Brisbane v Port Adelaide. During the early 2000s it was one of the biggest rivalries in football. Undeniably so, and happily for Lions fans a dominant one for the club during the premiership era.
The record between Brisbane and Port began in a year critical in the history of both. It was 1997. The Brisbane Lions had just been formed via the Brisbane Bears merger with Fitzroy, and Port Adelaide, a traditional powerhouse of the SANFL, was new to the national competition.
In Round 20, it was one that will still cause angst among Lions fans. Port’s Michael Wilson was awarded what turned out to be a critical goal seven minutes after half-time, when in fact the ball was clearly smothered off the boot by Alastair Lynch.
The ball was soccered off the ground by Shayne Breuer after it had already crossed the goal line, but, after a breakdown in communication with the goal umpire and the field umpire, the "all clear" was signalled.
In the end, it took a freak Daniel Bradshaw soccer effort from point-blank range in the last minute for the Lions to snatch a share of the points after they had trailed by 29 points at halftime.
Then, in Round 12 1998 it was the reverse situation. The Lions, in their first game under caretaker coach Roger Merrett after John Northey had been sacked midweek, were more than lucky to escape with a draw via a gift from now Gold Coast Suns coach Stuart Dew and the cool head of Shaun Hart.
The Lions were 26 points down inside the last six minutes and were gone for all money. They dragged themselves back into the contest but with just 25sec on the clock all looked lost. Port had the ball for a kick-in and only needed to retain possession.
Dew, in just the seventh game of a career that would see him win premierships with Port and Hawthorn, took the kick-in. It was picked off perfectly by an ever-alert Hart stationed in between three Port players in the defensive zone.
Hart had already kicked a critical late goal to help get the Lions back into it as he lined up the big sticks. On the preferred right side for a left-footer, the 27-year-old started the 35m shot at the left post and watched with glee as it swung back straight between the posts.
There were still 14sec to play, but it mattered little. Chris Scott got a hurried center clearance and by the time the next possession was won it was all over.
The overall record between the two clubs now stands at 37 games for 17 Brisbane wins, two draws, and 18 Brisbane losses.
THE GOLDEN ERA
It is a never-ending sense of frustration to Port Adelaide fans that in the Brisbane premiership era of 2001-02-03 Port twice finished minor premiers, won 52 home-and-away games and didn’t play in a grand final. Brisbane never finished top of the ladder and won only 48 home-and-away games but played in three grand finals and won three flags.
From Round 16 of 2001, when the Lions were on the charge to their first flag, until the 2003 grand final the teams met seven times.
Qualifying Final 2001
The Lions had finished second on the home-and-away ladder, behind Essendon on percentages and a game clear of third-placed Power. The traditional rivals met for a week off and a passage straight to a home preliminary final.
The Lions dominated possession early but kicked poorly. They were 1-6 at quarter-time and 3-9 at halftime when down by 16 points. But best afield Simon Black and Nigel Lappin inspired a turnaround in which the home side blasted 9-7 to 1-7 after halftime to grind their way to a 12-16 (88) to 8-8 (56) triumph.
Especially memorable in one of his finest nights as a player Brad Scott ran onto a clever knock-on from Marcus Ashcroft and snapped a ‘helicopter’ kick near the boundary from 35m. And such was Darryl White’s effort at centre half back, Port’s Chad Cornes, in the prime of his career, was taken off the ground.
Worrying, though, was the report of Alastair Lynch on a striking charge. Although he was suspended for a week, he returned for the grand final and the Lions’ win over Essendon.
Preliminary Final 2002
Three weeks after their Round 22 showdown the Lions and the Power were at it again in a Gabba preliminary final. The home side had enjoyed a week off while Port beat Essendon to keep their season alive. And it showed.
After a tight first term the Lions went further ahead as the game went on and won 138 to 82 on the back of five goals from Alastair Lynch and a best afield performance from Des Headland.
Interviewed sideline at the end of the game, Headland said: “I missed out last year – I wasn’t going to miss out again.”
