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AFL top 100: Brisbane's champions

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2nd April, 2020

Unlike my last article, which highlighted Adelaide’s champions, this one on Brisbane is not so straightforward.

The two main sources I use for my match statistics differ on the treatment of the Brisbane Bears, with one source treating them as a separate entity while the other has combined the games played, goals scored and all other relevant statistics of both the Brisbane Bears and the Brisbane Lions in the one table.

Both arguments for the positions they have taken have some merit.

The source that keeps the statistics separate argues that the Brisbane Lions came about as a result of the merger of Fitzroy and the Brisbane Bears, and the new club, to be consistent, would need to take into account the statistics of both merged clubs and would thus over time diminish the achievements of the Victorian club.

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The other source, which combines the statistics, adopts the approach that as the Bears were the club that established the foothold in rugby territory on 6 October 1986 and endured the ten years in the wilderness before the club’s first finals win, the Bears were merged with the Lions, and so the Fitzroy connection should be treated as a different circumstance and the history of Fitzroy preserved.

All this controversy makes no difference to the argument about who is Brisbane’s greatest game player, Simon Black. Apart from amassing 322 games, all with the Brisbane Lions, Black played in Brisbane’s first three premierships, winning a Norm Smith medal along the way. He also won three club best and fairest awards and the 2002 Brownlow Medal, and he captained the Lions for two years.

Luke Power is another player who did not play for the Bears, starting at the Lions in the same year as Simon Black and being a key player in the three premierships as well. Based on games for the Brisbane Lions only, he is the second greatest game player for the club, but when the games played for the Bears are added to other champions’ games tallies, Marcus Ashcroft and Michael Voss finish second and third respectively on the top 100 list and Power is relegated to fourth.

Ashcroft is a true Queenslander. Although born in Victoria, he moved to the Gold Coast when he was three years old and played all his junior football at either the Surfers Paradise Demons or the Southport Sharks. After one season at Southport in the QAFL as a 16-year-old Ashcroft was recruited by the Brisbane Bears as the only Queenslander drafted.

In common with Simon Black, Michael Voss, Luke Power and Nigel Lappin – the No. 5 on both top 100 lists – Ashcroft has three premiership medals.


Michael Voss is one of only three players to be selected as the All Australian captain twice. He was All Australian five times, including the three premiership years. He captained Brisbane more than any other player and was selected four times as the best team captain by the AFLPA, who also selected him for the most courageous player award in 2001. He won two AFLPA most valuable player awards in two of the three premiership years. He was the first Brisbane player to win the Brownlow Medal, and he won the club best and fairest five times.

After retiring he coached the Lions for over 100 games with little success, but no-one could deny the enormous respect in which he was held by his peers over his long football career and his importance in establishing Brisbane as a respected AFL side.