2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Andrew Raines

Ask Andrew Raines about the biggest crowd he ever played in front of, and he’ll tell you 86,468 for his 50th game for Richmond against Essendon at the MCG in 2007, just ahead of 87,043 against Carlton at the MCG in 2008. No surprise, really. It’s what football is all about.

But ask him about his third-biggest crowd and you will get a surprise. It was 82,177 at Croke Park, Dublin on 5 November 2006, when he was a member of the Australian International Rules team that played Ireland in front of the biggest crowd in the history of international sport in Ireland.

After Australia had lost the first Test under lights in Galway 40-48, they won the second Test 69-31 in Dublin to claim the series on averages in what was the last official game for his tour roommate, freshly retired Brisbane captain Michael Voss.

It was one of the special highlights of Raines’ 12-year AFL career with Richmond, Brisbane and Gold Coast that spanned 129 games from 2004-15. “In hindsight, given I never played in the finals, it was probably the highlight … an incredible experience overall,” he reflected.

Born 8 March 1986 in Melbourne, Raines is 213 days older than the Brisbane Football Club, which was ‘born’ on 7 October 1986 when a syndicate headed by Paul Cronin and Christopher Skase, in partnership with the QAFL, was awarded a licence to join the competition in 1987.

He was there, at least spiritually if not physically, when the Bears played their first game on 27 March 1987 and his father Geoff was a star performer in a 33-point Friday night MCG win over North Melbourne that shocked the football world.

“I don’t really remember Dad playing football until I was about three, but I do remember standing near the race before he ran out for his 250th game at Carrara. It was Rodney Eade’s 250th game too.”

Having moved to Queensland aged 10 months after Raines Snr was one of the Bears’ key foundation signings, Raines Jnr was educated at Marymount College, Burleigh, and learned his football with Palm Beach Currumbin and later Southport. Undersized and young but wonderfully skilled, he played three senior games at Southport and was drafted by Richmond with pick #76 in the 2003 AFL National Draft.

“As a kid you’re drawn to the MCG, especially with Dad’s history at Richmond, so it was good result at the time,” he recalled, having played one game in 2004 and five in 2005 before a break-out season in 2006 saw him become one of the League’s most exciting young talents.

Having taken on the #4 jumper his famous father wore through most of his decorated 254-game career with Richmond, Collingwood, Essendon, and Brisbane, he played every game in a Tigers side that finished ninth.

He was a narrow runner-up to captain Kane Johnson in the Tigers best and fairest and runner-up to Port Adelaide’s Danyle Pearce in a hot field in the NAB AFL Rising Star Award. He polled 33 votes, behind Pearce (43) and ahead of Collingwood’s Heath Shaw (32) and Carlton’s Marc Murphy (13).

Melbourne’s Clint Bartram, Hawthorn’s Grant Birchall, Brisbane’s Michael Rischitelli and Collingwood’s Dale Thomas completed the final leaderboard, while Melbourne’s Nathan Jones and North Melbourne’s Andrew Swallow, later to captain their respective clubs and win three best and fairest awards, and West Coast’s Mark LeCras, a 219-game premiership player and best and fairest winner, did not poll a vote among the 22 weekly nominees.

Andrew played a full 22-game season with Richmond in 2007 in year one of a lucrative contract before a major knee injury with recurring complications kept him to five games in 2008-09. Enjoying a strong personal connection to Brisbane via Voss, the then coach, and football manager Graeme Allan, who had played at Collingwood with his father, he was traded north.

“It was one of the best things I did – reconnecting with Queensland and meeting a lot of great people in a great football environment,” he said.

Joining the club where his father played 59 games from 1987-89 to close out his career, and where older brother Nick had been rookie listed in 2002-03, he played 67 Lions games from 2010-14 as a midfield tagger.

Almost prophetically, he transferred in 2015 to the Gold Coast, where Marcus Ashcroft, who had played his first season in the last season of Raines Snr, was football manager, and Eade, his father’s milestone mate, was coach. All at the ground where his father had finished 26 years earlier.

It was part of a plan to play a leadership/on-field coaching role in the SUNS Reserves before moving into coaching, but he played six senior games as an over-age rookie before taking over as Head Coach of the Gold Coast Academy in 2016 – a role he filled for six years.

Firmly entrenched on the tourist strip with wife Alyse and son Zander, and having completed a business degree at university, he also established ‘One on One Football,’ an online platform connecting accredited coaches with footballers for private coaching Australia-wide that exploded through COVID times and now operates in each state and territory.

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