I’ll let you in on a little secret. Brisbane is the best city in Australia to live in, and its football club has the potential to be the biggest in the A-League.
Most Brisbane residents – particularly those who’ve moved to the river city from elsewhere – already know it’s a fantastic place to live.
While folks in Sydney and Melbourne bicker about which is the more liveable city, those in Brisbane simply get on with enjoying life.
And it’s a pretty good living, all things considered.
I moved to Brisbane midway through 2009, having back-packed around the World Cup before spending three years in the Japanese seaside town of Shimizu.
After deciding Sydney was too expensive, the choice of a new hometown came down to either Melbourne or Brisbane.
In the end it was easy. I often visit Melbourne, but since I can’t stomach the AFL, I figured the Sunshine State seemed like a sensible place to be.
I haven’t regretted the decision.
Brisbane has got everything you could want – affordable housing, great bars and restaurants, excellent sporting culture and a fantastic live music scene.
It used to be known as a big country town, yet an influx of creative types and the fact some of Australia’s largest companies have their headquarters here means Brisbane is actually one of the Asia-Pacific region’s more vibrant destinations.
Think I’m joking? Check out the sort of names you see associated with the wildly successful Brisbane International tennis tournament and get back to me.
About the only thing missing, as far as I’m concerned, has been a football club the city can truly connect with.
Even that comes with a caveat.
When Ange Postecoglou steered the Brisbane Roar to back-to-back A-League titles before Mike Mulvey added a third, it looked like the Roar might become the sort of juggernaut to rival the NRL’s Brisbane Broncos.
After all, more than 50,000 fans packed into Suncorp Stadium for all three grand finals and, from my vantage point, at least nine-tenths of them were wearing orange.
Having won three championships in such thrilling fashion, why haven’t the Roar kicked on to become one of the biggest sporting clubs in the land?
The answer, if you believe a vocal section of supporters, is the Bakrie Group.
Brisbane Roar’s Jakarta-based owners destroyed a mountain of good will with a series of administrative blunders, and the fans have never let them forget it.
Now, it’s not for me to tell anyone how to support a football club.
But I have to say – and maybe it’s because I’m a transplant to the city, or because I simply believe the action on a pitch largely outweighs the administration off it – I’ve struggled to understand the sheer depth of fan anger.
And it’s not because I’ve never stood on terraces myself.
When Shimizu S-Pulse travels to Tokushima Vortis on Sunday afternoon, I’ll be watching on a dodgy stream as my beloved team in orange tries to win promotion back to J1 at the first attempt.
But with the Roar’s new managing director Mark Kingsman making a deliberate effort to reconnect with fans – I spoke with him on the phone during the week and he’s realistic about how many bridges need mending – I feel like the club is at least trying to make amends.
Their decision to wear maroon against Sydney FC on Saturday has annoyed some, but at least it’s a concerted marketing attempt.
Meanwhile, the Roar may now need to contend with an expansion bid from the Brisbane Strikers.
Perhaps that’s just what the city needs.
In the meantime, I’m going to put the politics to one side and simply appreciate the fact that we have a game of Saturday night’s magnitude to enjoy at Suncorp Stadium.
It’s something I would urge fans at every A-League ground to do this weekend.
After all, football may be much more than a matter of life and death. But it’s also supposed to be fun as well.