This is a story all about the game, and the hardcore business, of the code once known as Aussie Rules. It may have slipped from public memory, but it remains a bitter pill in the hearts of some followers of one football team. In 2011, the AFL signed a $1.25 billion television rights deal—so it’s hard to imagine that, a little over a decade ago, a debt of a few million dollars was enough to send one of Australian football’s foundation clubs under. But that’s what happened to the Fitzroy Football Club.
In the early days of the Victorian Football League, Fitzroy was king of the code—they were known as the Maroons, and in the early decades of the 20th century, they won seven premierships. Between the wars, they came to be known as the Gorillas, and in 1944, they snatched another premiership.
But since that last wartime victory, Fitzroy’s prowess began to dwindle—and even with the moniker ‘the Lions’, they finally became known as the ‘lovable losers’.
And so it was, in 1996, that the Lions of Fitzroy were no more. In their wake, a new football team emerged, up in the steamy northern city of Brisbane.
This story charts the events of that year, which involve debt, treachery, betrayal and cold hearted business pragmatism. One-eyed Fitzroy fan Jack Kerr documents the demise of Fitzroy, and the rise of the Brisbane Lions.
The program features passionate fans and veteran players, as well those inside the club, whose fight to keep Fitzroy alive is embodied in the team’s old anthem ‘In Defeat We’ll Always Try’.