By Lee Hugh McGowan

Brisbane is a city where fleeting greatness too frequently spills into something bigger, where legendary status can be achieved on the purchase of the next round of schooners and a bronzed statue of your favourite local star is stood at the end of your street before the final whistle of their retirement match. I exaggerate of course – about the statues. This is a city familiar, rife, with sporting team success. The Lions’ Matthews and Brown and the Broncos’ Bennett, Tallis, and Lockyer would be and are endlessly pestered, pointed at and whispered about.

It is not so remarkable that Ange Postecoglou and his Brisbane Roar have become the Hyundai A-League’s first side to take back-to-back competitions. They’ve played the most fluid and easiest football to watch in the League’s history. Les Murray described them in even more glowing terms. What is remarkable is that hardly anyone outside of football has taken notice.

Maybe the taste of round ball football needs more time to mature here. It might be the threat its popularity poses. The brethren codes are certainly guilty of looking at the round ball game as a minor distraction from pre-season training and warm-up rounds, a reason for a mining magnate to bark at the moon, but the Roar are demanding the kind of attention that should lead to permanent distraction. Between two Grand Final wins they broke the all-Australian football code record of 36 consecutive games without defeat, yet, in Brisbane media terms, they cannot compete.

They play with commitment, grace, and a vampiric thirst for the win. Their two goals in the last minutes of the Grand Final have been dismissed simply as a regular (if controversial) occurrence. ‘They play till the end’. They’ve done it lots of times before. It’s not soccer kinesiology or simply a matter of team dynamics – though these factors may play their part. Some teams would have rested on the two-goal advantage the Roar took to Blue Tongue stadium in the semi-final. Others, let’s take Perth Glory for example, might have dug in and snarled and bit as they fearfully defended their turf. Under Ange’s guidance the Roar chose to maintain an irresistible level of quality. Despite his genius in getting the best from players, his ability to mastermind results in places like Korea, and his articulate and intelligent television manner, Postecoglou can wander into Davide’s, my favourite Italian bakers, without being recognised, without the hush of reverence. His achievements are recognised elsewhere. The ABC’s Offsiders is a good example, but in this town, where two seasons ago you could get as many Queensland Reds tickets as you could carry, and then couldn’t move at their first home game of the current season, it strikes me the Roar might only ever achieve greatness within their own choir. It would be hard to do what he has and see it ignored.

Postecoglou turned a German journeyman with tidy feet into a playmaker, a Brazilian understudy into a wing-heeled attacking forward and a growling Albanian international into a Golden Boot winner and that’s on top of selling Matt McKay, and other pieces of the family silver, last summer.  In any other sport his name would be in lights. They already are in the hearts of growing numbers of Roar fans. He leaves a strong foundation for his successor, a team worth taking over. I suspect he might want to take personnel with him and I would grudge it, but I do not grudge him a move to a city where his efforts will be appropriately recognised.

Coaches never get statues, I know this. I wouldn’t like the idea of a bronzed Ange with his hands on his hips and his belly between, but I’d like more of Brisbane to acknowledge what has occurred in the shadow of the town’s other codes. A local team put a meaningful dent in the national sporting landscape and too many people missed it.



  1. Dennis Gedling says

    People have to remember too that his reputation had been completely destroyed from his time in charge of the Under 20 national side too so that makes his achievements at the Roar all the more great. He went in there and made hard decisions by getting rid of the old guard and installing what would ultimately be the style that won them those two titles.

  2. More than his reputation will be on the line at the Victory. I wonder if he’ll get the chance or time to bed in his ethos the way he did at the Roar.

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