2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Corey Lambert

Corey Lambert is one of the great football journeymen. He travelled far, wide and often in pursuit of the Sherrin, and all that goes with it, and left an indelible impression on the game in Queensland as a Grogan Medalist in a premiership side at West Brisbane in 1996.

It was a special highlight in a career that spanned 260 senior games in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia; four premierships; three best & fairest awards and two League medals.

Originally from Werribee in Melbourne’s south-west outskirts, he moved to Queensland with his Mum at 16 and joined the Sherwood Under 17s in 1989. In 1989 he represented Queensland at the national Teal Cup Under-17 carnival and learned an invaluable lesson about standards and what was required for maximum performance that shouldn’t be lost on young, aspiring players.

“I wasn’t fit enough and didn’t play well,” Lambert said.

“Football had never been a big thing in our family – it was more a way of keeping out of trouble growing up in a rough area. I always loved it but in hindsight I wish I’d been more dedicated earlier, but it just wasn’t a priority.”

So much so that after the Teal Cup he was going to have a year off and just play for fun at the Ipswich Cats. But there he met a bunch of other football journeymen and followed them to West Brisbane. And five years later he was crowned the #1 player in the QAFL.

It had been a tough time for football in Brisbane’s western suburbs, with neighbouring Sherwood and Western Districts having amalgamated in 1991 to form West Brisbane. Wins were scarce, and in 1995 they were wooden-spooners, but in 1996 everything came together perfectly under coach Danny Craven and captain Cam Bulley.

After an indifferent 5-5 start to the season, they flourished under the brilliance of Lambert and ex-Essendon/Sydney AFL player Mick Werner and won 11 of 13 games to qualify for the Grand Final. The match was played at the Gabba and televised on Channel Seven and was the club’s first visit to the ‘big dance’ since 1979 and their first flag since going back-to-back in 1977-78.

They went in underdogs after an eight-goal loss to Geoff Jennings’ Mt Gravatt in the major semi-final, and were four goals down at halftime. But after a stirring halftime address from Craven and a string of positional changes, most noticeably a masterstroke that sent soon-to-be AFL draftee Max Hudghton to centre half forward, they kicked 13 goals to one in the second half.

Brett Zeidler won the Joe Grant Medal as best afield, but Lambert was a huge part of it all. “The boys just loved him. He was a real players’ player … hard at it, skillful, very team-oriented, great leader. Enormously strong through the hips, he was a bit like an Ollie Wines,” said Bulley.

It capped a massive two years for Lambert and an even bigger September. In 1995 he’d gone into the Grogan Medal vote-count among the hot fancies, abstained from drinking and polled only nine votes. So, in 1996 he decided just to enjoy the night. Sitting on a fun-filled Wests table he did exactly that, especially when he finished well clear at the top of the leaderboard with 24 votes to join some of the elite of Queensland football.

He went out on a high, lured to South Australia in 1997. Initially he was to join ex-Brisbane Bears club champion Martin Leslie at Port Adelaide, but he ended up at Woodville-West Torrens.

“I learned pretty quickly I wasn’t the player I thought I was”, he admitted.

Lambert two years under ex-Brisbane Bears captain Mark Mickan before moving on again.

In 1999, playing with North Albury in the Ovens & Murray League, he had the perfect year. He won the League’s Morris Medal and was best-on-ground in a grand final win. In 2000 he represented Victorian Country at the Australian Country Championships in Wagga and won All-Australian Country selection but North Albury lost the Ovens & Murray League Grand Final.

In 2002 he fulfilled a long-time dream to coach at North Albury, winning the flag in his first season, before losing the preliminary final in 2003 and the Grand Final in 2004 before it was time to rebuild. Having retired in 2004, he coached the club for two more years.

In 2007 he switched clubs to the Wodonga Raiders in the same league, taking them to the finals three years in a row, and also coached the Ovens & Murray League representative side.

As family and business commitments became a priority, he stepped down to minor league football and in 2017 moved back to Brisbane for business reasons with wife Lisa, to whom he has now been married 21 years, with children Lara and Zach, now 18 and 15. Living at Thornlands, he enjoyed some time coaching the juniors at Victoria Point.

He moved back to Albury in 2020 for business reasons, but as fate would have it, he found himself back as caretaker coach at North Albury after ex-Carlton player Karl Norman quit early in the season. Now, though, the priority is work. He is General Manager at InoTec Australia/New Zealand, a technology and software company involved in high-end scamming solutions that see him work with the ATO, ASIC, the Australian War Memorial and State archives and libraries.

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