollars annually on the club and at one point in 1991 told Bears coach Robert Walls that he was closing it down. The Bears would go on to finish last in 1990 and 1991.
To survive, The Bears experimented with playing matches at the Gabba in Brisbane in 1991, moving all home matches to the venue ahead of the 1993 season. As part of the club's move to the Gabba, Pelerman agreed to release the Bears from private ownership and revert to a traditional club structure in which the club's members were able to elect the board. Membership and attendances instantly tripled now that the club was finally playing in their home city of Brisbane.
The Bears only qualified for the finals series in 1995 and 1996, and the closest the club came to a Grand Final was a preliminary final in 1996.
On extremely shaky financial ground, the Bears struggled to generate many revenue opportunities in their short and turbulent ten-year existence. Despite improving its on-field fortunes, and drafting exciting young players on such as Michael Voss, Justin Leppitsch, Jason Akermanis, Darryl White, and Nigel Lappin, the club's existence was still at threat due to severe financial problems, and since 1990, The Bears had been actively exploring merger options with Fitzroy.
Brisbane Bears absorb Fitzroy's AFL operations, become Brisbane Lions
Fitzroy's directors had agreed in principle to merge with the eventual 1996 premiers, North Melbourne, as the "North-Fitzroy Kangaroos". However, that proposal was rejected 15–1 by the club presidents, 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 AFL operations with Brisbane.
Brisbane Bears then changed its name to Brisbane Bears-Fitzroy Football Club (trading as Brisbane Lions), remained at the Gabba, and was coached by Bears coach John Northey. However, the club's identity, logo, song, and guernsey would be based on those of Fitzroy, three Fitzroy representatives would serve on the board, and the Lions would keep an office in Melbourne. None of the Fitzroy representatives, former Fitzroy champion Laurie Serafini, David Lucas and Ken Levy, chosen to serve on Brisbane's board, were Fitzroy directors at that time.
Eight Fitzroy players were allowed to be recruited to the Brisbane Lions outside of the normal draft or trade system. They were Brad Boyd, Chris Johnson, Jarrod Molloy, John Barker, Nick Carter, Simon Hawking, Scott Bamford and Shane Clayton.
Fitzroy played its last VFL/AFL game on 1 September 1996 against Fremantle at Subiaco Oval, and the Bears' last match was a preliminary final on Saturday 21 September 1996 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against North Melbourne.
The Brisbane Lions were officially launched on 1 November 1996, joining the national competition in 1997.
Brisbane Lions history
In 1997, the Lions narrowly made the finals, finishing eighth. They ended up with the same win–loss record as fellow 1997 newcomers Port Adelaide, who missed out due to having an inferior percentage. Their first two games were against the eventual grand finalists of that year, Adelaide and St Kilda. They went down to Adelaide by 36 points before recording an emphatic 97-point thrashing of St Kilda in round 2. The Lions met St Kilda again in a cut-throat away qualifying final, going down by 46 points after leading the Saints at half-time. The Brisbane Lions in 1997 remain the only team in VFL/AFL history to have made the finals in their first season.
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 on to finish last 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. Within a year, the Lions rose from the bottom of the ladder to fourth. The 1999 season included a Round 20 Gabba match where the Lions led Fremantle by 113 points at half-time after having kicked 21 goals. Their half-time score of 21.5 (131) still remains the highest half-time score in VFL/AFL history. Brisbane would win their first finals as a merged entity against Carlton and the Western Bulldogs before losing to the eventual premiers, the Kangaroos, in a 1999 preliminary final. The Lions played finals again in 2000 but bowed out in the second week after losing an away game to Carlton by 82 points.
In this period the club drafted and recruited key players who would go onto be pillars of the Lions triple premiership years. Victorian Luke Power, Fitzroy father-son selection Jonathan Brown, and exciting WA product Simon Black would come via the draft, and Brad Scott, Mal Michael, and ex-Fitzroy B&F winner Martin Pike would be recruited from Hawthorn, Collingwood, and North Melbourne respectively.
