Jason Akermanis was a freak. As good a kick on both feet as anyone the game has seen, he had the ability to make the difficult look easy and would often execute skills most would not even contemplate.
Sacked mid-season by Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs, he was not everyone’s cup of tea. And after Akermanis told the media ahead of the 2003 grand final that Nigel Lappin would be playing with broken ribs he found himself at least temporarily in the doghouse with Leigh Matthews.
It was quickly forgotten when Akermanis kicked five goals in the club’s third premiership, but the coach later admitted that if the Lions had lost then the 2001 Brownlow Medallist would never have played for the club again.
But there is no denying the Akermanis talents. Like he showed in Round 13 2005, when he had a career-best 35 possessions and kicked five goals in a 17-14 (116) to 6-11 (47) romp against Geelong at the Gabba.
Statistically, it is the second-best solo performance in Brisbane history, making it the headline story for the ‘Remember When …” series for Round 13.
Only the club’s very first signing, Mark Williams, has posted better numbers. He had 30 possessions and kicked six goals in the Brisbane Bears second game against Geelong in Geelong in 1987.
The only other player to have 30+ and kick five goals in the same game for the club was Dayne Beams in 2018, while there have been six instances of 30+ and four goals. Dayne Zorko has done it twice and Beams, Michael Voss, Tim Notting and Mark Withers once each.
In 35 years in the AFL Brisbane have enjoyed a 15-17 win/loss record in Round 13 matches, with three byes, but only after an 0-7 start. They are 12-8 at home in Round 13 games and 3-9 away.
There have been two 40-possession games in Round 13 by Luke Power against Adelaide at the Gabba in 2008 and Tom Rockliff at Marvel Stadium against the Bulldogs in 2012, while the highest goal tally in a game is Daniel Bradshaw’s seven against West Coast at the Gabba in 2000, when the Lions posted their highest Round 13 score of 17-11 (173).
Other Round 13 highlights include:-
1994 – Bombers beaten … at last.
In their early years in the AFL the Brisbane Bears had a check list, and one by one they ticked off the opposition clubs against which they took the points. It was North Melbourne and Geelong in their first two games, Melbourne in their second game at Carrara and Richmond in the Round 22 wooden-spooner decider in 1987.
Then it was four clubs in four games from Round 5 1988 - St.Kilda, Fitzroy, Sydney and Footscray, as the Western Bulldogs were then known - before they ticked off Carlton and Hawthorn in 1989 and claimed half points in a draw against West Coast in 1992.
So by the time they got partway through 1994 there were only two clubs left. Essendon and Collingwood. And, in a week in which the club stamped a big mark on the Brisbane sporting community, they ticked off both in front of sell-out Gabba crowds.
In Round 13, sitting 11th on the ladder at 4-7, they hosted the Bombers, who were 7th at 6-5. And for the first time in club history they played to a sell-out Gabba crowd of 18,484.
The gates were locked 35 minutes before the first bounce, with more than 1000 people turned away. Bears fans fortunate enough to get in were pumped after the Queensland State League side pumped their NSW/ACT equivalents by 10 goals in the curtain-raiser.
Essendon, the defending AFL premiers and Foster’s Cup pre-season champions, started warm favorites if only because of a 10-0 head-to-head record. And when they led 5-5 to 3-2 at quarter-time the bookies looked to have it right.
But with boom recruit Alastair Lynch in powerhouse form in his ninth Brisbane game, and second-year Bear Paul Peos providing a wonderful secondary target, the home side hit back. Adding 6-2 to 1-4 in the second term, they led by 13 points at halftime. And then 19 points at three-quarter time.
The experts (and the bookies) were waiting for the Bombers to bounce. But it didn’t come. The Bears went away with in the final stanza and to overwhelming applause won 17-12 (114) to 11-15 (81).
Lynch and Peos kicked five apiece – for Peos it was a career-best – as Adrian Adrian Fletcher (29), Shane Hamilton (26), Martin Leslie (23) and Marcus Ashcroft (20) topped the possession count.
Lynch (15) led the Bears B&F voting from Fletcher (11), Peos (8), Hamilton (6), Ashcroft (5), Leslie (5) and Darryl White (5), while Lynch, White and Scott McIvor took the 3-2-1 Brownlow votes.
The following week, in Round 14, they came back and did it all again, beating fifth-placed Collingwood in front of an even bigger sell-out crowd of 18,881. It was their first win in 12 games against the Pies, with Ashcroft and Matthew Clarke showing the way as Peos bagged another four.
2002 – Dynamic Des
Des Headland, #1 pick in the 1998 AFL draft, produced one of the most amazing stretches of football for a relatively inexperienced player through the middle stages of his fourth season in 2002. And it all started with the Round 13 clash with Carlton.
Headland, still only 21, had played three games in 1999, nine (including two finals) in 2000, and 20 games in 2001 before losing his spot for the finals and ultimately the first flag.
It wasn’t until Round 6 of 2002 that he got another chance, but there was no turning back. He picked up his first Brownlow Medal vote in Round 11, and, playing his 40th game in Round 13, had a blinder for his first three-vote rating.
