Almanac Summer – Footy History: A Bear is Born

The Brisbane Bears were constructed in the mid-1980s. Their first season was 1987.


Those Carrara days were classic.


Sit back and enjoy the memories. And add yours.



About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. I love that Doug Heywood called the first game (with Tim Lane).

  2. Andrew Weiss says

    One of the best memories I have of the Brisbane Bears playing at a Carrara was the 1988 game when they played Footscray. Siomn Beasley takes a mark on the siren needing a goal to win the match. There were about 10 Bears players on the mark with some Bears players on the shoulders of others to stand the mark. The crowd is running out onto the field while Beasley is trying to shoot for goal and then the massive celebration when he misses. See the video on the link below and enjoy.

  3. Changed the rules re. players on another’s shoulders after that incident. It’s brilliant. Was lucky enough to transcribe Matt Zurbo’s interview of Mark Mickan for Champions All. Paints a rather amusing picture of a team being run on the fly – no training facilities or ground, Skase’s interesting management style and instructions that certain players must be selected each week, regardless of form. A lot has been said lately about the advantage or otherwise that expansion teams had entering the league. Little said about how for the most part they had a couple of months to form and build from scratch without any facilities. Those early Bears teams did remarkably well given all their disadvantages.

  4. Look forward to watching this. My memories…a lot of ex-Eagles players up there pretty quickly Zanotti, Gastev, Ishchenko. Brad Hardie playing as an opportunist forward (& a bloody good one at that). Beating the great Hawthorn team towards the end of 1989, when they won 5 from 7 games under Paul Feltham. Never understood why he was sacked for Norm Dare?

  5. Mike Richardson sitting on a teammates shoulders while Simon Beasley was having a sot at goal to win the game after the siren at Carrara.

  6. oops, shot at goal

  7. sorry, just saw the video & comment above

  8. What a shame that the history segment focuses on Victoria…
    so Melbourne-centric reflecting a real lack of knowledge on the part of the producers.
    And perhaps more disappointingly, a lack of will or even sense to do the research

    Murray Bird shows that the first game of football played in Queensland was in 1866 in a match organised by the Brisbane Football Club. See his book – Athenians and Red Invincibles: The Origins of Queensland Football (2015) for more details.

    Any VFL/AFL narrative on the history of the game starts with their arrival…
    in this case in 1987 with the Brisbane Bears

  9. Hardly surprising Dr Rocket, the VFL/AFL has tried to pretend the competition that it evolved from, the VFA, didn’t ever exist, eg not one member of the Hall of Fame (other than Frank Johnson whose years at South Melbourne got him over the line) and premiership flags not being included in clubs tallies, despite Geelong’s best efforts.

  10. I sent thru to Sticks Phillips and then gave him a ring I said it was a Brenton Phillips highlights tape,Sticks said he had his,Brownlow speech prepared after round 1 ! ( good bloke,Sticks ) and Neil Hein will have a look tonight Phil Walsh being in the tape is emotional as well

  11. Nope, can’t watch. Still too painful…

  12. jan courtin says

    The song brings back great memories – especially …” a bear will growl across the land…” in that catchy tune.

    I’d forgotten that the players had to read the words from their sheets when singing the song!

    And Carrara – wonderful memories, especially that first win on home turf. I was there!

    And I’d almost forgotten the sound of Bobby Skilton commentating.

    In retrospect it all seemed and sounded like 1950s, instead of a mere 30 years ago. Well, to me, 30 years ago isn’t that long ago!

  13. Too true Gerry!

    They have successfully expunged the VFA from history.

    Fully agree – all current AFL clubs that played in the VFA prior to the VFL should list their premierships.

    Most country, suburban and amateur clubs list premierships won in different leagues over the years.

  14. Stephen Reynoldson, Bruce Reid, just some of the legends that wore the Brisbane Bears jumper in that period that seems to have been air brushed out of our history.


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