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Brisbane’s horrific Grand Final run has officially turned a corner


Brisbane Grand Finals, 2023, 2024

It’s truly hard to wrap your head around how many top grade Brisbane teams have made Grand Finals in the last year-plus.

The blessed, or maybe cursed, sports-loving city has been through an unprecedented phase; its teams have reached just about every decider in that span. And all that sounds great, but there was a huge catch.

The community, in actuality, had to weather a period of heartache and heart-breaking near misses. It was a phenomenon that dated back to November 2022, when its beloved Lions were beaten by Melbourne in the AFLW Grand Final at Springfield.

Who could’ve guessed that that defeat, now some 14 months ago, would trigger a year of shattered hope, which was coincidentally ended by the same event a full year later.

But the tide is changing in the river city; moods are back on the rise. Call it, perhaps, the start of a Heater, after the Brisbane brigade claimed the BBL|12 title in Sydney… of all places.

Things got real for the team in teal at the SCG, claiming the franchise’s second Big Bash championship after a near-flawless season.

It’s hard not to believe the group were inspired by the city’s unparalleled run of decider-reaching campaigns. Its AFLW team ultimately ended the heart-wrenching streak to cap off 2023 in a big way and now Brisbane might just have itself the start of a brand new trend.

Brisbane’s crazy run of Grand Final losses

Wrap your heads around this wild series of defeats in deciders, headlined by the Panthers’ infamous, soul-crushing heist, coming from way behind to out-score the Broncos in the NRL Grand Final at Homebush. Don’t forget, that was only 24 hours after the Lions’ Men’s team were edged out by Collingwood at the MCG.

2022 AFLW Grand Final (November 27)

Melbourne Demons beat Brisbane Lions by 4 points

This was the beginning of the run. But even passionate Lions supporters – at least some of them – can look back on it now and be happy for Daisy Pearce hoisting the premiership cup — it was a fantastic story for one of the sport’s trailblazing players.

AFLW Grand Final Melbourne Demons beat Brisbane Lions
Daisy Pearce (left) and Tayla Harris (right) celebrate premiership glory in 2022.

2023 BBL Final (February 4)

Perth Scorchers beat Brisbane Heat by 5 wickets

The Heat caught a few teams by surprise, particularly the ever-consistent Sixers, reaching the BBL|11 decider. But Perth had an outstanding campaign and ended up capping off yet another title for Big Bash’s most successful outfit.

2023 Super W Final (May 6)

Fijian Drua beat Queensland Reds by 8 points

It’s starting to get ridiculous, isn’t it? At Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium, the Brissie-based Queensland Reds went down 38-30 to the Fijian Drua in the Super W decider.

2023 AFL Grand Final (September 30)

Collingwood Magpies beat Brisbane Lions by 4 points

The Pies broke through for a memorable drought-breaking win in only Craig McRae’s second season as coach of the side. It was one of the best deciders in recent memory, with less than a kick separating the two sides, ultimately. The lead changed enough times throughout the match to leave both fan bases feeling like they’d aged an extra 10 years through the four exhilarating quarters.

2023 NRL Grand Final (October 1)

Penrith Panthers beat Brisbane Broncos by 2 points

Just like the AFL finale, who could forget this.

We can all picture young gun Ezra Mam running away for one of his three second half tries, which helped the Broncos open up a 24-8 lead over Penrith with only 24 minutes remaining. But then, Nathan Cleary’s legacy moment happened and, as they say, the rest is history.

nathan cleary, penrith panthers
The Penrith Panthers have won three straight NRL GFs off the back of Nathan Cleary brilliance.

We won’t include it in the official records, but on the same day at Accor Stadium, Queensland copped another loss; in the NRLW decider. The Gold Coast Titans lost 24-18 to reigning champs the Newcastle Knights, having shown immense promise that season.

2023 Australia Cup Final (October 7)

Sydney FC beat Brisbane Roar, 3-1

The Roar had a 1-0 lead over Sydney at halftime in the Australia Cup final, before the Sky Blues netted three times after the break to cap off even more misery for Brissie.

2023 WBBL Final (December 2)

Adelaide Strikers beat Brisbane Heat by 3 runs

This is starting to get ridiculous, right? After some nail-bitingly, heart-breaking tough losses, the Heat come up three runs short in the Women’s Big Bash League decider as well. Outrageous.

2023 AFLW Grand Final (December 3)

Brisbane Lions beat North Melbourne by 17 points

The drought-breaking premiership; the streak finally ended.

Just one day after yet another loss, in the WBBL Final, the pain finally ended for folks in the river city.

2024 BBL Final

Brisbane Heat beat Sydney Sixers by 54 runs

Could this be the start of something special?

After back-to-back GF victories, the tide appears to be turning. So how’s 2024 going to look?

Brisbane’s AFLW team will be in the thick of premiership calculations, as they attempt to defend their crown.

Both the Broncos and Lions will start as true blue premiership contenders in the NRL and AFL for 2024, respectively. Those two campaigns will, of course, be scrutinised to within an inch of their respective lives, given how 2023 ended for both teams and the immense pressure they’ll be set to shoulder, looking to bounce back.

Reece Walsh's 2023 NRL Grand Final pain
Reece Walsh‘s 2023 NRL Grand Final pain

The Heat in the BBLW will have enjoyed seeing the Men’s outfit reign supreme and will be desperate to exact that success, after falling agonisingly short last season. And there’s no reason they can’t take it one step further this time around. And the same goes for the Queensland Reds in the Super W, despite pretty stiff competition.

The Brisbane Roar currently sit ninth in the A-League Men’s, meaning they’ve got plenty of work to do to reach the postseason and compete for more football gold. The Roar’s Women’s outfit, like the Men’s, sit in third-last spot and unlikely to challenge for silverware.

Football aside, though, Brisbane is in the reckoning for plenty of championship gold in 2024 and you can’t doubt the fact that so many of its teams will have the extra motivating factor of pain and redemption, mixed with the inspiration that the city’s AFLW and BBL teams have provided.

Picture of Phil Prior
Phil Prior
Phil is the editorial lead at Only Sports, bringing more than 12 years of wide-ranging sports media experience to the team. But it’s his unrivalled passion that sets him apart. He also commentates AFL on SEN Radio, plus Rugby on Stan Sport. Find Phil on LinkedIn.

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