I am writing to you to implore you to use your authority as the governing body of our great game and finally step in and hold Justin Leppitsch and Tom Rockliff to account for their obvious horrific behaviour.
I have been watching Access All Areas and reading Sliding doors for the past couple of years and it has become incredibly clear to me that Leppitsch and Rockliff have clearly kicked Damian Barrett’s dog, hit on his partner, made a “your mommas so fat” joke or texted private video footage of Barrett…they must have for him to be so upset with them for such a long period of time.
Over the past two seasons (going back to round one 2015) Barrett has referenced the Lions at least 49 occasions in Sliding Doors (where he must say at least ‘something’ about them) with 27 clearly critical or negative references and 9 backhanded references or side swipes. In that time, he made 13 positive, supportive, or reasonable comments about the Lions. However, in 4 of those her also carried a negative or a back handed side swipe in the same segment.
I know they haven’t been the best couple of years for the club. I have named my three sons with a name that means “Lion” because I love the club, so I feel the pain of our results, especially when those three “Lions” of mine are now coming to the age where they notice we lose each week. I’m just glad they haven’t been able to read Barrett’s columns.
In Sliding Doors Barrett reminded us of the horrors of the nineties, something he can only begin to imagine. Let me explain what it was like.
When I started watching the Brisbane Bears it was not an easy task. The games were delayed broadcast, mostly really late at night. If we lost by ten goals it was considered a nail biter, I didn’t understand a single thing that was happening whenever a high-tackle was called for a gentle touch on the neck when the bloke was lying down, and when someone discovered you were watching “GayFL” and would call you a poofter who liked watching blokes in tight shorts running around playing aerial ping-pong.
I remember the nineties and how void of hope we were that we eventually wouldn’t be humiliated forever.
Then came Voss, Aker, Leppa, Lynch, Black, Lappin, Matthews, Brown, Power…some of the greatest the game has ever seen. However, most of us learning the game had no idea how special they were going to be.
I remember watching a game in 1997 (the year the Brisbane Bears were to become the Brisbane Lions) where it clicked, I finally understood the game and all the nuances of players running off the ball, screening your team mate, body position, rebound running and so much more. I watched the games each week since 1987 when the Bears entered the competition without having a clue what was happening, but I am stubborn and patriotic so I kept watching.
I lived in Melbourne for six years and loved going to the footy with my hotdog sausages in a thermos and making my own hotdogs as I attended the handful of Lions games played in Melbourne.
I vividly remember taking my wife to the Pies v Lions one night where the Lions had a great win. Brennan kicked seven goals and that game was the first night game and the first MCG experience for my wife. It was also the first time she had seen a mostly toothless 80-year-old Nanna Collingwood supporter scream obscenities that I couldn’t repeat to…well…my Nanna.
I remember where I watched the 2001 Grand Final and Brisbane premiership. I remember watching the 2002 Grand Final and the back to back effort, I remember the three-peat and the joy that my some of my closest friends at the time were Collingwood supports. I remember the moment Nathan Buckley left the Brisbane Bears to win premierships and the joy when we won two playing against him.
I write to you as the AFL for a purpose. Can you please make Leppa and Rocky apologise to Barrett for how they offended him so I can once again read or watch someone…anything…from the AFL that makes being an AFL supporter in Queensland enjoyable and hope filled again? Can you please heal this rift so that while I have less memories I can celebrate with a losing team that I have at least something letting me know it will once again be OK?
I so desperately desire the feeling of hope the we might be on the verge of new players like Aker, Vossy, Brown, Black and even if not premierships, to at least be competitive in a way that it feels ‘possible’ for us to win each week.
I long for the day to return where it’s not so exhausting being an AFL supporter in Queensland where we have to chase media content about our team, and when the AFL provides it to us through things such as Access All Areas and Sliding doors it either ignores us altogether or on eighty percent of occasions it makes a negative or side swipe comment about my team.
I feel the losses; I don’t need Damian Barrett to tell me about them.
We have lost so many players over the past few years and clearly as a club the Lions got a bunch of things wrong. I know they did because Sliding Doors referenced it on at least nine occasions in the past two years. However, strangely enough the fact that nineteen players have recommitted to the club this year has never been mentioned.
Let me be honest, Damian Barrett can say whatever he wants in his newspaper columns, podcasts, TV appearances and I will simply choose not to read, listen, or watch if don’t like his opinion. In fact, I am not even suggesting that what he says is always unfair and harsh, sometimes even I feel it can be a reasonable criticism.
However, on afl.com.au (the only consistent and accessible source of content outside of lions.com.au) is something harder to walk away from and I just wish to go there and find regular content celebrating being an AFL supporter in Queensland.
I don’t have Foxtel, don’t get to see the Footy Show, Footy Classified, or anything AFL related in Queensland. I get afl.com.au and there I get Damian Barrett.
I want my team to develop and get better, that is up to the board, CEO, coaching staff and players to achieve. However, as the AFL, I feel you can ensure that being a fan of your game isn’t so much fricking hard work. Please?