The Broncos joined the NSWRL in 1988. They were the first team to be included from outside of NSW.
They came with the promise that they would be the only team in Queensland’s south-east region. Soon the Gold Coast-Tweed Giants were announced. However, they played out of NSW. The Broncos weren’t happy, but fortunately for them, this did not hinder their progress.
Many felt early that the Broncos would dominate. They had the State of Queensland behind them. They had the best young coach going around in Wayne Bennett. They had the King Wally Lewis, and the junior development base was the whole state. They could cherry pick the best. Their future was bright.
Success does not come easy. The ingredients for success are many: hard work, dedication, persistence, knowledge, skill and luck are needed. Fortunately for the Broncos, they have all these ingredients.
They won their inaugural grand final in 1992 and followed it up again in 1993. They dominated everyone. 1994 didn’t start to flash for them with an upset loss to South Sydney in the pre-season Toohey’s Cup, but really, the Premiership is where it counts, and there would be more to follow.
The competition was looking to expand, and the Broncos were furious. Another team in Brisbane, another in North Queensland. They could see their grip on the state and their influence diminishing. A side in Perth and Auckland took the competition to 20 teams. Brisbane knew this was ridiculous.
Brisbane believed that there were far too many teams that were not economically viable. They felt that there were far too many Sydney teams and there was not enough talent for a 20 team competition. They were right on all accounts.
They also knew that Murdoch was going to be bringing cable television to Australia and saw a chance to streamline the competition. They wanted a league with only the best teams. They wanted a Super League.
The Super League war from 1995–1997 crippled the game. The game survived, but tradition was lost, friendships were broken, and the popularity of the sport declined dramatically. Who knows, if this war had not taken place maybe rugby league would be the number one sport in Australia, not Aussie rules.
Yes, there are two sides to every conflict and the Brisbane Broncos were only a pawn in the battle between Murchoch and Packer. Both wanted rugby league on their television sets. They both got it.
At the end of the 1997 season peace was achieved. By the 2000 season, the compromised structure of the NRL took place. A 14 team completion with every team playing home-and-away. Perth, Adelaide, South Queensland, Gold Coast, Hunter Mariners and South Sydney were gone. Wests merged with Balmain, St George with Illawarra and Manly with North Sydney. It was chaos.
The Broncos had won the 1997 Super League title. It gets counted in the record books, but ask anyone about the 1997 grand final and people remember the Newcastle versus Manly game. This is not to deny the Broncos as Newcastle won a split competition; also, it’s just that this game breathed new life into the game. The game was really on its knees by this point. The Broncos win over the Sharks was more a formality.
All debate about the 1997 season can pushed aside because the Broncos showed their prowess in 1998 running away with the title against the Bulldogs. They confirmed their place as the number one team. In 2000, they reaffirmed their point. The Broncos were the team to beat. They were the Manchester United of rugby league.
After this, something strange happened. The Broncos stopped making grand finals. Their next appearance was in 2006. Yes, they won, but they had some fortunate calls. Before Bronco fans react with outrage at such a comment or Melbourne fans complain about the result, remember, that’s the nature of the game. On this day, the Broncos got the rub of the green.
The absence of Wayne can best describe the next few years. He left and then he came back. The time in between was not the club’s better years.
In 2015, the club made the grand final again. They were chasing another title. A classic and up until the final couple of seconds they had it won. We all know what happened. Try on the sideline. Missed conversion. Ben Hunt dropped the ball. Thurston field goal. Classic contest. Right up there with the 1989 Balmain versus Canberra grand final and the 1997 Manly versus Newcastle grand final.
The club has gone close since and will do again in the future. The club continues to do well. They have the most memberships 36,220. They have the highest crowd averages with just short of 32,000 people attending their games. The club makes a profit every year.
It is important to note, that they are a one team town. One may suggest that they should have more members. The crowds although the best in the league are not as good as they should want. Though, having regular Friday Night and Thursday night games is a curse. Ask South Sydney, and they would agree. If the Broncos get more Sunday games, expect the crowd averages to climb.
Apart from a complete and utter failure in their administration, the Brisbane Broncos will remain dominant. Even if expansion brings in the Brisbane Bombers, the club will still be successful. Success, it seems is part of the Brisbane Broncos DNA.
First Season: 1988
Titles: 6* (1992, 1993, 1997*, 1998, 2000 and 2006)
Note: * The 1997 win is the Super League title.