Triple premiership success: 2001–2004
The Lions began 2001 by making the final of the Ansett Australia Cup, their first pre-season grand final. They went down by 85 points away to Port Adelaide, who they had also been scheduled to play in Round 1 at the same venue. After an inconsistent start to their 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 a 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 and 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.
|2001 AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: MCG||Crowd: 91,482|
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 comfortably, with a final score of 15.18 (108) to 12.10 (82).
|2002 AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: MCG||Crowd: 91,817|
In 2002, the Lions won a club-record 17 games, spending most of the season firmly entrenched in the top two with Port Adelaide. They narrowly missed out on the minor premiership following a final round defeat to the Power in Adelaide. In the finals, the Lions claimed easy home victories over the two Adelaide-based teams on their way to a second consecutive Grand Final. They faced Collingwood, who had surprised many that year after having missed the finals the previous seven seasons. Brisbane ended up defeating the Magpies 9.12 (66) to 10.15 (75) 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 became the first team in the national era to win three consecutive premierships. 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): 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; the record was equalled by Melbourne's Christian Petracca 18 years later in the 2021 Grand Final.
|2003 AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: MCG||Crowd: 79,451|
During their premiership years, the club took the premiership cups to Brunswick Street Oval, Fitzroy, the home of the Fitzroy Football Club, each morning after the grand final. Honouring Fitzroy's history at their traditional home ground was seen as an important way of connecting with the Melbourne-based Fitzroy supporters who'd chosen to support the Brisbane Lions.
|2004 AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: MCG||Crowd: 77,671|
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. Port Adelaide had finished on top of the ladder and hosted the other preliminary final in Adelaide. Former player Jason Akermanis has since claimed that coach Leigh Matthews was furious over the preliminary final location decision. Despite this setback, Brisbane beat Geelong and reached the grand final for the fourth consecutive year. Their opponents, Port Adelaide, playing in their first grand final, were too good on the day and recorded a 40-point win in what was the first-ever all-non-Victorian grand final. The grand final is partly remembered for a wild punch-up between Port Adelaide's Darryl Wakelin and Alastair Lynch, who was playing in his last ever game and therefore immune from suspension.
Rebuild and Michael Voss: 2005–2013
The Lions endured a slow start to the 2005 season before having a form reversal towards the end of the year, which included ten-goal thrashings of top-four contenders Geelong and Melbourne. Going into Round 20, they were half a game clear inside the top eight and had one of the strongest percentages in the league. However, they would lose their final three games and miss the finals, with their season culminating in a record-breaking 139-point loss to St Kilda at the Telstra Dome. It remains the club's heaviest defeat, in addition to being the largest victory in the over-100-year history of St Kilda. Some believed that the St Kilda game, rather than the 2004 Grand Final, had signaled the end of Brisbane's triple premiership dynasty.
The Lions began the 2006 season optimistically, but injuries plagued the club as they again missed the finals, with Brisbane's players recording an AFL record total of 200 matches lost to injury for the season.
The Brisbane Lions' 2007 season started with them finishing runners-up to Carlton in the 2007 NAB Cup Grand Final. The Lions would fail to make the finals for a third successive year, again showing promising glimpses at stages, with a shock away win against reigning premiers the West Coast Eagles, and a 93-point hiding of finalists Collingwood at the MCG. They made history in 2007 by becoming the first club 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.
After only winning 2 games from the first 5 played in 2009, 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. The 2011 season saw the debut of another Queensland-based team, the Gold Coast Suns. The Suns, who were coming off a 139-point loss to Essendon the previous week, upset the Lions by 8 points in their first encounter. 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. 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.
On 18 October 2013, Brisbane Lions Hall of Famer Simon Black announced his retirement.
Playing under Justin Leppitsch: 2014–2016
On 25 August 2013, a former premiership player for the Lions, Justin Leppitsch, was confirmed as the senior coach of the Lions for the next three seasons.
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.
On 29 August 2016, Leppitsch was sacked as coach of the Lions after multiple disappointing seasons.
Chris Fagan era: 2017–present
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, but multiple close losses showed signs of a young team about to breakout into finals contention.
The Lions had a dramatically improved 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 Brent Daniels goal. The Lions became 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 second 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 went on to be beaten by a more experienced Geelong side in that match.
