As 2021 draws to a close, I wanted to reach out again and provide a brief update on happenings around the Club.
Our AFLW Premiership was a clear highlight of 2021, for our women to be successful in their third grand final was very well deserved. In recent weeks, there was further recognition with the team being a finalist in the Queensland Sport Awards ‘Team of the Year’ category. At the same awards Breeanna Brock was named a finalist in the Administrator of the Year category and Craig Starcevich in the Coach of the Year category. Congratulations to them all.
Another top four finish at the end of the home and away season was a great effort by our men’s team. Unfortunately, not much went our way in the finals with injuries to key players in both our finals. Although we have now made the finals three seasons in a row, everyone at the club is aware that we need to be progressing deeper into the finals to be successful. We should not lose sight of the fact that our list is still relatively young and with three years of finals experience under their belt I know the team are desperate for next season to start and will be working hard to prove they are capable of going deep into the finals.
We welcome a host of new players to our club. In the AFLW we welcome Maggie Harmer, Bella Smith, Mikayla Pauga, Lucinda Pullar, Luka Yoshida Martin and Phoebe Monahan. In the men’s team we welcome Darcy Fort, Darcy Wilmot, Kai Lohmann and James Tunstill. All of our new players have now had the opportunity to spend some time training with their new teammates and have settled in well. Both our lists are relatively healthy with Cam Rayner, Eric Hipwood and Lily Postlethwaite all progressing well with their rehabilitation.
Fixtures have been released for both our teams with the AFLW season commencing for us on Sunday 9 January 2022 in Perth against West Coast. The men will commence on 19 March 2022 at the Gabba against Port Adelaide.
With the timing of the AFLW season this year and the competing commitments of Brisbane based grounds suitable for elite AFL, we will be playing our AFLW home games at Maroochydore for this coming season. I understand it is a bit of a trek for our Brisbane based supporters, but we have a number of Saturday afternoon games where supporters might find it attractive to watch the match and spend the weekend at the Sunshine Coast. It is also a great opportunity for our supporters based around the Sunshine Coast to see the AFLW in action. The following season, Brighton Homes Arena at Springfield will be ready for our AFLW team to finally move into their permanent home.
In the men’s fixture we have some great games at the Gabba to look forward to with games including clashes against Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Essendon, Carlton and Melbourne, as well as the Easter Thursday clash against Collingwood. Like our Melbourne based members we were disappointed to only be allocated 5 games in Victoria. While the games we have are high quality games being against Melbourne, Essendon, Geelong, Richmond and St Kilda we appreciate our Melbourne members would like more games in Melbourne. We will continue to work with the AFL to try and address this in the future. The make up of the competition has changed since the original merger agreement meaning more games need to be played against teams not based in Victoria. However, we continue to be allocated games against Victorian teams either outside of Victoria or in past seasons in regional Victoria, such as Ballarat. Playing these games in Melbourne seems to be the obvious opportunity for the AFL to increase our Melbourne games.
It has been a strong year for the Brisbane Lions off the field. We have completed our 2021 financial year and achieved an operating profit of approximately $2.9 million before grant and fundraising income. This continues our strong financial performance in recent years. Our financial plan to be able to complete our Springfield development and then meaningfully reduce our debt position over the next few years remains on track.
Youi have joined XL Express as a Major Partner of the Club. Youi will replace Neds on the playing jumper, however Neds will remain as a Major Support Partner of the Club. Neds became a Major Partner of the Club at a time when an existing Major Partner was unable to honour their obligations and we thank Neds for all the support they provided us. I encourage all of you to support our partner’s businesses. And I thank Youi for increasing their support of the Club by moving from Coaches Partner to Major Partner.
We also welcome Swyftx to the Lions family who have replaced Youi as Coaches Partner.
Progress at Brighton Homes Arena remains strong. We expect the facility to be completed by early in the second half of 2022, hopefully around September. If that is the case, we will move our Club operations there in October 2022 after the end of the men’s 2022 season and before the AFLW 2022/23 season starts. There is still some fundraising to be done to ensure we are able to fit out the venue and change rooms in a manner that will give our teams the optimum chance of success, we will be sharing some initiatives on this with our members in the new year.
The oval at Brighton Homes Arena will be known as Michael Voss Oval. Michael was a player who played much of his junior football in Queensland and went onto become an AFL great, captaining our Club to three premierships, winning a Brownlow Medal and of course coaching our Club. It is fitting that we can recognise Michael in this way.
Our membership campaign for next year is progressing well. At the time of writing this we have reached 26,508 members, which puts us 9,282 members ahead of the same time last year. We are very grateful for the continued support of our members.
VALE ARTHUR WILSON
We were all very sorry that Arthur Wilson passed away in November this year. Arthur was 90 at the time of his passing and many of those years had been spent in service of Fitzroy and then the Brisbane Lions in one form or another. Arthur filled many important administrative roles at Fitzroy over the years and a number of legends of the game were recruited into the then VFL by Arthur.
Following the 1996 merger that formed the Brisbane Lions, Arthur worked tirelessly to preserve and maintain Fitzroy’s rich heritage, culminating in the establishment of the Lions Museum at Marvel Stadium. The Museum is in a room at Marvel Stadium which is now known as the Arthur Wilson room. Arthur was admitted into the Lions Hall of Fame in 2016. While Arthur loved Fitzroy, he also recognised the need to look forward and embraced the Brisbane Lions, which we are forever grateful for.
As much as football clubs have necessarily become professional organisations, all clubs still need people like Arthur Wilson who have a passion for their Club and work incredibly hard to make the Club better. In doing so, they inevitably make the Communities they are part of better places too.
Our condolences to Arthur’s wife Barbara, sons Ken and Bruce and family and friends.
Predicting what might happen over the course of 2022 seems almost pointless given the unexpected trials and tribulations of the last 2 years. But we hope that as we become used to living in a Covid impacted world, more of you will be able to again enjoy seeing the mighty Lions live and if that isn’t possible, that our Lions teams can still bring you some joy through our performances.
We go into 2022 with both our teams believing they have the ability to be highly competitive again and the Club in good shape off the field, so lets hope 2022 is a successful year.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a safe and happy Christmas and hope you get to spend time relaxing with family and friends.
For all our members and supporters, I want to thank you for your amazing support throughout 2021 and wish you a safe and happy Holiday season.