Expansion Canberra

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Roylion

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If you could have chosen, would you have preferred Brisbane, the Power Lions, or the Canberra Lions?
Canberra-Fitzroy Lions wearing the red, royal blue and gold FFC jumper for all non-Canberra home games and the exact same jumper with a CFC logo for the Canberra home games. Bruce Stadium as home ground. Brunswick Street / Fitzroy Club Hotel as their Melbourne training base and social club.
 

Canberra Pear

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I agree that already being at 16 clubs at that point was a complication, but when it's all said and done, it's pretty clear that Canberra was not on the AFL's wish-list.
Compare these sorts of half-baked ideas being thrown around with the hundreds of millions of dollars the AFL has thrown at the Suns and the Giants to get them off the ground.
The AFL was never, ever going to do that for a Canberra team, and will never do it.
I'll just say it again, sitting around the board table, at no point has the possibility of an AFL team being based permanently in Canberra ever been on the agenda.
Canberra hasn't been a priority. I'll admit that. Second teams in the all the major capitals have been, and should have been the priority.

But we've definitely been on the agenda.

Second teams in Sydney and SEQ have been part of an even larger priority. Crushing the rugbies. Canberra is an important battleground. We have an AFL-leaning population, but two professional rugby teams. Not something they can let stand. We might not be priority no. 1, but I would think we've been included in more than a couple of conversations regarding that battle.

Whether they actually want a team in Tasmania or not, they're also seriously discussing that. Discussions on who to move, or what to create in Tasmania, are seriously being talked about at the board table. Tasmania might be the next cab off the rank, but we know the AFL doesn't do expansion in singles. If a relocation can't happen, the AFL will want a 20th team for TV rights to pay for the expansion. You don't think Canberra would pop up somewhere in that discussion?

The AFL have so much foresight these days it'd be ridiculous to think Canberra isn't on their radar.

I believe it's likely Canberra will have a team before 2040. I would be genuinely surprised if we didn't have a team by 2050.

Then depending on advances to science, we'll take back Phil Davis and play you for the Phil Davis Cup.
 

Canberra Pear

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Canberra-Fitzroy Lions wearing the red, royal blue and gold FFC jumper for all non-Canberra home games and the exact same jumper with a CFC logo for the Canberra home games. Bruce Stadium as home ground. Brunswick Street / Fitzroy Club Hotel as their Melbourne training base and social club.
I could've definitely lived with that. Canberra's not too far for a Melbourne road trip either!
 

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Gigantor

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It was on the agenda. In 1995 and early 1996. Dyson Hore-Lacy has said to me personally that it was a possibility.

There was however, no way a Canberra team was going to be set up from scratch.
I have no doubt that Canberra footy people were pushing hard.
I have no doubt that Fiztroy was entertaining just about anything to stay alive.
But I would maintain that it never, ever got serious consideration out of HQ.
 

Gigantor

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Or the other evidence we have that the AFL wanted to remove Fitzroy at all costs outweighed anything else that you can take away as a Canberaa team.

The Canberra deal to Fitzroy was a relatively good financial one, but the AFL had their Melbourne-based team rationalisation with Fitzroy in their crosshairs and there's every chance the financials of the Canberra deal could have been doubled - or halved - and it wouldn't have knocked the AFL of its course.

The point that's trying to be made is that the generous support from Canberra financially and otherwise for the Fitzroy deal proves that it could have supported a team, because if it believed that it couldn't, it never would have put the support up in the first place.
Well...as long as things remain pie in the sky, absolutely anything seems possible.
But the proposal never got any further than being pie in the sky and wishful thinking from a club which was about to disappear forever.
I mean seriously, how often do we see an AFL facility turned permanently into a rectangular stadium?
You never see it.
That tells you everything you need to know about this proposal.
 

Roylion

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But I would maintain that it never, ever got serious consideration out of HQ.
Define "serious". It was under consideration.