After an inconsistent start to the 2021 season the Lions hit form, winning seven straight games to sit in the top four for most of the year. However, losses to Melbourne, Richmond, Hawthorn and St Kilda meant the Lions sat in fifth as of the final round.
With the double chance on the line, the Lions regained fourth spot in the dying seconds of their final home-and-away game against West Coast. A behind kicked by Lincoln McCarthy put them ahead of the fourth-placed Bulldogs by a single point of ladder percentage, and a goal after the siren from Charlie Cameron then sealed the result for the Lions, who finished in the top four for the third year running under Chris Fagan. However, the Lions bowed out in straight sets for the second time in three years after suffering losses to eventual premiers Melbourne and eventual runners-up Western Bulldogs in the finals, with the latter winning by a single point, due to a contentious free kick paid to the Bulldogs in the final seconds of the game.
Brisbane reached the finals once again in 2022, but this time missed the top four. With a win-loss record of fifteen wins and seven losses, the Lions finished sixth and hosted seventh-placed Richmond at the Gabba in an Elimination Final. After a close game which had 17 lead changes, the Lions prevailed, defeating the Tigers by a margin of two points in a 106–104 victory thanks to a late Joe Daniher goal. The Lions then played the Melbourne Demons in the Semi-Final, and upset the reigning premiers against all odds, bundling them out in straight sets with a score of 92–79 to progress to their second Preliminary Final under Fagan, taking on Geelong once again in a rematch of the 2020 Preliminary Final.
Unfortunately for Brisbane, their impressive finals run came to an end against the Cats, suffering a 71-point defeat in the First Preliminary Final that ended their 2022 season.
Brisbane reinforced their squad with multiple star signings in the off-season, such as star midfielder Josh Dunkley, tall forward Jack Gunston and father-son draftee Will Ashcroft, to make them one of the competition's flag favourites for the 2023 AFL season. Additionally, Fagan also penned a two-year contract extension to keep him at the club until 2025, with Lachie Neale and Harris Andrews also taking over as co-captains from long-serving Lions veteran Dayne Zorko, who stepped down before the commencement of the 2023 season.
Brisbane finished the 2023 Home & Away season in second position, finishing in the Top 2 for the third time under Fagan after previously doing so in 2019 and 2020, and finishing in the Top 4 for the fourth time after also doing so in 2021. They faced Port Adelaide in the Second Qualifying Final on the 9th of September at the Gabba, beating the Power by 48 points and going straight through to a home preliminary final, their third under Fagan, where they faced Carlton on the 23rd of September for a place in the 2023 AFL Grand Final.
After conceding the first five goals, The Lions fought back, prevailing by 16 points over the Blues to progress to the AFL Grand Final for the first time since 2004. This meant that they faced Collingwood, exactly 20 years on since they faced the Magpies in the 2003 Grand Final and completed the historic three-peat.
The Lions would fall short of the premiership in 2023, losing to the Magpies in an extremely close Grand Final with a final score of 12.18.(90) to 13.8.(86).
Membership base and sponsorship
Crowds and memberships for the Brisbane Lions grew dramatically during the four seasons in which they made the AFL Grand Final.
The club still maintains healthy Victorian support, 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.
To add to this presence in Melbourne, the Lions Historical Society is based at Etihad Stadium, containing exhibits from Fitzroy, the Bears, and the Brisbane Lions.