The West Australian draftee had 20 possessions and kicked six goals – a mark that would remain his best through a career of 166 games with Brisbane and later Fremantle. And it wasn’t as if he made an easy ‘kill’ in a one-sided game – Carlton led by 22 points inside 15 minutes and it wasn’t until back-to-back Headland goals to start the third quarter (after he’d kicked the last two goals of the second quarter) that the home side hit the front.
The Blues took back a seven-point lead in time-on of the third quarter, before Brisbane kicked seven goals on the trot to get 37 points up. Only four late ones for the Blues cut it to 15 points at 19-10 (124) to 16-13 (109).
Only Simon Black (25 possessions and one vote) and Chris Scott (22 possessions) had more of the ball for the Lions than the match-winner, while Justin Murphy had 31 possessions and kicked two goals for Carlton for two votes.
And that was only the beginning. He polled six games in a row in the Brownlow – 3-1-1-3-2-3 – from Round 13 and picked up two more votes in Round 21 for a season total of 16 – in just 17 games.
There was still Round 22 and three finals to be played, and a flag to be win, but unknowingly a player not even featured in Brownlow markets at Round 12 had rocked into contention.
As we knew before the count on the Monday night of grand final week Headland did not poll in the first 10 rounds. But 146 players did. He was equal 147th in the voting in what was an odd night for the Lions.
It was a count in which Simon Black and Michael Voss went in among the fancies. At Round 10 Voss had 14 votes to lead from Hawthorn’s Shane Crawford (12), Melbourne’s Travis Johnstone (11) and Adelaide’s Andrew McLeod (11). Black was tied for 24th with five votes. It was like ‘what’s going on here?’.
Black polled 3-3-1 in Rounds 11-12-13 and 3-3-1 in Rounds 17-18-19, while Voss, carrying a bad knee, did not poll from Rounds 11-19.
With three rounds to play the leaderboard had taken on an entirely new look. It was Black (20) from Port’s Josh Francou (15), Melbourne’s Johnstone (15) and Adem Yze (15), with Voss (14) equal fifth with Crawford, Collingwood’s Nathan Buckley and Headland.
When Black, the eventual winner, polled three votes in Round 20 and Headland missed out the young Lion’s night was done, but his two votes in Round 21 saw him finish equal sixth with 16 votes. And on a votes-per-game basis only Black and runner-up Francou heded him.
And that despite being unlucky not to poll in a six-point Round 22 loss to Port Adelaide, when Port’s Roger James (31 possessions, two goals) polled three votes, Black (32 possessions, one goal) polled two votes, and Jason Akermanis (18 possessions, three goals) polled one vote. Headland had 24 possessions and kicked two goals.
Five days after the count Headland played his 52nd and last game for the Lions and walked off the MCG a premiership player. Fighting homesickness for four years, he later requested and was granted a trade to Fremantle, leaving with vivid memories of a startling burst of form from Round 13.
2013 – Miracle on Grass
Ash McGrath celebrated his 200th game like few others when he kicked 55m goal after the siren to clinch a five-point win over Geelong on a Sunday afternoon at the Gabba in Round 13 2013. An epic moment in club history that became known as the ‘Miracle on Grass’.
The Lions sat 15th on the ladder at 3-8 when they hosted Geelong, sitting equal top at 10-1. When they were 52 points down in time-on of the third quarter there weren’t too many people too surprised.
What followed, even before McGrath’s last-second heroics, was one of the great comeback wins not just in Lions history but in AFL history.
Joel Patful and Jonathan Brown goalled before three-quarter time to cut it to 38 before Dayne Zorko, Brent Moloney and Jed Adcock got the first three majors of the final term. All from outside 50m. They couldn’t do it could they? Steve Johnson replied for the Cats and it was 26 points with 15 minutes to play.
Brisbane, with Matthew Leuenberger in great touch, were dominating at the centre bounce. Again they went forward where Jordan Lisle found a running Pearce Hanley by hand and he goaled from 40m. Then it was Moloney straight out of the centre from 65m on the run before McGrath found Mitch Golby by hand in the pocket for Golby to snap on his left. Back to seven points.
Brent Staker marked on the wing and went quickly to Daniel Rich, who launched yet another long bomb from outside 50m. Scores were level. “If they can get up it will be the eighth-biggest comeback win in history,” screamed Anthony Hudson in commentary.
But Geelong, kicking to the main scoreboard end, won the ball at the re-start. Tom Hawkins marked on the boundary in the right forward pocket but from 35m his shot was narrow. Geelong by a point.
Looking to rebound quickly, Staker found Black before Rich sent a hurried kick over his shoulder that landed on the chest of Geelong’s Josh Hunt. With 45 seconds to play, the Cats went wide looking to chew up the clock. Joel Selwood went long down the line to Dawson Simpson who played on by hand to a running Joel Corey, who kicked long to the square.
Daniel Merrett took a magnificent saving mark for the Lions, and after feigning a handpass was called to play-on. He went by hand to Elliot Yeo who found a perfectly placed Simon Black in space inside defensive 50m. There was only one play. Down the middle.
