The Brisbane Lions made AFL history when the won an AFL premiership hat-trick in 2001- 02-03, confirming the ‘arrival’ of the game as a major sport in Queensland. Coached by Leigh Matthews and captained by Michael Voss, they were just the fourth side in history to win three flags in a row, emulating the feat of the Carlton side of 1906-07-08, and the Melbourne sides of 1939-40-41 and 1955-56-57, and ranking behind only the four-in-row Collingwood premiership sides of 1927-28-29-30.
But such was the enormity of their effort in an altogether different environment to their great predecessors, curtailed by such factors as the draft and the salary cap and burdened by an enormous travel load, that many regarded this as the greatest side of all time. Among them was Ron Barassi, star of the great Demons outfit of the 1950s and AFL Hall of Fame Legend. He suggested the Lions of the 21
The talent pool is also larger. And the draft and the salary cap are made to even up the competition and stop the dominance of one side.” In 2001 the Lions had become the first side from a non-traditional state to win the game’s highest honor, but the enormity of their hat-trick wasn’t fully appreciated until the 2008 grand final when a supposed dynasty at Geelong was brought undone by Hawthorn, so denying the Cats two flags in a row and a chance to even challenge the Brisbane effort.
The Lions experienced three contrasting emotions on grand final day – a 26-point win over Essendon as underdogs in 2001, a ninepoint win over Collingwood as raging hot favorites in 2002, and a 50-point flogging of Collingwood when besieged by in 2003.
Shaun Hart won the Norm Smith Medal in ’01, Collingwood skipper Nathan Buckley in ’02 and Simon Black in ’03. A total of 28 players were involved in the premiership hat-trick – Jason Akermanis (3), Marcus Ashcroft (3), Simon Black (3), Daniel Bradshaw (2), Jonathan Brown (3), Blake Caracella (1), Jamie Charman (1), Robert Copeland (2), Richard Hadley (1), Shaun Hart (3), Des Headland (1), Chris Johnson (3), Clark Keating (3), Nigel Lappin (3), Justin Leppitsch (3), Alastair Lynch (3), Beau McDonald (2), Ashley McGrath (1), Craig McRae (3), Mal Michael (3), Tim Notting (2), Martin Pike (3), Luke Power (3), Brad Scott (2), Chris Scott (2), Aaron Shattock (1), Michael Voss (3), Darryl White (3)
st century could rightfully claim to be the best of all time. “What Brisbane has done is a better achievement,” said Barassi. “The game was a lot smaller in those days. There are 25% more teams and the game now embraces the entire nation.