|Change from previous season||Finishing position||Finals result/Wooden spoon||Average home crowd
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
- 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.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were capped crowd capacities during the 2020 season
- excludes ~$15 million grant funding for construction of Springfield training ground
- excludes ~$13 million in grant funding for construction of Springfield training ground
|Greg Swann||Chief Executive Officer|
|Sarah Kelly||Deputy chairman|
|Danny Daly||General Manager of Football|
|Dom Ambrogio||List Manager|
|Andrew Crowell||Personal Excellence and Wellbeing Manager|
|Damien Austin||High Performance Manager|
|Stephen Conole||Senior Recruiting Manager|
|Leon Harris||Recruitment Consultant|
|Year||Kit Manufacturer||Major Sponsor||Shorts Sponsor||Back Sponsor||Above number sponsor||Neckline sponsor|
|1997–98||Puma||Carlton & United Breweries||Spam||Coca-Cola|
|2001||Russell Athletic||Bio Organics Vitamins||AAPT Cellular One|
|2010||Bank of Queensland (Home) Conergy (Away)||Conergy (Home) Bank of Queensland (Away)|
|2013||Vero Insurance (Home) National Storage (Away)||National Storage (Home) Vero Insurance (Away)|
|2016||Vero Insurance (Home) Camperdown Dairy International (Away)||–||Camperdown Dairy International (Home) Vero Insurance (Away)|
|2018||Vero Insurance (Home) Oaks Hotels & Resorts (Away)||Oaks Hotels & Resorts (Home) Vero Insurance (Away)|
|2019||Neds (Home) Oaks Hotels & Resorts (Away)||The Coffee Club||Oaks Hotels & Resorts (Home) Neds (Away)|
|2020||Classic Sportswear||XL Express (Home) Neds (Away)||Neds (Home) XL Express (Away)|
|2022||XL Express (Home) Youi (Away)||Youi (Home) XL Express (Away)||Hyundai |
|2023||New Balance||Caltex (Home) Youi (Away)||XXXX||Youi (Home) Caltex (Away)||McDonald’s |
Relationship with the Fitzroy Football Club
The Fitzroy Football Club came out of administration in 1998. For a brief time, it experimented in partnerships with other semi-professional and amateur clubs before incorporating the Fitzroy Reds in 2009 to play in the Victorian Amateur Football Association. Fitzroy largely resumed its original VFL/AFL identity playing in the VAFA through its continued use of its 1975–1996 VFL/AFL jumper, its club song, and its 1884–1966 home ground at the Brunswick Street Oval.
The goal was to not only maintain a strong presence in Melbourne for Victorian-based Fitzroy/Brisbane Lions supporters, but to also provide for the Fitzroy supporters who chose not to support Brisbane in the AFL. This was all done with the full support of the Brisbane Lions.
Fitzroy Football Club improved its relationship with the Brisbane Lions in the ten years from 1999 to 2009. In that time Brisbane have used the letters BBFFC printed below the back of the neck of the club's guernseys from 2002 onwards, in line with Brisbane's official name .  Fitzroy 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 however 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 Deed of Arrangement between Fitzroy and Brisbane. The new logo, a lion's head facing forward, replaced the former Fitzroy logo of a passant lion with a football.
Mockingly referred to as 'The Paddlepop Lion', the new logo on the club jumper proved deeply unpopular amongst Lions fans who demanded it be changed back to the traditional Fitzroy passant Lion.
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', in line with Brisbane's legal obligations as specified in the Deed of Arrangement, including their obligation to use the Fitzroy logo in perpetuity. On 15 July 2010, the two clubs reached a settlement, agreeing that the Fitzroy logo symbolically represents the historic deal between Brisbane and Fitzroy, and represents the Brisbane Lions in the AFL. Fitzroy agreed to a compromise whereby Brisbane would use both the old and new logos alongside each other in an official capacity for the next 14 years on all official club stationary and club publications, as well as the Lions' official website for the shorter period of seven years. 
The Brisbane Lions have renewed and maintained strong ties with the Fitzroy Football Club in the VAFA and the Fitzroy junior football club. Brisbane Lions sponsor a male and female Fitzroy player each year, conduct coaching workshops for Fitzroy, frequently invite the Fitzroy juniors to form a guard of honour for Victorian games, and have had Fitzroy past players and representatives as elected board members. 
In 1997, the club unveiled its new 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 2000. In 2001, 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. For shorts, maroon home shorts are worn in home games, while white shorts are worn in away games.
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. White away shorts are worn when this guernsey is used.
Clash Guernsey (worn since 2023): This predominantly gold guernsey features a maroon Fitzroy lion on a gold background (reminiscent of the Bears' first guernsey), with a maroon yoke and golden cuffs. The same shorts as the Away Guernsey are worn.
The Lion's Mascot Manor representative and club mascot was Bernie "Gabba" Vegas until 2016 when Roy the Lion (named Roy after the nickname for Fitzroy fans) replaced him as mascot. In 2021 the club unveiled their Lioness mascot Auroara.
