Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
Palm Beach Currumbin shook the foundations of the QAFL competition in 2022 when it went within moments of a match-up with Aspley in the Preliminary Final, a team that would ultimately salute as the number one team in the competition.
Despite ranking seventh in attack across the 2022 season; the Lions played hard contested football across 2022 that made it very difficult to score against.
Losing Liam Jones mid-season enroute to his ultimate return to the AFL would hurt PBC; but not as much as losing Tyler Cornish in the midfield that formed the key to the midfield alongside Tommy Thynne, Ashton Crossley, Zac Harrison and AJ Dawson. The quintet would form the most fierce and hardest tackling midfield in the competition.
Palm Beach Currumbin only defeated one team in the top six across the home and away season (Noosa +6) but its heaviest loss all season to a top six team was in Round 14 against Broadbeach (+27) in horrendous conditions. Due to fixturing, the pair played against each other the following week and the Lions went down by 12-points after leading by 17-points at the first change.
The Elimination Final win over Labrador was something incredible. After kicking one goal in the opening term; Malachi Dumas and Cory Beaman stunned the opposition to lead the Lions to a thrilling and unlikely five-point victory to keep their season alive.
In a repeat of the previous week, the Lions kicked one goal in the opening term against Redland Victoria Point in the Semi-finals and trailed by 30-points. In an extraordinary finish where scores were tied late in the last term; Matt Hammelmann produced a Tony Lockett-esque kick with a point to put the Sharks in front and through to week three of the finals.
Did this group peak too early? Absolutely not. The 2022 season showcased that the 2019 Grand Finalists are the most difficult team in the competition to face and its depth from top-to-bottom is outstanding.
The Lions have had a multiple change in Senior coaching personnel in the off-season. Russell Maloney finished his tenure at the club following the completion of the 2022 QAFL season.
Sean Millane was appointed to the head role during the off-season but recently stepped away from the position citing work and family commitments.
This week: the club appointed 192-AFL-gamer Jess Sinclair as its coach for the 2023 season. Sinclair played 50 games at Fremantle and 142 at North Melbourne after making his debut in 1997.He has previous coaching experience in the VAFA.
Armitage joined the club in the off-season after retiring from St Kilda in 2019 with 169 games under his belt.
Originally from Mackay where he made his Senior debut at just 14; he joined Morningside as a 16-year-old in 2005 where he represented the Under 18s Queensland team and played in a Senior QAFL Grand Final. He was drafted with pick 9 the following season: paving a stronger path for developing footballers in the region.
Dean Trewarn, Hamish Mitchell and Glen Clark have taken on roles as assistant coaches.The Lions have welcomed a number of star players including 200-AFL-gamer James Frawley who comes to the club with experience at Melbourne, St Kilda and Hawthorn while even putting on the boots for the Gold Coast VFL team as a fill-in.
QAFL 2019 Grogan Medalist Frazer Neate crosses to the club where he joins joint 2019 Grogan medal runner-up Tommy Thynne; where both now will play as team-mates.
Hard working small midfielder and goal kicker Ti Cuffe also joins the team from the Sunbury Kangaroos in the Essendon District Football League. Cuffe is a dual Senior premiership winner in the EDFL and Riddell District Football Netball League and is a league best and fairest runner-up. He’ll add quality endurance and toughness in the midfield.
The leading X Factor in the team will be Tyler Cornish who is a noted hard-nosed midfielder that wins lots of the ball and is a noted goal kicker.
Cornish missed the second half of the 2022 QAFL season due to a leg injury and missed the Lions just missing out on a Preliminary Final after going within a whisker of taking down the Sharks in the semi-finals.
Fixture rating based on 2022 final Home and Away standings
3, 11, 1, 9, 12, 10, 3, 2, 11, 7, 4, 10, 5, 9, 6, 1, 2 = 110
With eight games against the five other 2022 finalists; the Lions have a solid fixture ahead of them. The opening six weeks will be a test with four games against teams who finished above them on the ladder. If it can return a result of 3-3 at least; it will build momentum through the middle of the season.
Just one game against a top six team from 2022 in the final five weeks certainly helps with Labrador, a team they play twice across the season who will be eager to extract revenge from the 2022 Elimination Final.
Considering the strength and experience the Lions have added to the team; it is a draw that is more than favourable as they hope to start and finish the season strongly and return to the finals yet again.