Remember the last time a premiership side opened their premiership defence with a loss to a side that had finished 15th the year before?
Probably not, because it has never happened.
So says ‘The Stat Files’, a new recruit to the editorial teams at lions.com.au this season.
The Stat Files will bring Lions fans all the key statistics each week and answer quirky questions like that which AFL football invariably tosses up.
The Stat Files has started the 2019 season abuzz with facts and figures after the Lions’ magnificent Round 1 win over West Coast at the Gabba on Saturday night.
Since Brisbane joined the AFL in 1987 the defending premiers have enjoyed a 20-12 win/loss record in Round 1 the following year, with the Lions an unblemished 3-0 at the start of their premiership defences in 2002-03-04.
The ‘never lost to a side that finished 15th’ line is a little misleading because it wasn’t until 1991, when Port Adelaide joined the AFL, that there were 15 teams.
But there’s no denying the magnitude of the Lions’ Round 1 win over the premiers after they’d had just five wins in 2018.
The most recent instance of anything like this was 48 years ago, when 1970 premiers Carlton opened their premiership defence with a 26-point loss to North Melbourne, who had won just four games in 1970 to collect the wooden-spoon.
It was a night for Lions fans to behold and had old-timers saying they hadn’t enjoyed a night at the Gabba like that in 10 years.
The crowd of 20,029 was the biggest for a game against West Coast since 2010 and fully 22% up on the last game of last year, when coincidentally West Coast were the opponents again.
And the score line of 14-7 to 2-8 after quarter-time, when the Lions had trailed 1-5 to 6-2, had The Stat Files buzzing again.
Only once in a Brisbane Football Club history that now numbers 738 games have the Bears/Lions held the opposition to two goals in the last three quarters. And that day the Bears kicked only eight goals.
It was in Round 19 1994 against St.Kilda at Waverley, when the Bears, down 0-5 to 3-1 at quarter-time, outscored the Saints 8-2 to 2-14 to win by 10 points in the 100th game for Marcus Ashcroft and Martin Leslie.
Also, it was only the third game since 2006 that the Lions have had a ‘plus 12’ goal differential after quarter-time. The others were against Carlton in 2015 and Gold Coast in 2017, both at the Gabba.
It goes on. The phenomenal effort by the Lions defensive group to hold West Coast’s scoreless in the third quarter was another rarity. It was only the sixth time in what is now 2952 quarters of football this has happened.
The last time was Round 7 2006 at Carrara, when the Lions held Hawthorn scoreless in the first quarter on route to a 40-point win. Jonathan Brown kicked eight goals for the victors and a 21-year-old Luke Hodge played his 73rd game for the Hawks.
Also, Lincoln McCarthy’s career-best four goals in his 30th career game and his first game in Brisbane colors also earned him a place in club history.
Among 318 players to represent the club only Alastair Lynch has kicked more in his first game for the club. He booted eight goals against St.Kilda in Round 4 1994 after missing the first three games of his first season with the club with a collarbone injury.
Kevin Caton, who played one game with West Coast in 1988 and nine games with Fitzroy in 1989, also kicked four goals in the first of his eight games with Brisbane in 1990.
And Queenslander Steve McLuckie kicked four goals in his AFL debut for the Bears in 1992.
Charlie Cameron, who sparked the Lions’ revival on Saturday night, is among three imports to have kicked three goals in his Brisbane debut. He did so against St.Kilda in Round 1 last year.
Also, Brendan Fevola kicked three goals in his Brisbane debut against West Coast in 2010 – he kicked 3-7 – and Trent West kicked three on Brisbane debut against Hawthorn in 2014.
AFL debutants to kick three goals on debut for the club have been John Hutton (1992), Luke Power (1998), Justin Sherman (2005) and Marco Paparone (2013).
The Lions’ win over the Eagles on Saturday night ended an eight-game losing streak against the club with which they joined the competition in 1987 and was the club’s first against a defending premier since 2009, when they beat Hawthorn.
This meant that 11 members of the home side enjoyed their first career win over the Eagles – Harris Andrews, Zac Bailey, Jarrod Berry, Darcy Gardiner, Eric Hipwood, Rhys Mathieson, Hugh McCluggage, Oscar McInerney, Dan McStay, Cam Rayner and Alex Witherden.
Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich were the only Brisbane-only players to have previously beaten West Coast.