The club's team song, "The Pride of Brisbane Town", is based on the Fitzroy Football Club song written by ex-Fitzroy player Bill Stephen, and is sung to the music of "La Marseillaise", the French national anthem. 
Between 1997 and 2022, the club trained out of the Gabba during the football season. The club's administrative and indoor training facilities were also located in the stadium. Due to the cricket season in the summer which is during the off-season for the Lions, the club was required to train at alternative locations over the years, this has included the University of Queensland campus, Leyshon Park in Yeronga, Giffin Park in Coorparoo, Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex in Burpengary and elsewhere, meaning the club lacked a dedicated and permanent home year-round. In 2020 the club announced that it would move its training and administrative facilities into Springfield Central Stadium (known for ground-sponsorship purposes as Brighton Homes Arena), an 8,000-capacity high-class facility in Ipswich that enables the club to base itself in the single location and play reserve-grade and AFLW matches at the one location. The Lions moved into the facility in October 2022.
Pre-1996, Fitzroy and Collingwood were fierce local rivals for over 100 years, sharing a suburban boundary down Smith Street, Melbourne, and both clubs topping the premiership tally in the early days of the VFL.  The bad blood between The Bears and Collingwood began in 1993 after top draft pick Nathan Buckley walked out on them and went to the Magpies after playing only a single season in Brisbane. Buckley was adamant that the move was the right career direction, with the belief he had more chance of winning a premiership elsewhere.  However the rivalry between the Lions and the Magpies was properly ignited in late 1999 when Collingwood played their last ever 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. 
Gold Coast Suns
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 the game establishing the highest pay TV audience ever for an AFL game, with a total of 354,745 viewers watching the game.
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. 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".
The Port Adelaide Football Club entered the AFL in 1997 after Fitzroy's AFL operations were merged with Brisbane. Supporters of Fitzroy and the Brisbane Bears were aggrieved about Port's entry having taken place under these circumstances.
In their early days, the two clubs could not be separated and had multiple close encounters, with a draw in two of their first three meetings. In the early 2000s, the rivalry reached its peak as the two clubs would be the most dominant of the era, consistently finishing at the top of the ladder. Between 2001 and 2004, the clubs met each other in the 2001 Ansett Australia Cup Grand Final, a 2001 qualifying final, a 2002 preliminary final and the 2004 Grand Final. Other notable encounters from this period include a round 22 match in 2002 to determine the minor premiership that year, which Port Adelaide won by a single goal, and a round 17 match in 2003 with 7 lead changes in the final quarter, which Port Adelaide won by a point.
|Australian Football League||Seniors||3||2001, 2002, 2003|
|Queensland Australian Football League (1998–2010)||Reserves||1||2001|
|North East Australian Football League (2011–2019)||4||2012, 2013, 2017, 2019|
|Victorian Football League (2021–)||0||Nil|
|Other titles and honours|
|AFL pre-season competition||Seniors||1||2013|
|Australian Football League||Minor premiership
|Grand Finalist||2||2004, 2023|
|Wooden spoons||2||1998, 2017|
|AFL Women's||Minor premiership||2||2017, 2022 (S7)|
|Grand Finalist||3||2017, 2018, 2022 (S7)|
Team of the Decade
In June 2006, to recognise ten years since the creation of the Brisbane Lions, a Team of the Decade was announced.
