From now on every loss just makes it harder for Voss

By Sasha Lennon

As a Victorian living in Brisbane, Saturday night’s inaugural ‘Q-Clash’ between the hapless Brisbane Lions and the exuberant Gold Coast Suns was a mouth-watering affair.

But for Lions coach Michael Voss, I imagine the result left a particularly foul taste.

Voss must be nervous.  A Brownlow medallist, three-time premiership-winning captain and without argument one of the AFL’s all-time greats, Vossy has had a terrible time of it as coach.

The Lions great was widely criticised in 2009 after abandoning an offer to be John Worsfold’s assistant at West Coast (an offer he had originally accepted) to take up the head coaching position at Brisbane.  

However, Vossy did lead the Lions to a semi-final that year, though some might argue that was just the after-effect of the great Leigh Matthews.

As the 2010 campaign began to fall apart, Vossy’s critics only got louder.  By season’s end the Lions finished 13th with seven wins and 15 losses.  Not good. 

Whether it was bravado, ignorance or inexperience, throughout that year Voss’s body language and a lot of what he had to say (to the media at least) reeked of arrogance. Poor recruiting decisions didn’t help his cause either (remember Brendan Fevola?).

Perhaps Voss had just become too used to nothing but success in football.  For the average punter, it looked like he simply couldn’t recognise underperformance or worse, failure.

In the stands at the Gabba, the once ever-happy-go-lucky Lions supporters were becoming visibly uneasy.  One could clearly sense the collective mood swing, the change in atmosphere pervasive.  And like the damp and repressive summer heat which helps define the flavour of this town, it was impossible to escape.

I have to admit, as a Hawthorn supporter who nonetheless quite likes the Lions, it was nice to see these ‘Brisbane’ supporters experience a sense of helpless disappointment and that uneasy feeling of not knowing if and when your team will rise again.

Rumblings were even heard from the Lions’ den but despite this, Brisbane was always going to persist with its favourite son throughout 2010 no matter what the final win/loss ratio was.

Towards the end of last year, the Lions commissioned a review of its football department, followed by the implementation of many of the recommendations that were made in an effort to re-build the club.

But so far, it doesn’t look to be working (although Voss does appear to have lost his unwavering arrogance, replacing it with a keener sense of humility).

The Brisbane Lions sit on the bottom of the ladder with a 0-6 start to the season, a season thus far characterised by lacklustre and directionless football.

Taking nothing away from the Gold Coast Suns, who despite their obvious inexperience were a pleasure to watch, Saturday night’s result underlined just where the Lions are at right now.  Vossy’s decision to persist with Daniel Merrett at full-forward despite a gaping hole in Brisbane’s defence did nothing for his coaching credibility.

Voss will have his tenure at Brisbane reviewed at or towards the end of this season.  According to reports in the Courier-Mail, Lions Chairman Angus Johnson is (sensibly) providing Voss with no guarantees beyond this season until then.  He stressed that despite Saturday night’s loss to the new kids on the block, the club would not be making any knee-jerk reactions regarding Voss’s future as coach.

The problem for Voss is, we’ve all heard that before and if things continue as they are, Brisbane’s favourite son could very well be out the door sooner rather than later.

I hope that doesn’t happen.  Ending Vossy’s reign at Stanley Street that way would leave a foul taste in anyone’s mouth. 

Sasha Lennon is a Brisbane-based Knacker whose writing can be found at


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    I just think that Voss’es recruiting of Fevola signaled the start of the end of his coaching career but I agree that I would be a humiliating end to this great player’s tenure at Brisbane and not the way I would want it to end.

  2. Alovesupreme says

    It’s possible to mount an argument that the unlucky loss to Fremantle in the opening round was this year’s key moment. With the loss of Brown, they have looked directionless since. This was particular notable in the loss to Richmond at the G, when they led for most of the game, without looking likely to complete the assignment.
    I agree with Peter S., it’s shaping like a sad end for a Brisbane great.

  3. lee donovan says

    It would be interesting to know just how much input Voss had in the recruiting of Fevola etc. A former manager now at GWS may have had a lot to do with it .Don’t be surprised if Voss escapes with his job and the assistants pay the price. Time will tell.

  4. I agree, the Fevola episode did some serious damage, not only to Voss and his reputation, but to the club as a whole. Why we persist with the Fevola’s of this world I don’t know.

  5. Shane Johnson says

    The Lions are paying for some very bad decisions and lack of real footy cred
    Tony Kelly who was next door neighbours with Vossy had blind faith in him and didnt do due diligence when Leigh resigned. He has since felt the heat in the kitchen and left when the going got tough an didnt show the required ticker

    Vossy should have done an apprenticeship. Gary O’Donnell has made a living for 13 years out of being an assistant coach and then will move into admin down the track. He has been very smart. He worked out after about 4 years he didnt want to be a head coach

    Vossy decision to appoint the universally unliked salesman Dan Collins was a grave error. Great people like Matthew Kennedy walked away beacuse of him in disgust.

    Gubby Allan had been applying for other jobs for about 3 years before the AFL handed him the gig at GWS. It wont work with him there. These days he is a property developer with an interest in footy.His great mistake amongst many was not taking Selwood before Leunenberger. I could go on and on there.

    Michael Bowers helped deliver the great new social club at Springwood but had become disliked across the board. Club communites became disenfranchised. Then there was Fevola, Bradshaw (his body was stuffed nearly then though) Rischitelli, Buchanen.
    That will do for now
    Makes you want to tear your hair out

    Some good appoinments have been made though. In 5 years with some smart drafting and retention of key players at all costs the club may start to come good but it is going to be a long road
    I afraid Vossy wont be part of that time when he could have been witha 3-5 year apprenticeship and then the messiah returning at the right time
    Paul Roos the ex Fitzroy champ should be chased at all costs

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