My story as a Lion started on the 4th October 2016. Being appointed the Senior Coach of the Brisbane Lions was not something I took lightly. It has been the greatest and most enjoyable experience of my professional life so far. I treasure going to work every day and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity the club gave me 4 years ago.
Premiers aren’t born overnight. But with all experiences comes opportunity for growth and I can proudly attest to the development of our team. Developing is something they’ve been doing since we all started together and it’s the reason why we’ve gone from wooden spooners in 2017 to Preliminary finalists in 2020 and it will be the reason why we will continue to challenge seriously into the future. It’s a process that never ends and a process that we embrace.
The fans and the football world use the ladder as the measuring stick and our growth there is plain to see.
However, internally we also take great pride and satisfaction in the development of our people, and the strength of our culture.
I feel like we’ve made our Club a good place to be, where players are improving as people as well as footballers.
I love that part of it. When you see growth in people and you see them grow in confidence and belief, that’s what gives you the real buzz to come to work”
History will show that we leapt from 15th place with five wins in 2018 to second at the end of the home and away season the following year with 16 wins.
It seems like an incredible jump but internally we could see our players and coaches were growing together and improving well before that.
In 2017, my first season at the club we won the wooden spoon and won five games but our percentage had increased significantly.
Year two we achieved five wins again but despite having the same win/loss ratio as the previous year we saw another significant jump in our performance, increasing our percentage again and losing seven games by 14 points or less. We were pushing a lot more sides in the competition and we knew heading into 2019 that if we could convert the close losses into wins we could push for the finals.
Our return to the finals in 2019, the Lions’ first September campaign in a decade, was a significant achievement for our club. Although we were disappointed we were unable to get a win, the experience we gained was invaluable. We played the two eventual grand finalists and had periods in both those games where we were on top.
Heading into this season we believed if we made the finals again, the lessons we learned last year would hold us in good stead.
One of the ways we have measured our growth has been ending losing streaks, some which date back a lot of games over several years.
One by one over the past couple of years we have wiped those names off the list until at the end of the 2020 home and away season only one remained.
That qualifying final victory over Richmond didn’t just send the Lions into their first preliminary final in 16 years, it ended an 11-year drought against the Tigers.
We fell a game short of the Grand Final and make no mistake we were disappointed. But once again that will just serve to inspire us to seek greater improvement.
History indicates that usually it takes time and sometimes disappointing experiences to grow into a premiership outfit and I know our players view the preliminary final experience as a growth opportunity. Every one is very clear about what we have to do over the summer and you can sense the excitement at the challenge that lies ahead.
It seems inappropriate to not mention what ensued worldwide in 2020 as another defining point in my story.
This season was unlike any other we as a team, a Club and as people have ever experienced but one that we embraced and one that will forever be remembered. This season we found great success on the field, but behind all great teams there are even greater people.
It’s been an incredible experience to witness the devotion and dedication of our people, particularly through such an unpredictable year. So, to the members and supporters of our Club, wherever you live in our country – we treasure your support and hopefully we have been able to give you some joy and distraction during this COVID period.
It’s been a challenging year but importantly another year of growth and now it’s time to look forward to 2021 and strive for progression on and off the field. I look forward to witnessing the confidence and belief of our players and our people grow as we move into this next season. That’s what really gives you the buzz to come to the Club every day and that is why I am proud to say I am Lion.