QClash stunt enough to make you QEasy

The media alert was mysterious, intriguing and enticing. The CEOs and captains of the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast Suns were going to make a joint ‘major announcement’ ahead of their NAB challenge match.

Luckily, journalists had to endure only one sleepless night before they found out what this major announcement was. Could the two clubs be launching a court challenge to overturn the AFL’s new interchange rule? Perhaps they would unveil a new code of sexual conduct, under which their players pledged to remain celibate until they either married or retired?

No, the momentous announcement was that AFL matches between the two clubs would be known as the Queensland Clash, or QClash for short.

QClashes, we were told, were to become “the AFL’s latest instalment of intra-state rivalry,” alongside the South Australian ‘showdowns’ and Western Australian ‘derbies’.

So why the title? “We wanted a name that embodied Queensland, one that was unique and simple,” Lions CEO Malcolm Holmes said.

“Speaking to the coaches and players, there is no doubt that both teams want to win whenever we come together, and the QClash will be a real battle for state pride.”

Lions captain Jonathan Brown was quoted as saying that the players “have been talking about these games for months. We’re Queensland’s first AFL team and the boys will be looking to win every QClash.”

Suns captain Gary Ablett Jnr was just as effusive. “Even though I’m a relatively new resident of Queensland, I know the excitement and anticipation that fans feel towards big rivalry matches. I can’t wait to play in the first QClash at the Gabba,” he is quoted as saying.

And how long did it take the marketing geniuses to flesh out the QClash concept? Gold Coast CEO Travis Auld said the Lions and the Suns “have been working together for over six months” to ensure the matches “are a fantastic experience for members and fans of both teams as well as a real talking point for the general community.”

So there you have it: chalk up another triumph of spin over substance. And it only took them six months.

Someone needs to tell these clubs that rivalries are not made, they are born. They are based on history, enmity and prejudice. They are organic; you can’t manufacture them.

Declaring a rivalry and giving it a name doesn’t make it so, and Jonathan Brown and Gary Ablett would probably say as much, if they were allowed to.

OK, so an Adelaide brewery was behind the original ‘showdown’ moniker in South Australia, but Port supporters already had a string of reasons for hating Adelaide, starting with the Crows gaining admission to the AFL six seasons before them. They didn’t need a title to encapsulate their venom.

And generations of Collingwood, Carlton, Richmond and Melbourne supporters didn’t have to be told why they hated each others’ guts – they just did.

Not that all rivalries have to be old: Kevin Sheedy managed to spark one all on his own when he famously waved his jacket after the Dons narrowly beat West Coast at the MCG in 1993.

The QClash title is not only disingenuous, it is also lazy. Both teams have caught the Queensland disease of placing the letter ‘Q’ in front of any new initiative. Google ‘Q’ and ‘Queensland’ and you’ll see that everything from motorcycle training to superannuation in the sunshine state starts with it.

If the two clubs really wanted to build a rivalry, why not base it on the Suns’ generous salary cap concessions, or their signing of disaffected or out of contract Lions players such as Jared Brennan and Michael Rischitelli? You can bet both of these factors will be used as the real motivators in the Lions’ locker room.

What they call these contests won’t matter – fans will either turn up to watch the two Queensland teams play each other, or they won’t. A far more accurate determinate of crowd support will be the relative strengths of the two sides, what happens on the field and the score line after their first two or three meetings.

The irony is that the Lions and the Suns and their respective fans probably will develop a strong rivalry over coming years. But it won’t be because some marketing guru told them they had to.

About Robert Allen

Robert is a football history tragic who lives in Brisbane with his three children and a ginger cat named Thomas O'Malley. He recently completed a biography of Roy Cazaly, in which he endeavoured to avoid what Gideon Haigh has called the two facets of most Australian sports biographies: cut-and-paste and tongue-in-bum.

Comments

  1. johnharms says:

    Absolutely Rob. Up there with the ‘Prepare to Scream’ campaign of Cricket Australia. The funny thing is if they were totally honest about this they would know that this IS the birth of a natural rivalry. In terms of historical theory – that your neighbour is likely to be your enemy (see the alliances of Europe c1900). And in terms of footy. This rivalry has substance – just a matter of whether the marketers find it, or are willing to embrace this type of rivalry. Because this is the battle for the wooden spoon, and also for bragging rights. And it may have commercial ramifications. If the Lions are in decline and the Suns are on the rise, that surely is grounds for a the sort of organic rivalry you talk about Rob. That’s among fans. The presence of a few ex-Lions may spice up the contest as well. But I reckon G. Ablett will have to have a blinder for the Suns to get close.

  2. Phantom says:

    Is it true that Bananarama are doing the pre-match entertainment or can’t they afford them these days?

