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Updated: 07/10/2009

Brisbane Bears

1996 Brisbane Bears Stamp To the surprise of the football world the Bears, along with the West Coast Eagles, were chosen by the VFL to be the first expansion clubs since the packing off of South Melbourne to Sydney in 1982. It was assumed that a club from the traditional football area of South Australia would join the Western Australian club.

The Bears initially did it tough although they won a creditable six matches in their first season. 

Front of 1996 Brisbane Bears Booklet

Along with ridiculous player concessions and the basing of the club on the Gold Coast at Carrara the club managed to loose approximately $27 million and almost folded with the Christopher Skase Quintex collapse.

It was left to Ruben Pelerman, a Gold Coast businessman, to save the club. After loosing $3.3 million over the next two years he quickly saw the necessity for the club to revert from private ownership to a membership based structure and the club moved to the
Gabba in Brisbane.

From Brisbane the clubs performance both on and off the field markedly improved culminating in the club making the eight in 1995 and finishing third in 1996. Michael Voss became the first and only Bears player to win the Brownlow Medal in 1996.

The club merged with the Fitzroy Lions on the 1st November 1996 to become the Brisbane Lions.

The Bears chose Roger Merrett, their game record player, and 1996 Captain and assistant coach as their player on the Maximum Card, Post Card and Stamp Booklet

Brisbane Lions

Following the stepping in of an administrator at Fitzroy, and the clubs scuttling of a merger with North Melbourne, the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears merged on the 1st November 1996 to become the Brisbane Lions. The new team adopted the old Fitzroy pre-season jumper with the red reverting back to the original maroon, a colour, along with the gold, common to both clubs and a new song to the music of Fitzroy's old song, the French National Anthem.

At right is the Brisbane Lions Prepaid Stamp.

Brisbane Lions Prepaid rubber stamp impression

The 1997 season  was marred by injury to several players and the Lions finished a disappointing 8th. Worse was come with internal fighting and a change of coach mid season and the Lions finished last in 1998. Stability returned in 1999 with the appointment of "Lethal" Leigh Matthews and the Lions climbed up the ladder to fourth after loosing the preliminary final to eventual premiers Northern Kangaroos.

The 2000 season was marked with the release of club and individual 2000 Personalised Stamps. Following some good late season form the lions finished 5th.

The 2001 season started slowly but a mid season run saw them heading for a top four finish. The season was marked with the release of club and individual 2001 Personalised Stamps.

The run continued and the Lions charged into the Grand Final on the back of 15 wins, a club record. Grand Final week traditionally starts with the Brownlow Medal Count on the Monday. The Lions did not travel to Melbourne due to the "Ansett Collapse" but had their own function at the Gabba. Michael Voss was second favourite but Jason Akermanis scooped the pool to become Brisbane's second medalist after Voss.

On Friday the team participated in the Grand Final Parade much to the delight of the old Fitzroy fans. On Saturday over 91,000 people saw the Lions win their First Premiership by defeating Essendon by 26 points.

The 2002 season started off like 2001 with the Lions unbeatable at home. The season was marked with the release of club and individual 2002 Personalised Stamps.

On the 19th May 2002 Roger Merrett  became the first Bear to be inducted into the combined Hall of Fame at a luncheon at the Town Hall. Along with 15 new inductees, taking the total inductees to 38. Haydn Bunton became the first "Legend". A cover by First Class Collectibles was released to commemorate the event. (see below)

Fitzroy Brisbane Lions 2002 Hall of Fame Cover

2002 again ended in success with the Lions defeating Collingwood by nine points in the Grand Final to take their Second Premiership. Simon Black won the Brownlow Medal, Jonathon Brown won Mark of the Year, Jason Akamanis won Goal of the Year and six players won All Australian Selection.

Simon Blacks winning of the Brownlow medal was well deserved and topped off a stellar year with All Australian Selection and a second Premiership. First Class Collectables released two covers to commemorate Simon Black as the Brownlow Medalist. and two covers to commemorate Simon Black as an All Australian. Coversplease. released a cover to commemorate Simon Black as the Brownlow Medalist and as a Premiership Player,

The 2003 season again started off  with the Lions unbeatable at home. The season was marked with the release of club and individual 2003 Personalised Stamps. On the 5th April 2003 the Brisbane Lions Skipper, Michael Voss, played his 200th game. First Class Collectibles released a cover  to commemorate the event.

Despite dropping to third on the ladder and then loosing the qualifying final to Collingwood, the Lions fought back to make the 2003 Grand Final against Collingwood, the same opponents as in 2002. The result was also the same with the Lions winning their Third Premiership in a row. Justin Leppitsch, Nigel Lappin and Michael Voss won All Australian Selection with Voss as Captain.

2004 started with the Lions favourite for the flag. In mid April the 2004 Personalised Stamps were released. This year they were a booklet of 20 stamps showing 10 players, rather than the A4 sheet. Alistair Lynch was named in the Premiership Players Club and on the 17th July he played his 300th Game. On the 12th June at the Telstra Dome Jason Akermanis played his 200th AFL Game. He also won All Australian Selection along with Chris Johnson, Nigel Lappin, Simon Black and Luke Power.

The Lions again made it to the 2004 Grand Final but were unable to equals Collingwood's feat of Four in a Row from the 1920s, going down to Port Adelaide.

On the 1st April 2005 the Brisbane Lions booklet of the 2005 Personalised Stamps was released. On the weekend commencing 29th July 2005 Luke Power played his 150th Game for the Lions.
A Commemorative Covers showing
Power was released by First Class Collectables. First Class Collectables issued covers  to commemorate the Best and Fairest winners including Jason Akermanis for Brisbane,

On the 20th March 2006 the Brisbane Lions booklet of the 2006 Personalised Stamps was released. Round 16 was the Heritage Round with clubs wearing jumpers from a previous era. Onlycovers released a cover for each club including the Brisbane FC.

The Lions finished down the ladder in 2007 with Australia Post issuing the 2007 Personalised Stamps. 2008 and 2009 were rebuilding years with them finishing in the bottom half of the ladder in 2008 but making the finals in 2009 finishing sixth. Australia Post changed from the Prestige Booklet to the Folder format issuing the 2008 Personalised Stamps and 2009 Personalised Stamps.