Hall of Fame
|Name||Year inducted as inductee||Year inducted as legend||Reference||Hall of Fame profile|
|Haydn Bunton Sr.||N/A||2012||||Profile|
|Alastair Lynch||1997–2000 (co-captain)|
|Michael Voss||1997–2000 (co-captain)
2001–2006 (sole captain)
|Simon Black||2007–2008 (co-captain)|
|Jonathan Brown||2007–2008 (co-captain)
2009–2012 (sole captain)
|Chris Johnson||2007 (co-captain)|
|Nigel Lappin||2007–2008 (co-captain)|
|Luke Power||2007–2008 (co-captain)|
|Jed Adcock||2013 (co-captain)
2014 (sole captain)
|Lachie Neale||2023– (co-captain)|
|Harris Andrews||2023– (co-captain)|
|Emma Zielke||2017–2018, 2020–2021||AFLW premiership captain: 2021|
|Breanna Koenen||2022 (S6)–present|
Match records (men's)
- Biggest winning margin: 141 points – 29.15 (189) vs. Adelaide 6.12 (48), the Gabba, 24 July 2004
- Biggest losing margin: 139 points – 7.5 (47) vs. St Kilda 28.18 (186), Docklands Stadium, 27 August 2005
- Highest score: 29.15 (189) vs. Adelaide, the Gabba, 24 July 2004
- Lowest score: 2.5 (17) vs. Richmond, Melbourne Cricket Ground, 14 April 2018
- Highest score conceded: 28.18 (186) vs. St Kilda, Docklands Stadium, 27 August 2005
- Lowest score conceded: 3.10 (28) vs. Essendon, Carrara Stadium, 31 July 2020
- Highest aggregate score: 293 points – Brisbane Lions 25.21 (171) vs. Fremantle 19.8 (122), the Gabba, 29 April 2001
- Lowest aggregate score: 76 points – Brisbane Lions 6.6 (42) vs. Collingwood 5.4 (34), the Gabba, 4 September 2020
- Most goals in a match: Jonathan Brown, ten goals vs. Carlton, the Gabba, 22 July 2007
Biggest home crowds
|Rank||Crowd||Round, Season||Result||Opponent||Brisbane Lions||Opposition||Margin||Venue||Day/Night/Twilight|
|1||37,478||QF2, 2019||Loss||Richmond||8.17 (65)||18.4 (112)||−47||The Gabba||Night|
|2||37,224||15, 2005||Win||Collingwood||19.19 (133)||7.13 (55)||+78||The Gabba||Night|
|3||37,032||PF2, 2001||Win||Richmond||20.16 (136)||10.8 (68)||+68||The Gabba||Night|
|4||36,803||4, 2003||Win||Collingwood||14.11 (95)||11.15 (81)||+14||The Gabba||Night|
|5||36,780||2, 2010||Win||Carlton||16.11 (107)||12.16 (88)||+19||The Gabba||Night|
|6||36,467||3, 2004||Win||Collingwood||21.11 (137)||12.5 (77)||+60||The Gabba||Night|
|7||36,197||1, 2003||Win||Essendon||14.20 (104)||8.13 (61)||+43||The Gabba||Night|
|8||36,149||10, 2001||Win||Essendon||15.12 (102)||10.14 (74)||+28||The Gabba||Night|
|9||36,077||17, 2005||Win||Essendon||17.12 (114)||14.17 (101)||+13||The Gabba||Night|
|10||36,020||QF2, 2023||Win||Port Adelaide||19.9 (123)||11.9 (75)||+48||The Gabba||Night|
AFL finishing positions (1997–present)
Legend: Premiers, Wooden spoon
|Finishing Position||Year (Finals in Bold)||Tally|
|Premiers||2001, 2002, 2003||3|
|4th||1999, 2020, 2022||3|
|5th||2000, 2019, 2021||3|
|13th||2006, 2010, 2012||3|
|15th||2011, 2014, 2018||3|
|Senior list||Rookie list||Coaching staff|
|Former name(s)||Suncoast Lions (2004–2011)|
|Former nickname(s)||Lion Cubs|
|Founded||1998 (as a reserves side)|
|Competition||Victorian Football League|
|Ground(s)||Springfield Central Stadium|
In the inaugural year of the Brisbane Lions (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. Reserves players not on an AFL list cannot be called up to the AFL team, they must first be drafted into the AFL.
Between 1998 and 2010 the club's reserves team participated in the QAFL, where it was initially known as the "Lion Cubs". The club won their first reserve-grade premiership in 2001 when they defeated the Southport Sharks in the QAFL Grand Final. In 2004, they began to compete as the Suncoast Lions Football Club. The side played home matches at the Gabba (as a curtain raiser game for Brisbane Lions matches) and, formerly, at the Fishermans Road football complex on the Sunshine Coast.