He was right. And after a brilliant season, he didn’t miss out on anything. Equal sixth in a Brownlow Medal count which saw Simon Black win and Michael Voss finish equal third, he’d had a career-best 33 possessions and kicked three goals in the preliminary final in what turned out to be his penultimate Lions game before heading to Fremantle.
Simon Black, Michael Voss, Jonathan Brown and Nigel Lappin also starred as the Lions won a berth in the grand final the following week against Collingwood when they won their second flag.
Round 2 2003
The Lions and the Power met next in Round 2 2003. It was Michael Voss’ 200th game at Football Park in Adelaide and after a sluggish start his men rallied superbly. They held Port to seven goals after quarter-time in a torrid physical contest, eventually getting home 13-8 (86) to 10-16 (76) on the back of a seven-goal blitz with a strong wind in the second quarter, including five in 12 minutes mid-term.
It was Voss’ night. He took two-year-old twins Kayla and Casey, wearing No.3 jumpers with the words ‘my daddy’ embroidered on them, through the banner to begin hostilities, and was carried from the field by Jonathan Brown and Leppitsch to end them.
Nigel Lappin was best afield while Leppitsch and Jason Akermanis were other standouts.
AND FOUR MORE SPECIAL MOMENTS ….
Since the golden era the Lions have had four memorable wins over the Power.
A Miracle Comeback
In Round 4 2008 the Lions pulled off one of the great comeback wins at Port Adelaide’s expense. Down by 47 points 22 minutes into the third quarter they kicked 11 of the last 12 goals to win 124 to 104.
After Jed Adcock and Daniel Bradshaw kicked two steadiers late in the third quarter it became a Brisbane blitz. Tim Notting, Travis Johnstone, Bradshaw, Cheynee Stiller, Rhan Hooper, Jonathan Brown and Bradshaw. And after Shaun Burgoyne answered for Port Brown and finally Bradshaw put it beyond doubt.
Simon Black had 32 possessions, one goal and 10 clearances to take three Brownlow votes, while Brown (four goals) and Bradshaw (five) picked up the minor votes, and Matthew Leuenberger was superb in the ruck.
A Zorko Zinger
It wasn’t a good season for Brisbane or Port in 2012, but Brisbane’s Round 22 win in torrential rain at Football Park in Adelaide was outstanding. The Lions led for much of the day but twice Port kicked five goals in a row in the first quarter and the third quarter. The visitors were 13 points down at the last change under coach Michael Voss but kicked 4-1 to 0-1 in the final term.
Dayne Zorko, in his first season and his 22nd game, had 23 possessions and kicked three goals to earn his first three-vote rating in the Brownlow Medal, while Jack Redden was similarly outstanding with 24 possessions, 13 tackles and two votes. Jonathan Brown kicked four goals and Andrew Raines was unlucky to miss the votes his 100th AFL game.
A Massive Upset
Brisbane had started the 2015 season with five consecutive losses under second-year coach Justin Leppitsch, and a narrow Round 6 win over Carlton didn’t exactly fill the Gabba with joy. But a massive upset win over Port at the Gabba in Round 7 did.
After a tight start the home side pulled away, out-scoring the Power 6-4 to 1-6 in a decisive second quarter and 8-6 to 5-8 in the second half to win 15-12 (102) to 8-17 (65). Dayne Beams was best afield, Daniel Rich bounced back to his best form, and Stefan Martin and Lewis Taylor were also prominent.
Shocking conditions greeted the Lions at Adelaide Oval in Round 17 last year as Charlie Cameron celebrated his 100th game against Port. The Lions kicked the first seven goals, held Port to just six, and won by eight goals.
Cameron kicked four in the 14-13 (97) to 6-13 (49) win to pick up one Brownlow vote. Jarryd Lyons was best afield with 36 possessions and Dayne Zorko picked up two votes with 24 possessions and three goals. It was the fourth win of a nine-game winning streak which took the Lions to the finals for the first time since 2009.