Collingwood’s Victoria Park was of one the most intimidating AFL venues in its day. Full of character, it was more than a home ground – it was a fortress.
So when Steve McLuckie, 45 days beyond his 19th birthday, played his first game for the Brisbane Bears at Victoria Park in Round 2 1992 it was a big assignment. But after two hours of torment from Magpie fans in a 66-point loss he walked off the ground one very proud young man.
He had 25 possessions, four tackles and four goals – all team highs – as Collingwood’s Mick McGuane kicked a career-best five goals, Troy Lehmann a career-best four goals and ex-Fitzroy favorite Gary Pert picked up two Brownlow Medal votes in his first game in black and white.
It was one of the great AFL debuts by a Queenslander, right up there with Stephen Lawrence’s 24 possessions and five goals for Hawthorn in 1991, Darren Carlson’s 26 possessions for the Bears in 1987, Michael Voss’ 28 possessions for the Bears later in 1992 and Josh Smith’s 23 possessions and a goal for Collingwood in front of an Anzac Day crowd of 85,082 in 2016.
Born in Newcastle, Steve was a Surfers Paradise junior from age seven before a move to Southport, where he was a State Teal Cup representative 1989-90 and a Sharks Under 19 and Reserves premiership player.
Drafted by the Bears as a zone selection in the 1990 AFL Draft, he stamped himself as a player to watch with an heroic performance in the 1991 Bears Reserves premiership win, snapping two mercurial goals in the second half. Only afterwards did the then 18-year-old Year 12 Merrimac High School student reveal he’d played the grand final with a broken left hand and a broken finger on his right hand. He’d carried the broken hand for six weeks and had broken his finger in the first final three weeks earlier and had surgery two days later to have a pin inserted in his left hand.
He played 13 senior games with the Bears in 1992 and seven in 1993, played for the Queensland State of Origin side against NSW in Sydney in 1992 and in 1993 was a member of the Queensland/NT Origin side captained by Jason Dunstall which posted a famous 34-point victory over Tasmania at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.
He played 70 games with West Adelaide in the SANFL from 1994-98, twice finishing third in the best and fairest before returning ‘home’ to Southport in 1999 to close out his career with back-to-back flags in 1999-2000, thereby completing a rare U19-Reserves-Seniors hat-trick. He played for Queensland against Victoria in ’99 and won the Joe Grant Medal as best afield in his last game in the 2000 QSFL Grand Final, putting a fairytale full stop to his career when he kicked four goals off the wing.
In 2008 he was named in the Southport Team of 1983-2008, celebrating the club’s first 25 years in the QSFL, and in 2012 he won a spot in the Surfers Paradise Team of 1962-2012 and was inducted into the Southport Hall of Fame.
He founded the Helensvale State High School AFL Academy in 2001, and from 2001-09 coached two Queensland Under 15 State championship teams and three Queensland Open State championship teams. From 2004-08 he coached the Under 16 South Coast schoolboys to a record five State championships in a row.
Later, in a distinguished career in education, he was Principal at Southport State High 2010-14, Executive Principal at the Gold Coast-based Varsity College 2015-19, and Executive Principal / Chief Executive of the Australian International School in Dubai.