EASTER Sunday, April 19, 1987. The Brisbane Bears gave birth to a new chapter in the AFL when they hosted Fitzroy in the first game in the expanded national competition to be played on the Gold Coast.

It was a bizarre time as three separate crews of council employees, contractors and volunteers worked around the clock in the lead-up to the round four clash to finalise preparations at the one-time cow paddock, then known simply as Carrara and now Metricon Stadium.

Nothing was easy. Even the goal posts were a problem as horrified workers unloaded a truck only to find what they had been sent were much too short. So, the would-be goalposts were used as behind posts and club officials borrowed four towering rugby posts from Albert Shire Council to use as goal posts.

It didn’t get any better on match-day when Bears coach Peter Knights had to postpone his customary pre-match team meeting after a Gold Coast Highway traffic jam meant Bears players living in Brisbane did not arrive at the ground until just before the first bounce.

And during the match, Knights could not see the new $250,000 electronic scoreboard. It was rendered virtually useless from the coach’s box by the beaming sun and the non-arrival from the United States of shades that were designed to cut out the reflection. Knights could not even read the time clock and had to rely on the small scoreboard at the opposite end for the scores.

It was almost surprising, then, that the much-maligned fledgling club, which had stunned critics by beating North Melbourne and Geelong in its first two games before losing to St Kilda in game three, got within 15 points of Fitzroy in its first home game.

The Bears might even have won but for seven goals apiece from Fitzroy’s Richard Osborne and Doug Barwick, who topped the Brownlow Medal vote card, from Brisbane’s Steve Reynoldson and Fitzroy’s Paul Roos.

In what seems like something of a tautology, the Bears out-scored the Lions in each of the last three quarters after Barwick and Osborne combined to give the visitors a 7.2 to 1.4 lead at quarter-time on what Fitzroy coach David Parkin described as the best playing surface he had seen.

The crowd was first declared to be 18,009, was later amended to 22,512, and is officially recorded as 17,795. Whatever, it was an encouraging result for Bears chairman and former television personality Paul Cronin, who had taken up temporary residence on the Gold Coast, and club owner Christopher Skase, who would often arrive at Carrara via helicopter to join high-rolling corporate associates dining on food and enjoying flowers that had been flown from Melbourne.