The Brisbane Lions were formed on 4 July, 1996, when the AFL approved a merger between the Brisbane Bears and the Fitzroy Lions. The club was officially launched on 1 November 1996 and joined the national competition in 1997.
It was the first union of two clubs in VFL/AFL history - the perfect combination of an emerging force, full of youthful enthusiasm and energy, with a proud foundation club, overloaded with history and tradition.
There was the Brisbane Bears, a vibrant newcomer to the national scene. Young and ambitious, they were just starting to find their feet in the ‘big time’ after a troubled 10-year infancy split between the Gold Coast and Brisbane but without the long-term backing to mount a serious challenge.
And there was Fitzroy, a traditional club of more than 100 years’ standing. They had fought the odds more often than most and won yet now, as financial pressures threatened to engulf them once and for all, they accepted a merger in preference to the extinction offered by a takeover elsewhere.
Individually the Bears and the Lions might both have struggled. But together they would grow to become a formidable force within the toughest sporting competition in Australia; a legitimate two-city team, with vibrant supporter bases in Brisbane and Melbourne that would rejoice in unison when the king of the jungle roared longest and loudest at the MCG on that one day in September.