In 2011, the team moved to the multi-state North East Australian Football League (NEAFL), where they won four premierships − 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
Since 2023, the side has played reserves matches at Springfield Central Stadium.
|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||Competition||W–L–D||Ladder position||Finals result||Coach|
|2006||John Blakey/Daryn Cresswell|
|2012||14–4–0||2/10||Northern Conference Premiers|
|2013||16–2–0||1/10||Northern Conference Premiers
|2020||Season cancelled due to COVID-19|
|2023||13–4–1||4/21||Preliminary finalists||Ben Hudson|
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
- While the finals result is unknown, it is known the team were 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. The Brisbane Lions were granted a licence on 15 June 2016, becoming one of eight teams to compete in the league's first season. Former AFL Queensland employee Breeanna Brock was appointed to the position of Women's CEO the following day.
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. 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.
Former Collingwood and Brisbane Bears player and AFL Queensland coach Craig Starcevich was appointed the team's inaugural head coach in June 2016. 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. Car company Hyundai, along with Epic Pharmacy, sponsored the team in 2017.
The Lions have been a successful team in the AFLW, reaching the finals in six of the first seven seasons. They narrowly lost grand finals in 2017, 2018, and 2022 (S7), and only missed out on finals in 2019. Due to 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 finally broke through to win their first premiership by defeating arch-rival Adelaide in the grand final.
The team plays their home games at Springfield Central Stadium in Ipswich.
|Senior list||Rookie list||Coaching staff|
|Breeanna Brock||Chief Executive Officer|
|Zachary Zropf||Football Analyst|
|Alex Gorman||Sports Psychologist|
|Michael Swann||Wellbeing Mentor|
|Matt Green||High Performance Manager|
|Alice Walker||Head of Medical|
|Abbey Le Busque||Head Trainer|
|Brisbane AFLW honour roll|
|Season||Ladder||W–L–D||Finals||Coach||Captain(s)||Best and fairest||Leading goal kicker|
|2017||1st||6–0–1||Runners-up||Craig Starcevich||Emma Zielke||Emily Bates||Kate McCarthy (9)|
|2018||2nd||4–3–0||Runners-up||Craig Starcevich||Emma Zielke||Kate Lutkins||Jess Wuetschner (13)|
|2019||9th ^||2–5–0||DNQ||Craig Starcevich||Leah Kaslar||Ally Anderson||Jess Wuetschner (8)|
|2020||7th ^||3–2–1||Qualifying final||Craig Starcevich[a]||Emma Zielke||Emily Bates||Jesse Wardlaw (9)|
|2021||2nd||7–2–0||Premiers||Craig Starcevich||Emma Zielke||Ally Anderson||Dakota Davidson (16)|
|2022 (S6)||3rd||8–2–0||Preliminary final||Craig Starcevich||Breanna Koenen||Emily Bates||Greta Bodey (13)|
|2022 (S7)||1st||9–1–0||Runners-up||Craig Starcevich||Breanna Koenen||Emily Bates||Jesse Wardlaw (22)|
^ 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.
Brisbane Lions Academy
The Brisbane Lions Academy, consisting of the club's junior development signings. It was formed in 2010 as one of four Northern AFL Academies including the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Sydney Swans Academy and GWS Giants Academy.
28 staff (including 3 full time) manage 220 selected underage players from age 12 up.
The men's and women's U16 and U18 teams have contested Division 2 of the men's and women's underage championships since 2017. The Under 16 women's was crowned inaugural champions in 2023.
The Lions Academy also joined the Talent League in 2019.
Some of the Academy's most notable male players include the Brisbane Lions senior AFL players Harris Andrews, Ben Keays, Eric Hipwood, Keidean Coleman, Jack Payne, Jaspa Fletcher and Matthew Hammelmann. It also includes players who went on to other clubs : Mabior Chol, Noah Cumberland, Wylie Buzza, Samson Ryan and Will Martyn. Academy members who went on to excel in other sports include Kalyn Ponga and Corey Horsburgh. Notable female academy players include Brisbane Lions senior AFLW players Mikayla Pauga, Sophie Conway and Gabby Collingwood.
- Wikipedia listing of Brisbane Lions players
- Merrett–Murray Medal
- Australian rules football in Queensland
- Sport in Queensland
- Sport in Australia
- Brisbane Broncos
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- How the northern football academies work By Michael Whiting on Feb 18, 2015
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