It went from Black through Patfull to Adcock, who marked on his chest falling forward. Zorko ran past for the handball and kicked inside 50m. McGrath, in front of Hunt on the lead, marked overhead just before the siren. Geelong coach Chris Scott, powerless on the boundary line, shook his head.
“This is better than a fairytale … you can’t dream these scenarios,” said Hudson, as McGrath, opting for a drop punt, kicked from 53m. “It’s on it’s way … it’s there. It’s a miracle on grass,” said Hudson.
Black, with 33 possessions (20 contested) in his 320th game, received three Brownlow votes, and Moloney one vote for 22 possessions, three goals and a dynamic final term. Steve Johnson received two votes for the Cats.
2016 – Value-Plus Robinson
It’s hard to identify a Brisbane recruit who has been better value for money than Mitch Robinson. And by money that’s not what he has been paid but what the club paid to get him. Zilch.
Robinson, who turned 33 on Tuesday (7 June), joined the club as a free agent. After 100 games at Carlton the Tasmanian wingman/utility was sacked by the Blues for disciplinary reasons and moved north as a delisted free agent in the 2014-15 off-season.
Now something of a cult figure at the Gabba, he’s stretched his career games tally to 238, shared the Merrett/Murray Medal in 2015 and was runner-up to Dayne Zorko in 2016 and was ninth in 2019. He's been versatile, durable and valuable.
And in Round 13 2016, as Eric Hipwood debuted, the player originally drafted by Carlton with pick #40 in the 2008 AFL draft had a 39 possessions and kicked a goal in a 49-point Gabba loss to West Coast. Worth two Brownlow Medal votes, it was a career-best and typified the competitiveness of the man in jumper #5.
In a modern era where goal-kicking is so often the difference between winning and losing, Lions fans of Brisbane and Fitzroy persuasion will look back on a Fitzroy kicking display 39 years ago and think ‘if only …’
It was Round 13 1983 when Fitzroy played North Melbourne at Junction Oval. They were two of three teams sharing top spot on the ladder with a 9-3 record, but Fitzroy were coming off a 33-point loss to fourth-placed Hawthorn. It was a big game.
The response from a side coached by Robert Walls and captained by Garry Wilson was the best goal-kicking display in a high-scoring game in club history. They kicked 34-16 (220) to thump North 10-10 (70). A conversion rate of 68%.
It was the second-highest score and second-biggest win in Fitzroy history, behind only the 1979 game against Melbourne at Waverley in 1979, when they won 36-22 (238) to 6-12 (48).
Fitzroy kicked 13-8 in the first half and 21-8 in the second half in a rare display of quality conversion.
Ruck/forward Matt Rendell kicked a career-best 8-0, Mick Conlan kicked 7-0, the second biggest haul of his career, and Bernie Quinlan 7-3. Wilson, too, was unblemished in front of goal, kicking 4-0 to go with 25 possessions.
They had only nine goal-kickers – the others were Leigh Carlson (3-2), David McMahon (2-1), Leon Harris (1-1), Paul Roos (1-1) and Warwick Irwin (1-0).
Spoiling the record were Garry Sidebottom (0-2), Les Parish (0-1), Ross Thornton (0-1) and Glen Coleman (0-1), also Parish could be excused – he did have a career-best 39 possessions.
All these years later the Fitzroy score that day remains the biggest ever conceded by North, and one of just three beyond 200 points.
THE FITZROY COUNTDOWN
Round 13 1996, the last Round 13 game played by Fitzroy, was against Geelong at Western Oval. And it wasn’t pretty. It was 6-3 (39) to Geelong’s 25-16 (166) – the fifth-biggest loss in Fitzroy history and the biggest to the Cats.
It was Saturday 29 June … as we would learn later, just five days before confirmation of the merger with the Brisbane Bears on 4 July.
Coming off a 31-point loss to Hawthorn in what had been a good, spirited showing, coach Mick Nunan made only two changes, with Jeff Hogg and debutant Jason Ramsey replacing John McCarthy and Peter Bird.
Ramsey, recruited from Port Adelaide in the SANFL with the club’s fourth selection in the 1995 Pre-Season Draft, was player #1156 on the Fitzroy all-time list. The penultimate player in 100 years.
Ramsey would play Rounds 13-14 – the last game before the merger announcement and the first game after it - before he was cut loose by Fitzroy and later picked up by Richmond in the 1997 rookie draft without playing a senior game.
The 21-year-old first gamer had 12 possessions and seven tackles, second only to Chris Johnson’s eight, in what was one-way traffic from the outset.
Geelong led 14-10 to 6-1 at halftime and won 25-16 (166) thanks chiefly to six goals from Gary Ablett Snr, 35 possessions and four goals to Garry Hocking, and 23 possessions and four goals to Derek Hall.
Simon Atkins (25), Scott Bamford (24) and Martin Pike (21) were the only Fitzroy players with more than 20 possessions, while Brad Boyd (2 goals) was their only multiple goal-kicker.