  3. Mulcaster says:

    “Declaring a rivalry and giving it a name doesn’t make it so”, absolutely.
    In order to get a real rivaly there needs to bew a sense of grievance and there is none.

  4. johnharms says:

    I think there is a small sense of grievance: that the Suns even exists. Massive commercial pressure on the Lions at the moment.

  5. Peter Flynn says:

    Punters,

    Turn on a news channel.

    Big announcement coming from Obama about Osama.

  6. #5:

    If it’s news from Obama
    Of the death of Osama
    Will that make our world
    Just a little bit calmer?

  7. Answer to #6. No, not while the Collingwood machine keeps marching.

  8. Phantom says:

    Obarma’s tongue in cheek video of his birth was quite good. The opening scene from the Lion King. Some one sure got Trumped.

  9. P.S. There goes my dream of getting that group snapshot of Obama, Osama, Wendy Harmer, Polly Farmer, Scott Palmer and the Dalai Lama.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says:

    You are hilarious Gigs.

  11. Mick Jeffrey says:

    QClash is so ridiculous, the AFL should realise that it sounds like something that is a Qantas product (the airline that they dumped this year). The Sunshine Stoush sounds so much better it isn’t funny.

  12. Andrew Else says:

    It’s still got The Eureka Clash covered…

  13. Peter Flynn says:

    Prefer Spike Milligan’s Q.

  14. I wonder what Mick Jones thinks about it?

  15. Mulcaster says:

    #4 JTH I find it a little hard to take the “Briso” vs Gold Coast thing seriously.
    It is not like they are so different from each other anyway.
    A Briso is absically a skegg with a hair cut.
    I just don’t see the basis for a rivalry.
    Particularly as the Gold Coast is for the most part a team of blow-ins anyway.
    I don’t doubt what you say about the commercial pressure on Brisbane, but that is at a club level rather than a fan level.

  16. johnharms says:

    That country set in the camel grass: Q8

  17. Ian Syson says:

    How about the transplant tussle?

  18. Pamela Sherpa says:

    I expect the rivalry will develop between the Lions and Suns.There is already resentment towards the Suns so it should be quite interesting -especially if the Suns upset the Lions!!!

  19. Ian Syson says:

    The ‘rivalry’ as represented in the Age today seems so fabricated it’s laughable. The ‘We had to struggle to get established, while the Suns are being spoon fed’ line doesn’t convince me.

  20. Sydney Malakellis says:

    As it’s in Queensland, it should be called The Battle Royale1 Last man not thrown over the top turnbuckle wins! I’m tipping J. Brown. He’d give Andre The Giant a run for his money…

  21. Adam Muyt says:

    I just want 4 points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Dave Nadel says:

    It didn’t take long for the clubs to find a way to turn their plastic marketing engineered rivalry into something more real and more nasty.

    First there was Simon Black’s extraordinary description of Brennan and Rischitelli as mercenaries. The chutzpa of this comment is unbelievable. At the end of the 2009 season the Lions tried to swap Rischitelli to Carlton in exchange for Fevola. Rischitelli refused to return to Melbourne. He was one of the few Brisbane players to show much in the 2100 season and won the Club’s award. He left the club two days before he won his award. He had shown the Lions far more loyalty than the Lions had shown him. And Black calls him a mercenary!!!

    Guy McKenna, in the process of defending his players, bagged Brisbane as the “Bad News Bears” and referred to their poor history in the Skase/Pelerman years. McKenna claimed that the Suns were rescuing football on the Gold Coast from the poor reputation that the Bears had left. This was both big noting the Suns and something of a slander on the Bears.

    Former Bears coach, Robert Walls launched into McKenna in today’s Age. He pointed out that the Bears had had very little help from the VFL/AFL in the early days and had eventually built up credibility under very difficult circumstances. Walls was defending the careers of first Bears coach Peter Knights and early club stalwarts Roger Merrett, Michael McLean, Scott McIvor, Martin Leslie and Johnny Gastev. He was fairly obviously also miffed on his own behalf. He did not try to defend the private owners of the Bears whose actions, particularly Skase and Cronin’s, were indefensible.

    Walls also pointed out that not only have the Suns had major financial and draft assistance from the AFL, but that McKenna’s previous experience as a player in the 90s at West Coast and a coach in the 00s at Collingwood was at wealthy (and well run) clubs and he wouldn’t have the first idea of the problems that the Bears faced in their early years. I have just heard on the ABC News that Voss has chimed in attacking McKenna’s comments.

    Well, the marketing men have their “rivalry” for tomorrow’s match. I doubt however that has done much for football in Queensland or the dignity of the game.

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