Andrew Ireland

Andrew Ireland

A hugely-admired all-round football person who will forever have a place in Queensland football history as a pioneer of the code and Chief Executive of the first Brisbane Lions premiership side in 2001. And that after a key role in moving the former Brisbane Bears from the Gold Coast to make their home at the Gabba in Brisbane, and a massive all-round contribution to the code’s development in the Sunshine State. Born in London, he moved to Australia with his family aged four and was a football graduate of Preston Swimmers and Ivanhoe Amateurs, where he won All-Australian Amateur selection.

Played 110 AFL games with Collingwood from 1975-80, including four grand finals in 1977 (two), 1979 and 1980 for three losses and a draw, plus two night series grand finals for a win (1979) and a loss (1980), and twice represented Victoria. A biochemistry and teaching graduate, he worked as a football development officer at Collingwood before retiring aged 27 at the end of 1980 to pursue a full-time career in football administration.

He moved north as QAFL State Director of Coaching in 1981 and in ’82, after 12 months on the sideline, made a short-lived comeback to finally enjoy premiership success as a key member of the 1982 Mayne side under Mick Nolan. A Queensland selector from 1981-90, he was a key figure at all levels of the football ‘tree’. After six years as State Director of Coaching (1981-86) he was appointed QAFL General Manager in October 1986, filling a vacancy created by Ken Murphy’s appointment as first CEO of the Brisbane Bears.

Then he took over as Brisbane Bears CEO in March 1990, taking up office at Carrara on an open platform that the then struggling club, under the ownership of Reuben Pelerman after the collapse of Christopher Skase’s Qintex empire, should be based in Brisbane. And by 1993 they were. In addition to his key role in the relocation he contributed significantly to the redevelopment of the Gabba and the amalgamation of the Brisbane Bears with Fitzroy on 4 July 1996 to form the Brisbane Lions.

A director of the Queensland Australian Football Foundation from 1990-1996, he was also a member of the 1996 Queensland AFL Review Committee whichwas a pre-cursor to the establishment of the AFL Queensland Football Commission, where he was a director from 1997-2001. Also established a youth-first football policy that would later culminate in the Lions’ historic premiership triumph in 2001-02-03.

He stepped down after the club’s first grand final win and after a much-needed 12-month break from the game joined the Sydney Swans, first on a consultative basis in 2002 and later as head of the football operation in 2003. Grabbed a unique developing states double when the club won the 2005 AFL premiership – their first based in Sydney.

Received the Australian Sports Medal in 2001, was awarded Brisbane Lions Life Membership in 2004 and AFL Life Membership in 2006.

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