AFL Round 10 – Brisbane vs Collingwood: A decade is a long time in footy

It’s been a long time between Friday night games at the Gabba.

The last time Brisbane hosted a Friday night live, it was a balmy September night, the Lions were playing off for a third straight preliminary final spot and I would have done anything to see a Brisbane win.

Almost a decade later, the likes of Justin Leppitsch, Jason Akermanis and Alastair Lynch have been replaced by household names like Justin Clarke, Rohan Bewick and Ryan Lester and it’s a fair bit cooler than that September eve.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in all that time – I would still do pretty much anything to see the Lions win and a victory over Collingwood would be oh so sweet.

I wasn’t born hating Collingwood, but it comes surprisingly naturally to me, and on a rare Friday night with Alan Didak making his return, there would be no better way to kick off a Brisbane winter.

All week, I’ve felt like a kid in the lead-up to Christmas, except Friday night footy comes so much less frequently than once a year.

Even the fact that the team more than resembled to a Lions’ reserves outfit was not enough to dim my excitement.

The return of the Lions three-peat guernsey for the second time in three weeks has people talking of another boilover motivated by those names from the early noughties.

News of Travis Cloke’s man flu filters through during our pre-match beer, and suddenly my hopefulness turns to a steely optimism.

By the time Ben Reid kicks the Pies’ third to nil, the man behind me is defending his decision to stick by the Lions until the end of the game – and it’s only halfway through the first term.

Jack Redden shows some mongrel with a sensational rundown of Nick Maxwell, and Bewick gets the Lions off the mark.

But the highlights are few and far between and the anguish grows as the game goes on.

Missed tackles, panicked kicks, confusion reigns supreme, second only to the Pies.

The only person feeling the pain more than me is our fearless leader, Jonathan Brown, whose sloppy arm managed to rub him out for the biggest match of the year.

As his anxious face flashes up on the big screen, I was at least assured that at least one of the players wanted this as much as I did.

At half-time, I venture down to the trenches, behind the interchange bench, h oping for a slightly different view.

The conversation at the major break is more about the margin than the result, a far cry from the confidence of the last Gabba Friday night game.

As someone tells me they’ll be happy if the Lions get within 50, I can’t help but think of those days when teams would be lucky to get within 50 of the Lions.

In my search for an enlightened perspective,  the lights burned my eyes a little more but the sights provided me no peace of mind.

It’s almost a relief when Dids is subbed on, because it gives the crowd a small chance to air their frustrations on someone from the opposition.

There is a bit of fifth from Brisbane as the game wears on, but on the wrong end of an eight-goal margin, even the mystical Lions three-peat Guernsey can’t save us now.

Yes, they were under strength, Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury (and Jamie Ellitott, Paul Seedsman and Kyle Martin) go alright, but that doesn’t dull the pain.

It’s been a long decade since that last Friday night match, and I have rarely felt further away from those glory years than as “Side by Side” blares through the Gabba speakers.

Plenty of things may have changed about the Lions in the last 10 years, but the more things are different, it seems the more they stay the same.

2003: S Black 29D, 19K,10H, 4M, 1.3

2013: S Black 33D, 20K, 13H, 3M, 0.1


Brisbane Lions        1.1   2.4    5.6      7.9   (51)

Collingwood           5.3   9.7  12.14  14.16 (100)



Brisbane Lions: McGrath 3, Bewick, Staker, Redden, Paparone

Collingwood: Reid 3, Ellliott 2, Martin 2, Kennedy 2, Swan 2, Jolly, Thomas, Blair


Brisbane Lions: Black, Black, Black, Zorko, Redden

Collingwood: Swan, Seedsman, Pendlebury, Jolly, Macaffer, Elliott

Umpires: Nicholls, Findlay and Mollison

Crowd: 26,626

Our Votes:  (3) Swan (C),  2 Jolly (C), 1 Macaffer (C)


  1. Great article, Beth. But the Lions played the Magpies on a Friday night at the Gabba in 2009. Unfortunately we lost on that occasion, too :(

  2. Peter Schumacher says

    Really interesting stats regarding Simon Black

    I reckon that by that by end of 2003 we thought that the Lions had an almost divine right to be on top so the decline since has been a terrible disappointment.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    I’ve no particular interest in either team, so I wasn’t particular engaged in the match, merely kept an eye on the scores after I arrived home from Friday’s night big Melbourne event, the launch of Footy Town. However, I loved your observation about the peerless Simon Black, magnificent footballer, the more remarkable for his durability.

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