11:45 PM Wed 23 Nov, 2011
The Brisbane Lions’ proud history came to life on Wednesday night when the Club unveiled its new memorabilia display at Etihad Stadium.
Close to 600 of the Lions’ Victorian faithful became the first people to see the impressive - and much-travelled - collection of Fitzroy artefacts which will now be permanently housed at the Docklands venue.
It proved a significant event in recognising the merged Club’s origins, as a host of former Fitzroy players, officials and supporters took a trip down memory lane to view the vast array of rare items and collectables.
The grand opening proved a culmination of many years of hard work by the Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions Historical Society who, headed by Arthur Wilson, have been responsible for collecting, storing and maintaining Club memorabilia since the merger.
The Fitzroy-Brisbane Lions Past Players and Officials Association have also assisted with the project.
Among some of the more noteworthy articles were seven of Fitzroy’s Premiership Cups (1898, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1913, 1916 and 1922), Jim Freake’s 1915 VFL leading goal-kicker trophy, an original lace-up guernsey from 1904, 100 year-old membership cards, the football used in Fitzroy’s record-breaking 190-point win over Melbourne in 1979, Fitzroy’s original Team of the Century print, and a genuine players’ cap from the 1913 Premiership season.
The exhibit - which is largely focussed around Fitzroy’s 114-year existence - also acknowledges the Bears’ role in VFL/AFL history as well as the merged Lions’ recent three-peat triumph.
A match-worn (and unwashed) Brisbane Lions 2001 Grand Final guernsey kindly loaned from Chris Johnson proved one of the more contemporary pieces on display.
An emotional Fitzroy Legend Kevin Murray, who was given a private tour of the display before attending the official opening, said the finished product was far greater than he ever imagined.
“It’s an eye-opener - there’s no doubt about that,” nine-time Club Best & Fairest winner Murray said.
“It’s just amazing to see all our history from way back in the 1890s to 1996. I saw my late father in the 1944 Premiership photo which brought a tear to my eye.”
“Personally, Fitzroy has been my family. My father played there, my late brother Ron played thirds and seconds, and my younger brother Dan played thirds and seconds as well. So we have been associated with Fitzroy for about 75 years.”
“There were also photos of some of the men who created a lasting impression on my life from when I was just 16 and first started with Fitzroy - guys like Bill Stephen, Colin Davey, Jack McGregor, Don Furness, Owen Abrahams and Norm Johnstone.”
Murray said the Fitzroy spirit lives on with the Brisbane Lions and was thrilled that his former club’s long history would now be accessible for future football generations.
“We are very fortunate that we did join the Brisbane Lions in the end because they helped resurrect Fitzroy by winning those three Premierships,” Murray said.
“We’re very grateful to the Brisbane Lions because Fitzroy definitely would have been gone and forgotten (had they not merged). We’re 100% behind them and they’re 100% behind us, and that’s fantastic.”
“It’s amazing how they’ve been able to resurrect so much memorabilia, because we shifted from pillar to post, and at different times some of the memorabilia was stored away and some of it was stolen.”
“It’s terrific to see what Arthur Wilson and his crew have done and we’re very grateful to Etihad Stadium for giving us the opportunity to honour some of our champions.”
“Now when the people of the younger AFL generation who don’t know about Fitzroy come to Etihad Stadium, they can see our history - and that’s enormous.”
“When any football person walks through this room either before or after a game that’s played here, a lot of them will be saying ‘Geez, I wish our club could have something like this because this history is amazing’.”
The Brisbane Lions will provide further details soon on how you can organise a viewing of the new memorabilia display, but in the meantime please find below some images that were taken from the grand opening:
Historical Society Custodian Arthur Wilson and Historical Society President Doug Coldham enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Kevin Murray stands in front of the 1944 Fitzroy Premiership photograph that features his father. Kevin also didn't disappoint by typically wearing his famous 1969 Brownlow Medal around his neck.
A collection of old Fitzroy memorabilia including a wide range of old membership cards dating back from as early as 1922.
Some of the Brisbane Lions items on display including Chris Johnson's 2001 Grand Final guernsey and a replica of Simon Black's 2002 Norm Smith Medal.
The Bears' history is also recognised including an original guernsey worn during their first season in 1987.
Kevin Murray's custom-made, one-of-a-kind Lions shoes also proved a discussion point during the evening.
An impressive assortment of silverware on display including seven VFL Premiership Cups, the 1978 Night Premiership Trophy and George Coates' Jack Titus Award.