- Fitzroy won approval in 1995 to play a home game in Canberra
- AFL commissioner Ian Collins spoke in favour of 4 home games in 1996. Fitzroy put an official application to do just that. Dyson Hore-Lacy was told personally that it was being considered.
- The ACT chief minister was in favour of it. The ACT government had offered to upgrade Bruce Stadium, if there were two national teams playing out of it.
- There was a formal proposal in writing by Ainslee, the Canberra Raiders and the AFL for Canberra group for it to happen.
- Ron Evans said the commission would consider the proposal if Fitzroy were prepared to play a majority of their home games in Canberra. Fitzroy offered seven.


- HOWEVER the AFL's immediate priorities were to keep the competition at 16 teams by seeking a merger of clubs and strengthen the Brisbane Bears, in the immortal words of John Kennedy, for "strategic reasons." It was made very clear by another commissioner, that the reason Fitzroy's application to play home games in Canberra was rejected because the Commission wanted to keep the pressure on Fitzroy to merge.
 
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Gigantor

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Define "serious". It was under consideration.

- Fitzroy won approval in 1995 to play a home game in Canberra
It was just the one home game (even Alice Springs gets AFL games).
The ground that was used was permanently converted to a rectangular stadium a couple of years later.
By 1996, TV money was already front and centre of AFL thinking, and the truth is, a Canberra team doesn't add one brass razoo to the value of the broadcast rights.
Was the case then, remains the case now.
 

Canberra Pear

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Well...as long as things remain pie in the sky, absolutely anything seems possible.
But the proposal never got any further than being pie in the sky and wishful thinking from a club which was about to disappear forever.
I mean seriously, how often do we see an AFL facility turned permanently into a rectangular stadium?
You never see it.
That tells you everything you need to know about this proposal.
Yes, when there were still four or so other cities ahead of Canberra for expansion (including a Port Adelaide entry and Brisbane merger to make sure were stable), and a perfectly adequate (and more central) Manuka Oval, the AFL did not use their dollars and political weight to keep Bruce as an oval.

The AFL not pushing for Bruce didn't matter too much then, and matters even less for an AFL team now.

Regarding other stadiums, it takes very little time to Google. The Swans' former ground, Lake Oval, is now a rectangular soccer stadium.

The other closest conversion to a rectangular field was ANZ Stadium. The AFL didn't push that hard to keep it an oval with recent redevelopment plans and the only thing that saved the configuration was Covid destroying the redevelopment budget. I would love to see ANZ utilised more, but I can't see it getting much AFL use in the future, so I wouldn't back the AFL putting dollars in at the next redevelopment.
 

Canberra Pear

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It was just the one home game (even Alice Springs gets AFL games).
I think you're smart enough to recognise Canberra being a more suitable option than Alice Springs, but just in case, I'll lay it out for you.

Alice Springs annually hosts the same amount of games as Canberra did in 1995. Canberra has hosted three matches most years since and came very close to playing seven, but you picked 1995. Good cherry picking.

Alice Springs only gets a game because of its cultural significance. Alice has 25k people. Nobody is arguing their ability to host a team of their own.

Alice Springs also didn't host a game until 2014, and has only hosted a single annual game since. They've now totalled seven games ever. 37k have attended games in Alice.

Comparatively, Canberra now hosts three games a year and has hosted 53 matches, which have averaged double the attendance of Traeger Park. 570k have attended games in Canberra.
 

Badger17

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Canberra-Fitzroy Lions wearing the red, royal blue and gold FFC jumper for all non-Canberra home games and the exact same jumper with a CFC logo for the Canberra home games. Bruce Stadium as home ground. Brunswick Street / Fitzroy Club Hotel as their Melbourne training base and social club.
Surely you realise that that set of circumstances never would have lasted though.

If the Canberra deal had got off the ground then there would have inevitably come a time when the ACT government, and other stakeholders in Canberra, would have said move to Canberra fulltime and become the Canberra Lions or the deal is off.
 

