The Brisbane Lions displayed a remarkable improvement 2019 over 2018 and while they could not advance, despite two home finals, they are expressing rampant optimism for the Toyota 2019 AFL Premiership competition.
Of course, with the season just a little over a month distant, even Gold Coast is undefeated.
Still, for Brisbane, the season appears promising and the off-season was long enough to supply that degree of amnesia that have the Lions prowling for a second visit to finals after not qualifying since 2009.
That finals appearance saw them squeak by Carlton, only to result in a lopsided 107 – 56 loss to Western Bulldogs in the semifinal.
Stefan Martin, a 182- game veteran (57 with the Roos) appears to have found the magic elixir that has him consistently on ground.
His first season with Brisbane (2013) was the exception, where he made just five appearances. Since making 12 appearances in 2014, Martin has played 20 or more games from 2015 through 2019.
Now 33 years of age, Martin knows he may be staring squarely in the face of time, so he is counting his blessings and trying to do anything for another chance to play finals in 2020.
“The buzz and the excitement were just everything I could’ve hoped for and more,” Martin told AAP when describing his first chance to run out for a final. “Then to go out in straight sets in home finals after working so hard to get those chances it was heartbreaking, really heartbreaking.”
It is not rare to see clubs return from finals disappointment hungry and determined to improve. It is hard to improve on a top-two home-and-away finish, but the Lions missed the minor premiership on percentage only.
Anything in top four would be welcome in 2020, but more welcome would be some finals redemption.
Martin said as much when he continued, “Great to see that guys, myself included, who hadn’t tasted it – just a taste wasn’t enough. We wanted to make hay while the sun shines. We didn’t do that but new year, new chance.”
A word of caution to Martin, “Beware the Ides of March,” but we doubt whether the Bard was alluding to the start of the 2020 AFL season.