It says much about the Lions’ 2001-02-03 premiership years that 20 years on more than half of the superstar group are still making a living out of football at the elite level.

Fifteen of the 28 premiership players are coaching in the AFL or working in associated AFL activities – including five in football media.

Plus, there are three builders, a life coach, a union representative, a real estate agent, a property buyers agent, a luxury car entrepreneur, a medical sales representative, an international operative in commercial agricultural, an indigenous health provider and recruitment specialist, an indigenous support worker and the owner of a company that does line-marking on the roads.  

Between them they have 80 children – 39 boys and 41 girls – and the start of the next generation of Lions headed by Will Ashcroft. A gold star for Marcus and wife Bec.

It’s enough to make Leigh Matthews, coach of arguably the greatest AFL team of all-time, feel like a very proud ‘father’, and a very, very busy grandfather!

The triple premiership master coach has gone from product to producer.

He’s done for the Brisbane group what his long-time Hawthorn coach Allan Jeans did through the 1980s, rolling out a group of future AFL coaches that included Terry Wallace, Gary Ayres, Ken Judge, Rodney Eade, Peter Knights, Peter Schwab and Gary Buckenara.

Ahead of the Lions’ upcoming 20-year reunion of the 2003 premiership and the associated Hall of Fame Dinner at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Wednesday 30 August, here we do a ‘where are they now?’ roll call on the 28 players who went back-to-back-to-back.

At the top of the list are four senior AFL coaches and three senior assistant-coaches. It’s an extraordinary percentage of the most senior coaching figures in the country from one team.

Chris Scott, a 215-game player and father of one daughter, has built the highest win ratio among any 100-game coach in AFL history through 13 years at Geelong. The 2011 and 2022 premiership coach has a phenomenal 210-3-94 record from 307 games at the helm. A win ratio of 68.9%. Still only 47, he’s now totalled 522 AFL games as a player and coach. The most among this group.

Michael Voss, bound for the finals in his second year as senior coach at Carlton after five years in charge of the Lions from 2009-13, has added 151 games in the coaches box (or the coaching bench) to his brilliant 289-game career.  A total of 440 match day breakfasts.

A father of three, the skipper could and perhaps should have delivered an AFL son, with Casey now a SANFL best & fairest winner with Sturt and a regular South Australian representative after inexplicably missing the chance to show his wares in the AFL system.

Brad Scott, in his first season as senior coach at Essendon after 10 seasons at North Melbourne and a stint as AFL General Manager of Football, quietly took his combined playing/coaching games tally to 400 in Round 22 without anyone noticing. A 168-game player and father of one son.

And Craig McRae, a 195-game Lion who was VFL premiership coach and Coach of the Year in 2019, claimed the AFLCA coach of the year in his first season in charge at Collingwood last year and now is coach of the 2023 ladder leaders going into the final round of the home-and-away season. He has two daughters.

Three ex-Lions are current senior assistant-coaches in the AFL … the nominal deputy.

Nigel Lappin has been at Geelong since 2009 and a member of Chris Scott’s coaching team since his long-time best mate arrived at the Cattery in 2011. Like Scott, he’s won two flags coaching. A father of four daughters.

Justin Leppitsch, senior coach at Brisbane from 2014-16 to take his playing/coaching game tally to 293, won three flags as Damien Hardwick’s right-hand-man at Richmond in 2017-19-20 and is in his second year as McRae’s lieutenant at Collingwood. A father of three girls.

And Blake Caracella, a Brisbane premiership player in 2003 only after he’d won a flag at Essendon in 2000, is Brad Scott’s 2IC at Essendon. He’s coached at Geelong, Richmond and Essendon, where he filled in as senior coach for the last game of 2022 after Ben Rutten was sacked. A father of two boys and a girl.

Also coaching in the AFL is Luke Power, a father to one girl, was a five-year assistant-coach at GWS and three-year High Performance Coach at the AFL Academy before going to Carlton as an assistant-coach in 2020 and is now Head of Development and VFL coach working alongside Voss.

The latest addition to the AFL coaching ranks, albeit part-time, is Beau McDonald. A former ruck coach at the Lions, he joined the Fremantle Dockers as ruck coach this year. He also works for the WA Football Commission and has been WA Under 18 girls coach for four years. Is father to a girl who still lives in Brisbane with her mother.

The football media is full of ex-Lions – Alastair Lynch, Jonathan Brown, Simon Black, Chris Johnson and Darryl White.

