It is a rare footballer who, at 25, is offered and signs a 10-year playing contract, and an even more rare footballer who has to extend his 10-year contract because he’s out-lived it. That’s Alastair Lynch.
A born-and-bred Tasmanian, he was a 25-year-old 120-game Fitzroy All-Australian in the prime of his career when he joined the Brisbane Bears on an historic 10-year deal in 1994. One of the very special recruits all-time to Queensland football. So special the Tasmanian Hall of Famer is now a Queensland Hall of Famer.
It’s a double that reflects the magnitude of an extraordinary AFL career that spanned 17 years, 306 AFL games and a key role in the 2001-02-03 Brisbane Lions premiership hat-trick that did so much for the code in his adopted state.
More than just an outstanding player, he was a key marketing and promotional tool for the game at a time when it needed it most. Having moved from Carrara to the Gabba in 1993, the Bears had won just four games in their first season in Brisbane.
The hugely successful ‘I’d Like To See That’ advertising campaign was in full swing, but it needed more and the 195cm fullback turned full forward was a huge part of it. A ‘face’ that even non-AFL people in Queensland got to know well.
Working with major sponsors like Coca Cola, he became a prominent regular in the Brisbane media – a ‘face’ on Channel Seven and a newspaper columnist for almost as long as he played. And in retirement he became a ‘Fox Footy’ commentator. Having lived longer in Queensland than he had in Tasmania and Victoria combined when he turned 50 in 2018, he was ‘the Queensland guy’.
Born in Burnie on Tasmania’s north-west coast, he went to Burnie High and played football at Wynyard before moving to Hobart to play under the legendary Peter Hudson. A supreme athlete who was also a prospective State cricketer, he was drafted to Fitzroy with pick #50 in the first AFL National Draft in 1986.
The only 300-gamer to come out of his draft year, he took the 1989 AFL Mark of the Year in his 30th game – a hanger against North at the MCG in Round 16 – and was one of the elite players in the competition in 1993 when he topped the Fitzroy goal-kicking with 68 and won the club best and fairest. He was All-Australian the same year – at fullback – after playing regularly on the some of the great key forwards in his earlier years such as Ablett, Dunstall, Lockett, Carey, Kernahan, Sumich and Longmire.
But Fitzroy, VFL premiers in 1898-99 and 1904-05-13-16-22-44, were on a downward spiral amid mounting financial pressures. The Brisbane offer was too good to refuse.
He kicked an equal career-best eight goals in a brilliant Bears debut as a mobile centre half forward in 1994, but after struggling through Round 1 1995 he fell victim to what was later diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He inadvertently became the public face of the then mystery illness, and when he returned to football in 1996, he was a different player. More of a stay-at-home full forward, but a powerhouse for the next nine years.
He shared the Brisbane captaincy with Michael Voss from 1997-2000, a concept that was something of an AFL rarity at the time, before standing down. When the Lions won their first flag in 2001, Voss had intended to share the presentation dais with his long-time partner but forgot in the heat of the moment. It didn’t matter. Lynch had finished with the ball in hand on the final siren, holding it aloft in what became an iconic photo. And as fate would have it, he shared the cup presentation with Voss and coach Leigh Matthews in 2002.
Part of a lethal strike-force during the Lions’ golden years with Jonathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw, he topped the Brisbane goal-kicking in 1996-2000-01-02-03. Six times he kicked 50-plus goals in a season, headed by 74 in 2002 and 78 in 2003. He kicked five or more goals in a game 40 times.
At his best in the big games, he kicked 2-4 in the 2001 grand final and would have been a Norm Smith Medal contender if he’d kicked straight and followed with hauls of 7-5-4 in the 2002 finals and 3-6-3-4 in the 2003 finals.
In Round 16 2004, he became the 43rd player in history to reach 300 games, celebrating with a 36-point MCG win over Collingwood. At 36 years 28 days he was and remains the oldest player of all-time.
At the time of his retirement after the 2004 grand final loss to Port Adelaide, his 633 career goals ranked 20th all-time in AFL history, and his 65 goals in 20 finals was 5th all-time. Going on 19 years later, he is 30th all-time overall and 6thin finals.
A member of the Tasmanian State of Origin side that famously beat Victoria at North Hobart Oval in 1990, he was named in 2003 in the Tasmanian Team of the Century, and in 2005 was an inaugural inductee to the Tasmanian Hall of Fame. In 2019 he joined the Lions Hall of Fame.
Father to Madison, Tom and Claudia with wife Peta, he is the only person in history to play for the Brisbane Bears, Fitzroy and the Brisbane Lions, and an adopted superstar of Queensland football.