At the end of any year, it is often a time to reflect. This is no different for sports fans looking back on the most recent seasons of our favourite sports.
There have been various moments this year within the domestic sports scene that have added to the tapestry of each league’s history. While these moments might not seem connected within the space of the last twelve months, there seems to be a common thread stemming from the sunshine state that connects some of these domestic competitions in what can be only described as a domino theory for the ages.
It starts on the first Saturday in February at Optus Stadium with the Brisbane Heat playing the Perth Scorchers in the final of the 12th Big Bash League season. The Brisbane Heat would bat first setting a decent total of 7 for 175 for the home side to chase. And with three overs left in Perth’s innings needing 38 runs, according to ESPN Cricinfo, Brisbane had a 78 per cent of winning the match and claiming their second title. However, Perth found a way to score 38 runs in the space of 14 balls and defeated the Heat. On its own, a completely separate event but in the wider context of the year would be the first of many dominos to topple.
A couple of months later, the second domino would fall in rugby union. The Queensland Reds would feature in the Super W Final against the reigning champions in the Fijian Drua. This year would see the Reds return to the final after missing last year for the first time in their history. Coming into this game, they would be the favourites with the Drua only just getting into the finals. But Fiji would pull off a 38-30 upset win and keep the Reds from achieving a maiden Super W title.
Now it is often very common for teams in the same state in two different competitions to lose a final, in most if not every year. However, the last weekend of September would give legitimacy to the notion of these events being connected.
Heading into the world of AFL, the Brisbane Lions would return to the big dance after a nineteen-year hiatus. Meeting them on the occasion would be the same side they met twenty years ago at the same location in Collingwood. The majority of the game was spenttoing and froing between Collingwood and Brisbane holding very small leads of two goals or less with Collingwood holding their nerve to beat out the Lions in the final stages.
Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury celebrate a Collingwood goal against Brisbane. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Despite the close result, the attention of most in Queensland would quickly turn to Homebush for the NRL Grand Final. Three matches would be played on the day consisting of three Queensland teams. The beginning of the Queenslander despair came with the state championship game with the Queensland Cup’s Brisbane Tigers playing South Sydney’s NSW Cup side. It quickly became apparent in the game that Souths would be the victors finishing the game 42-22.
The second match was the NRLW Grand Final with the Gold Coast Titans playing in their first GF in club history against defending champions Newcastle Knights. Being the underdogs, the Titans would jump out to an 8-0 lead and then an 18-12 lead early in the second half and had a shot. But Tamika Upton’s two tries for Newcastle would put an end to the Titans’ chances, seeing them lose to the Knights.
The third and final match for the day would be the NRL Grand Final featuring the Brisbane Broncos; hoping to prevent a Penrith three-peat as well as breaking the club’s longest period without a premiership of seventeen years. With twenty minutes left, it looked like every chance that Brisbane would win but thanks to the brilliance of Nathan Cleary, Brisbane fumbled a sixteen-point lead and the Grand Final.
Reece Walsh. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
In the space of 48 hours, four Queensland teams would compete in four Grand Finals in some of Australia’s biggest domestic sports leagues resulting in zero premierships to bring back into the state. This series of misfortune events seems to be unprecedented but the rabbit hole only goes deeper.
The next domino to fall would be in football with the Brisbane Roar. They would finish 8th and 9th in both their men’s and women’s A-League competitions. However, the bright spot would come through the men’s side who had managed to earn themselves a spot in the Australia Cup final. Up against Sydney FC, the Roar would take a 1-0 lead after eighteen minutes and the dream of some silverware was alive. But in the second half, Sydney would score three unanswered goals and put the result beyond doubt.
The last domino to fall in a cursed year for Queensland sides would be the Brisbane Heat. This time, it would be their WBBL team who made the final. It would be against the Adelaide Strikers in Adelaide. At the innings break the Heat looked likely to chase down the Striker’s total of 125, but they would fall just short to the Strikers by three runs to see Adelaide go back-to-back.
Even sports or leagues that aren’t state, or city-based have seen this trend spread. You only need to look at this year’s V8 Supercars Championship with Triple Eight Race Engineering (based in the North of Brisbane) finishing in second place within the Constructers Championship behind Erebus.
While there has certainly been a fair share of losses for teams based out of Queensland, there have been some successes. For instance, the WNBL’s Townsville Fire would claim the title after sweeping both the Perth Lynx and Southside Flyers 2-0 in the final series.
In the aptly named VFL, the Gold Coast Suns would win their maiden premiership in club history. In the third season of Hockey One, the Brisbane Blaze men’s and women’s teams would become champions for the first time for both teams. And capping it off would be the Brisbane Lions claiming their second AFLW premiership over North Melbourne.
This has certainly been a remarkable anomaly in the last twelve months in the domestic sports scene. Taking a glass-half-full approach, to have seen as many as twelve teams get that far in the majority of our professional sports leagues should be celebrated. Let’s see if another state can top it next year.