Black, a former Lions AFL and AFLW assistant-coach, is father to two boys and a girl and runs his own football academy in Brisbane, providing a pathway that combines football and education.

Melbourne-based Johnson, father of three boys and a girl, has set up his own indigenous technology company after stepping away from the AFL talent pathway, and this year took over an indigenous boarding house in Melbourne with wife Vanessa. His oldest son Lachie was drafted as a rookie at Essendon after he was set to join the Lions but was delisted after a serious knee injury without playing at AFL level.

Lynch, father to two girls and a boy, has recently chalked up 20 years living in Brisbane, while Brown has recently returned to the Gold Coast to live with his three children – one boy and two girls – after a stint in Melbourne while doing breakfast radio five days a week.

White, living in Brisbane, leads the way in the children stakes - easily. He has eight five boys and three girls, including first-year Lions rookie Darryl Jnr and two international basketball stars. Will McDowell-White is an NBL star with the New Zealand Breakers and a member of the Australian Boomers national squad, and sister Jessica is in the Australian women’s team after a stint at college in the US and recently signed to play with Townville in the upcoming national league season.

Marcus Ashcroft, an original assistant-coach and later football boss at the Gold Coast Suns from 2008-17 and later AFL National Talent Pathways Manager, is now CEO of the VFL club Sandringham. Father to daughter Lucy, Will and soon-to-be-Lion Levi, a 2023 All-Australian Under-16 selection.

Shaun Hart, who also had time in coaching and development with the Suns (2008-13) and Port Adelaide (2014-17), now heads up iD Sports, offering three-dimensional coaching and leadership in sport, education and business on the Gold Coast. A father of two boys.

Clark Keating, too, had time as a part-time with the Brisbane Lions AFLW side but is now out of football. After a long stint in property development with ex-teammate Damien Bourke who is now Managing Director of ‘Luxicar’, a luxury car hire service in Brisbane. He has three girls who all play football at Mayne, and was an assistant-coach in the Lions AFLW premiership in 2021. 

Jamie Charman stayed with the Lions post-football – but in a different role. He was a corporate sales executive (2011-14) and corporate sales manager (2014-15) before time in property consultancy and  real estate. He now runs ‘Charman Property Co’, a property buyers agency. Father to three kids.

Jason Akermanis, father to three daughters, was a part-time media person and a coach in Albury in his early years after retirement but is now back in Brisbane in the real estate game with “Blue Moon Properties” at Ascot.

That leaves only eight premiership Lions who have not worked in the football industry since retiring.

Tim Notting is married to Olympian Jodie Henry, who last year was elevated to ‘Legend’ status in the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame. Having had one son from an earlier relationship, he shares three children with the ex-swimming star – two boys and a girl – and owns ‘Stella Builders’ in Brisbane.

Aaron Shattock, living on the Gold Coast with one boy and two girls, is Managing Director of ‘As Built Projects’, and Robert Copeland, living at Redcliffe with two boys, works for a local builder.

Mal Michael is based in Melbourne but splits his time month on/month off between there and Port Moresby. He is a Partner in MW PNG Limited, which, in his words, is involved in primary industries and the resource sector, especially commercial agriculture. He has one boy and one girl.

Martin Pike lives in Melbourne and is father to one boy and one girl. He has worked for 10 years with the CFMEU – Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union - and is an on-site representative in the construction business.  

Daniel Bradshaw is back home in Wodonga, where for 10 years he has owned and operated a road line marking business which is bought from ex-Geelong, Sydney and Footscray player Bernard Toohey. He has three boys and a girl.

To complete the premiership group are three Lions now living in Perth.

Des Headland, father to two daughters and one son, is CEO of ‘Spartan First’, an Indigenous occupational health provider, Co-Chairman of ‘Iron Merge’, an Indigenous company involved in recruitment, industrial supplies and even mining operations, and managing director of the family business, ‘Headland Corporation’.

Ash McGrath, father to two daughters and one son, works for the Clontarf Foundation in improving education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. And Richard Hadley, father to three boys, ran his own coffee shop for three years but is now in medical sales in the joint replacement division with ‘Stryker’.

Headland and McGrath also dabble in AFL Indigenous jumper design – they put together the Lions jumper for Indigenous round this year after Johnson did the job in 2021.

Between them the 28 Lions premiership heroes played 6134 AFL games and have coached 807 AFL games – a total of 6937 games. And together they have played in or coached 81 AFL/AFLW premierships. And counting!

Grandfather Leigh should be very proud!!!