Scoring sore point hurts Brisbane Lions’ hip pocket
BRISBANE officials would have looked out over the Gabba with envy on Saturday afternoon.
Well before the club was smashed by a Brent Harvey-inspired North Melbourne in their AFL clash, the Lions confronted the UWS Giants in the curtain-raising NEAFL fixture.
While the hosts would go into the main game with Brent Staker and Daniel McStay spearheading the attack, Jonathan Patton, James Stewart and Cameron McCarthy lined up for the GWS reserves.
That game was over at quarter-time after the visitors kicked eight goals to one, before going on to boot 26 to 11 and record a 97-point victory.
Patton kicked five majors to give him 12 in his past two games since coming back from his latest knee reconstruction, Stewart four, and McCarthy one after being omitted from the senior team this week.
Stocking three of the game's most promising young key forwards in the seconds highlighted an embarrassment of riches for the league's newest franchise.
In contrast, it's a poor state of affairs for one of league's first expansion clubs when it has to use a battle-weary veteran and a struggling teenager to carry its attack.
Brisbane added just five goals in the seniors to make it 23 in the past four weeks.
Missing prime-movers Pearce Hanley and Dayne Beams didn't help, but even when they were out on the park it was clear that possessing a midfield as good as the one Brisbane assembled this season wouldn't translate into goals without quality forwards.
And with the Lions anchored to the bottom of the ladder, their fans have clearly found something better to do than go and watch them live.
Average home crowd numbers (19,226) are now at their lowest since the last time the Lions bottomed out in 1998 - that is despite having just over 25,000 members, and almost 10,000 more than 17 years ago.
At their peak in 2004, they were attracting 33,559 to games on the back of a membership of 30,941.
While the AFL is most fearful of soccer's impact, the more immediate threat in Queensland continues to be the old enemy, rugby league, especially when the Broncos and Cowboys occupy the top two spots on the NRL ladder and the Suns and Lions the bottom two on the AFL table.
Gold Coast has had its issues, but will come out the other side of this season better for it … and have an abundance of tall options to ensure it does.
Brisbane has plenty of long-term prospects. Matt Hammelman has shown promise in the NEAFL, while Jono Freeman has just returned to the seconds after an ankle injury and Michael Close is making steady progress from a knee reconstruction.
But, trying to recover from a ballooning $13 million debt, the Lions can't afford to wait to put goals on the scoreboard, and in turn bums back on seats.