Roylion

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Surely you realise that that set of circumstances never would have lasted though.
So eleven home games with the Fitzroy Football Club Ltd., (trading as the 'Canberra Lions') wearing the red, royal blue and gold CFC jumper for Canberra games and the FFC logo jumper for Melbourne games. Bruce Stadium as home ground. Brunswick Street / Fitzroy Club Hotel as their Melbourne training base and social club.

Doesn't seem much different.

If the Canberra deal had got off the ground then there would have inevitably come a time when the ACT government, and other stakeholders in Canberra, would have said move to Canberra fulltime and become the Canberra Lions or the deal is off.
So no Canberra AFL games at all, as opposed to 7-8 games? Who/what would have filled the void?
 

Badger17

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So no Canberra AFL games at all, as opposed to 7-8 games? Who/what would have filled the void?
I'd rather have none then be used, or should that be abused, as a sugar daddy for a failing club that wants to have it's cake and eat it too. Same is true of most people from Canberra whom are paying attention, and it's the same thing that is coming to a head in Tasmania.

So yeah it would have only been a matter of time before an ultimatum of become a Canberra team or go away was put to Fitzroy, and frankly I find it strange that you think that it could have ended in any other way.
 

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Roylion

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I'd rather have none then be used, or should that be abused, as a sugar daddy for a failing club that wants to have it's cake and eat it too.
Of course we want the best of both worlds. Why wouldn't we? Maintain our heritage and part of our Melbourne identity and survive in the AFL competition by a partial relocation with financial support and revenue raising opportunities, not far over the Victorian border (which was on offer). Canberra get regular AFL games and more games than they do at the moment with GWS. Also has the added effect of promoting Australian rules football in NSW and then ACT.

So yeah it would have only been a matter of time before an ultimatum of become a Canberra team or go away was put to Fitzroy, and frankly I find it strange that you think that it could have ended in any other way.
As I said above. Read it again.

Eleven home games with the Fitzroy Football Club Ltd., (trading as the 'Canberra Lions') wearing the red, royal blue and gold CFC jumper for Canberra games and the FFC logo jumper for Melbourne games. Bruce Stadium in Canberra as home ground. Brunswick Street / Fitzroy Club Hotel as the "Canberra Lions Melbourne training base and social club.

It may have come to this point eventually but not for quite a while.

Tell me when you think GWS will no longer be welcome in Canberra, because Canberra wants their own stand alone team. It's now been 25 years since Fitzroy's Canberra proposal.
 
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threenewpadlocks

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I'd rather have none then be used, or should that be abused, as a sugar daddy for a failing club that wants to have it's cake and eat it too. Same is true of most people from Canberra whom are paying attention, and it's the same thing that is coming to a head in Tasmania.
This doesn't make any sense because the people of Sydney don't seemed to have dismissed the fact that they got a relocated team with its previous history, and that hasn't inhibited the growth of new fans post-1982, so why would the opposite be true for Canberra?
 

Gigantor

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This doesn't make any sense because the people of Sydney don't seemed to have dismissed the fact that they got a relocated team with its previous history, and that hasn't inhibited the growth of new fans post-1982, so why would the opposite be true for Canberra?
It's not equivalent, I'd say you haven't understood the point he is making.
If anything, you are actually proving his point.
 

Established1870

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If you think about it, North to Canberra in the mid 90's (preferably 97/98) would've been the perfect outcome for the AFL for the following reasons;

1) Evens up Victorian/Non-Victorian sides more and keeps the comp at 16
2) Gives Canberra an instantly competitive team that's gunning for flags and doesn't need to worry for a 4-5 year build
3) Spearheaded up forward by two locals (one being the best in the game) in Carey and Longmire
4) A capital club with the Kangaroos moniker makes too much sense
5) If Sydney's anything to go by, then there'd still be a sizable amount of support in Melbourne for the Roos which gives them a healthy amount of supporters and members
6) Give this team enough COLA to go after a certain Brownlow Medalist from Essendon who wore the #5 jumper at the time
7) Super League fallout means there's definitely a lot of potential support for a strong footy team from the off
8) Shores up a fair bit of the Barrassi Line between Sydney and Melbourne if there's a team in the middle
9) Better broadcasting rights with a Canberra team


