My fellow Brisbane Broncos enthusiasts. It’s been a pleasure my whole adult life to be a fan, supporter and member of the club.
I have been reflecting on what the past 28 years has meant to me. The images that come to mind are those of champions, like the three Ls: Wally Lewis, Allan Langer and Darren Lockyer.
This is a small story about a big club. It was back in the late 1980s when the Brisbane Broncos came into the Winfield Cup.
The team was young, fast and eager to succeed. The coach was a tall man with tight morals and a strong work ethic. It was contagious to be a Broncos supporter in the best rugby league competition in the world.
Some called it the Queensland resurgence. The club grew bigger and stronger and went on to build a lasting legacy of success, including six premierships. It seems lately this has faded and we the fans need to take back our club.
It’s been quite a journey these past couple of decades and we held together through some stormy seas and bad weather. In the early days the Broncos were responsible for the morale of the state of Queensland.
It was back in 1992 when I was contemplating joining the Australian army, the Broncos were finals-bound. The team trained hard, and were comrades in arms. I sat and watched the grand final like a new kid in school and when they won I celebrated like a schoolboy at play lunch. Fantastic.
In that year the Broncos started a dynasty that would go into folklore. Once, when at Lang Park, I was wearing my team’s jersey. A fellow fan, who had also come early, saw me and stood up. He shouted, “Hello Broncos fan, hello champion.” It was a small moment but very meaningful for me.
Wayne Bennett was called a poor communicator. He was in fact an excellent communicator. It wasn’t his style, flair or the words he used – it was the content. He wasn’t a great orator but he communicated great things.
One of the things about being a Broncos fan was that you were always united. The team spent a lot of time travelling on buses and on planes, behind tinted glass. They saw my wave too late and couldn’t return it but we were always connected.
People ask how I feel about coach Anthony Seibold and CEO Paul White leaving the club this year. Part of that is sweet sorrow. The sweet is the anticipation of next season and the sorrow is the current state of this once proud club and of course the goodbyes.
The Clive Berghofer Centre is now where the Broncos live. There are a few places I like to stand and watch the team train. Over the field on mornings when the fog is thick, you can see staff attending to their duties, curating a professional surface. Some say that is the view Clive had when envisioning the future. I see more simple things. The grass on the field and morning traffic as people make their way to work. I have been reflecting on the view and the past at Red Hill a lot recently.
In the same year the Broncos were inducted into the competition they started a serious push for the title. They concentrated on defence, mastering tackling styles, attack and searched the state for the best young talent. Soon the club had a big supporter base and sponsorship was easily picked up.
Some pundits said our season would come to nothing more than a wooden spoon. Our supporters and proud fans were not taking the bait. I remember one highly respected commentator say back in 1992 that the Broncos engine was not big enough and the team would likely fade out of the competition completely and stay that way.
Shortly there after I came to a fork in the road in my personal life. I didn’t initially intend on joining the army but I was raised to believe you have to pay your way for the blessings bestowed upon you. I was a happy student. I went into the army to protect something precious.
As a club we need a rediscovery of our values and our common sense, and some discipline. When you are requested to do something you try your hardest to comply. We need to base our decisions not on words but on action. We must work together to lessen and eliminate mistrust.
Ben Ikin has officially put his hat in the ring to administrate the Broncos in 2021. He understands the problems of our club and has vowed to fix them. He can address issues like leadership, roster management, standards and accountability. We all wish him well.
The Broncos that emerge next year have to be different and they will be as long as we make change and stick together. As for the roster, at first pull your punches but if poor discipline and poor performance continue, then pull the plug. I want to make it clear that fans will continue to support the club as long as they change direction and find that burning desire outside their purse.
We, the supporters, have been massively disappointed with our club in 2020, from the board to the coach, right down to individual players. The supporters are the club and when a fan recently threw his signed jersey onto the floor at the headquarters at Red Hill, it was a sign of our disgust.
The fans tell the club what to do. The club is the car and the supporters put fuel in it. All the revolutions of the world have come from the people telling the government they are unhappy. So too are the supporters of the Broncos. We are not happy and need a change of direction quickly.
All great change in this country begins at the dinner table, so I hope tomorrow while sharing a meal we can vow to demand change and return to a winning culture that will put smiles on our faces each and every week, long after the season has ended.
I still trust, but watch carefully and closely. For those of us over 30 years of age we have known success at the Broncos. What are we now teaching our children, the future supporters of our club.
Raise our glasses to the revolution. Our time will come again. Soon.