There was a moment late in the third quarter of Thursday night’s Easter thriller at the Gabba when Brisbane Lions debutant Kai Lohmann chased down Collingwood veteran Jack Crisp in the middle of the ground to win a free kick. And then a 50m penalty.
It was like the exorcism of Dayne Beams. The final chapter of an eight-year story built around the Queenslander turned Collingwood premiership player turned Brisbane captain and club champion turned Collingwood early retiree/salary cap problem.
Because Crisp was part of what Brisbane, coached by Justin Leppitsch at the time, gave up to get Beams from Collingwood at the end of 2014. And Lohmann is part of what they got back for sending him back to Collingwood four years later.
It’s all part of a long and complicated trade/draft process that is finally at an end.
Initially, it was pick #5 and pick #25 in the 2014 draft plus Crisp for Beams and pick #67 when Beams decided he wanted to move to Brisbane to be near his unwell father.
Crisp, originally drafted from the Murray Bushrangers with rookie pick #40 in 2011, had played 18 games with the Lions from 2012-14. He was the proverbial ‘steak knives’ in the original trade, added late to get the deal over the line.
Now 28 and a senior figure in a young side rebuilding under ex-Lions star Craig McRae, Crisp has played 162 games in a row since joining the Magpies and won the Pies B&F last year.
When Beams decided he wanted to go back to Melbourne in 2018 Brisbane received pick #18, pick #56 and a future first-round pick for the 58-game midfielder and captain, plus pick #41 and #48. It was the last deal of the official trade period.
Pick #18 in the 2018 draft slid to #21 and became 21-year-old midfielder Ely Smith from the Murray Bushrangers, who is still knocking on the selection door of the now powerful Brisbane line-up. Pick #56, which slid still further back, was not used.
In a process so complicated that few outside list managers and others involved fully understand it, the future first-round pick Brisbane received in the Beams deal was traded each year until it became pick #20 in the 2021 draft – the final pick of the first round. Lohmann.
The electrifying small forward from Ballarat via the Greater Western Victoria Rebels was the second of the Lions’ three picks last November – after Darcy Wilmott from the Northern Knights at #16 and before James Tunstill from East Perth at #41.
From the same area as Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod and Tom Berry and Harry Sharp, Lohmann has done remarkably well at 18 to break into a near full-strength Brisbane side in Round 5 of the 2022 season.
And while his debut statistics on Thursday night of nine possessions, five tackles, one goal assist and 166m gained were not exactly earth-shattering he looked right at home at the level. And he played only 66% game time.
Importantly, he excelled in the part of his game that won him AFL selection after three games in the VFL. Forward line pressure. Only McCluggage (6) and Oscar McInerney (6) had more tackles.
Understanding that no one part of any trade can be judged in isolation (and allowing for a little hometown bias), Lions fans will see it as a win. And judging by the warm reception the blonde high—flyer received at the Gabba Thursday night they’ve taken to him already.
Lohmann was something of a surprise when picked at #20 in the draft after he had been tipped to go between 25-40, although even draft experts admitted he may have been flying under the radar a little given his potential and upside’ after he tested fourth in the 20m sprint at the Victorian Country combine.
Presented with his jumper by the legendary Leigh Matthews on the ground in front of family and teammates before the sell-out game, he had the rare distinction of going straight into the AFL wearing the #1 jumper.
Across the entire competition since 2000 only 30 players have worn #1 on debut. Disproportionately, he is the fifth Brisbane player in this group after 2002 premiership player Des Headland, Mitch Clark, Sam Docherty (now at Carlton) and Ben Keays (now at Adelaide).
Others to wear #1 for the club have been inaugural Bears captain Mark Mickan, Richard Champion, 2003 premiership player Blake Caracella and Luke McGuane.
Lohmann is the fourth Brisbane player to debut on the big stage of an Easter Thursday blockbuster at the Gabba behind Jared Brennan (2003), Troy Selwood (2005) and Darcy Gardiner (2014).
He is the first ‘Kai’ and the first ‘Lohmann’ to play not just with Brisbane but across the entire AFL.
And, born 6 May 2003, Lohmann shares a birthday with ex-Bears wingman Darren Carlson, a Southport product who played 25 AFL games from 1987-90 and represented Queensland at the 1988 Bi-Centennial Championships in Adelaide, and Bert Sharpe, a member of the first Fitzroy premiership side in 1898. Sharpe would also have played in the 1899 flag but was a late withdrawal following the death of his father the day before the game. He finished with 99 games for Fitzroy but later played 17 games with South Melbourne.
FOOTY FUN FACT #1
There is another person in the Lions camp who made his AFL debut in #1 – Andrew Crowell. Now the club’s Player Development Manager, who oversees the off-field transition of newcomers like Lohmann into the AFL environment, wore #1 in the first of his 44 games for the Adelaide Crows in Round 1 2000.
FOOTY FUN FACT #2
Marcus Adams’ first goal for the Lions in his 33rd game for the club on Thursday night has wiped him from two unwanted statistical lists on which he had got to second spot. He had been ‘chasing’ Matt Maguire’s record of 52 games to his first goal, and Danny Dickfos’ record of 65 games without a goal.