Fitzroy's best chance probably would have been relocating to Brisbane back in 86. Keep players like Roo and Lynch, stop Skaise and Cronin ever getting involved in the game, get access to top QLD players like the Bears did which means Voss, Aker, Bucks and others still come through and the Lions dynasty might happen 5-10 years early. It's pretty obvious that by the time Fitzroy began exploring the Canberra option and potential mergers that Oakley and Collins wanted them gone so they were never staying but at least they would have kept most of their identity and history instead of getting taken over by the Bears.
 

Roylion

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Fitzroy's best chance probably would have been relocating to Brisbane back in 86. Keep players like Roo and Lynch, stop Skaise and Cronin ever getting involved in the game, get access to top QLD players like the Bears did which means Voss, Aker, Bucks and others still come through and the Lions dynasty might happen 5-10 years early. It's pretty obvious that by the time Fitzroy began exploring the Canberra option and potential mergers that Oakley and Collins wanted them gone so they were never staying but at least they would have kept most of their identity and history instead of getting taken over by the Bears.
The Fitzroy board was always very conscious of giving their members and supporters a team to support in Melbourne. Hence their preference to merge with a Melbourne based club. Or a relocation that wasn't too far from the Victorian border that supporters could possibly attend games

In order my preferences were the following:
1. Melbourne Lions - (Melbourne jumper with gold lion on front)
2. Footscray Lions (rather than Fitzroy Bulldogs). Footscray jumper with white horiziontal stripes changed to gold and FFC logo added
3. North Melbourne Lions (rather than North Fitzroy Kangaroos) Some sort of new jumper that combined the Fitzroy and North Melbourne jumper
4. Canberra Lions (red and royal blue jumper with gold CFC logo)
5. Tasmania (Hobart / Launceston) Lions (Fitzroy jumper with a gold TFC logo perhaps)
6. Adelaide Lions (yes there was a merger proposal from Adelaide in 1996. Current Adelaide jumper with a gold lion added somewhere, Fitzroyish away jumper worn in Melbourne)
7. Brisbane Lions (red Fitzroyish jumper they currently wear in Melbourne)
8. Sydney Lions (Fitzroy jumper with SFC gold logo)

The 'Canberra Kangaroos' definitely does seem a good fit for any possible future North Melbourne relocation. I can't see it happening though.
 

Established1870

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The Fitzroy board was always very conscious of giving their members and supporters a team to support in Melbourne. Hence their preference to merge with a Melbourne based club. Or a relocation that wasn't too far from the Victorian border that supporters could possibly attend games
I know, and in hindsight the North or Melbourne merger proposals would've been the best outcome for Fitzroy (and probably North or Melbourne as well). But like the Swans showed when they moved up to Sydney, a relocation doesn't mean it'd kill off the club's history and identity if things are done correctly, and a move to Brisbane in 86 keeps a potential flag contending side intact too.

6. Adelaide Lions (yes there was a merger proposal from Adelaide in 1996. Current Adelaide jumper with a gold lion added somewhere, Fitzroyish away jumper worn in Melbourne)
I'm aware of this and you might be able to clarify but I remember reading about proposals for Fitzroy to jump into bed with the Crows, Port and Norwood at one stage or another. I remember the Norwood-Fitzroy idea meant home games at AO as the Norwood Lions while the Fitzroy-Port stuff was just a way to get Port in the AFL, get Fitzroy out of the AFL and keep the clubs at 16 in one go.

The 'Canberra Kangaroos' definitely does seem a good fit for any possible future North Melbourne relocation. I can't see it happening though.
Neither do I but 25-30 years ago, North going to Canberra would've been like fitting a hand in a glove. Everything was perfect for it to work. Even now, the Canberra Kangaroos makes a lot more sense than North relocating to Tassie (who deserve their own side).
 

threenewpadlocks

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I know, and in hindsight the North or Melbourne merger proposals would've been the best outcome for Fitzroy (and probably North or Melbourne as well). But like the Swans showed when they moved up to Sydney, a relocation doesn't mean it'd kill off the club's history and identity if things are done correctly, and a move to Brisbane in 86 keeps a potential flag contending side intact too.
90's footy was a lot different to today though. Games weren't nationally televised, ground rationalisation wasn't in full effect with greater difficulty in attending away games in Melbourne, and with 2 more non-Melbourne teams added it's more accepted of being a national competition. You can't blame a Fitzroy supporter for not looking through the lens of what footy would look like in 20-25 years time. Whilst the Swans have done well to maintain that history.

Remember Swans fans were able to keep in touch with Sydney given the live broadcast of games on a Sunday into Melbourne through the 80's. A similar sort of broadcast arrangement wouldn't have naturally occurred for a Canberra or Brisbane Lions in the late 80's or early 90's. Two separate TV deals in 1998 and 2001 which heightened the broadcast quality and accessibility of the AFL wouldn't have been obvious to a Fitzroy fan earlier in the 90's, hence the desire to remain in Melbourne.
 

Canberra Pear

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Neither do I but 25-30 years ago, North going to Canberra would've been like fitting a hand in a glove. Everything was perfect for it to work. Even now, the Canberra Kangaroos makes a lot more sense than North relocating to Tassie (who deserve their own side).
I'm not advocating for a relocation, because North get crapped on a lot, but if they were to make a permanent move, I'd say they'd be a good fit.
  1. The Canberra Kangaroos really rolls off the tongue.
  2. We really do have a shedload of kangaroos. I've seen them in my suburb countless times.
  3. They have a bit of history here and I'd say they'd have a bit of support still floating around. They still have two of our highest three crowds.
  4. They're inoffensive. It would be harder to get people to support the Canberra Hawks or Canberra Magpies, but it's easier to get on board a neutral team like the 'Roos early on.
  5. We don't have any Kangaroos in the major AFL Canberra competition. We have the Yass 'Roos in the lower grade, but not prominent enough that people might feel dirty following them.
  6. The blue and white is a good contrast to our local derbies in Sydney.
  7. The blue and white stripes could become the city colours of blue and gold for an annual Canberra Day match.
To me, a new team would work better. Expansion coinciding with Tassie to keep the teams even. But if it came to it and the 'Roos were relocated here, I wouldn't complain.
 

Roylion

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I'm aware of this and you might be able to clarify but I remember reading about proposals for Fitzroy to jump into bed with the Crows, Port and Norwood at one stage or another. I remember the Norwood-Fitzroy idea meant home games at AO as the Norwood Lions while the Fitzroy-Port stuff was just a way to get Port in the AFL, get Fitzroy out of the AFL and keep the clubs at 16 in one go.
Adelaide's proposal was for the "Adelaide Lions" (so Adelaide could gain a Melbourne supporter base)
South Australian Cricket Association proposed a Norwood-Fitzroy merger with the Adelaide Oval to be the "Norwood Lions" home.
The AFL themselves proposed a Port Adelaide - Fitzroy merger to be known as the "Port Power Lions" to keep the competiion at 16 teams
 

Percel

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If you think about it, North to Canberra in the mid 90's (preferably 97/98) would've been the perfect outcome for the AFL for the following reasons;
Not because its my club, and i live in Canberra, but how much angst would it have caused moving a club in its premiership window, having just won one. imagine the chaos if BF had been around?
 

Roylion

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Not because its my club, and i live in Canberra, but how much angst would it have caused moving a club in its premiership window, having just won one.
That's correct. Many in the football community and North supporters couldn't believe they were even considering a merger with the club on the bottom of the ladder. Many consoled themselves with the thought that the merger would be a takeover and that North would continue on with a slight identity change. If there was no merger in 1996 there certainly wasn't going to be a relocation to Canberra a year or two later.
 
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