Two football players celebrate on the field

Preliminary finals for both Brisbane NRL and AFL home teams sparks fan frenzy

For decades a cross-code war has raged but, as Brisbane prepares to be the epicentre of Australian sport tonight, it’s clear — the city’s football sides have never been more united.

For five hours the sporting spotlight will shine bright over the river city, as the Lions and Broncos both look to book places in their respective AFL and NRL grand finals.

Never before have both teams hosted preliminary finals, in the same year, in Brisbane.

Now there’s the prospect, they’ll both make it to the final weekend of the same season.

The Lions and Broncos are proud to represent Brisbane.(Supplied: Brisbane Lions)

“There’s certainly a buzz and that feel in the air, I guess it’s over to both of our teams now to go out there and do our supporters proud,” Lions veteran Dayne Zorko said.

“I think it’s great that not only us, but the Brisbane Broncos, have had fantastic seasons as well.

“I mean you can certainly feel the vibe around the city, everywhere you walk.”

Two football players celebrate on the field

Adam Reynolds doing Charlie Cameron’s trademark motorbike celebration.(Supplied)

For years, pundits have been trying to drive a wedge between the two codes, arguing which is the dominant force in the sunshine state, but the players argue their rivalry only extends to the golf course.

“Yeah it’s obviously great to mix and match with those fellas (the Lions’ players), they’re professionals in their sport and we’re professionals in ours, obviously there’s a bit of cross-code banter, they like to play a bit of golf, so do we,” Broncos captain Adam Reynolds said.

“It’s great for the city, it’s wonderful, obviously a few of us got out to their last game against Port Adelaide.”

Adam Reynolds and Charlie Cameron embrace in a hug

After winning their game the night before, Broncos players showed up to watch the Lions win against Port Adelaide.(Supplied: Brisbane Lions)

When and where do the Brisbane footy teams play tonight?

More than 80,000 fans will attend the two matches across the city on Saturday night, starting at The Gabba when the Lions host Carlton for the chance to travel to the MCG and win the club’s first AFL premiership since 2003.

That match starts at 5:15pm.

As the Lions continue into the the final quarter of their tussle with Michael Voss’ Blues, across at Lang Park Kevin Walter’s Broncos will be kicking off their match against the Warriors at 7:50pm.

Even the Broncos players admit they’ll be interested in knowing how the AFL clash is unfolding.

The NRL premiership Provan-Summons trophy sits in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night.

The Broncos have not held the Provan-Summons Trophy since winning the premiership in 2006.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

“It’s excellent for the city, to see Brisbane doing really well on the sporting scene. Hopefully we can get updates on the scoreboard here [to see] how things are going,” Reynolds said.

Prop Tom Flegler even suggested putting the AFL match on the television screens in the Broncos change rooms, for players to watch as they’re getting ready for their own game.

The last time the Broncos featured in a decider was 2015, when they went up against the North Queensland Cowboys.

It’s been 17 years since their last NRL premiership.

Kevin Walters stands with fans at a Broncos' training session.

Kevin Walters joins in the fun with fans at Friday’s team training session.(Supplied: Steele Tallon)

‘Super fan’ shuttles between games

Kieran Jones-Jackson is a dedicated fan of both teams and is determined to see as much of the action from both games tonight.

“The plan is to go to the Lions, go there ’til about three-quarter time, going to have to leave and then beat the crowd, get on the bus at the Woolloongabba station, and go to Lang Park, there’s a shuttle bus,” he said.

“I’m a member of both clubs so as soon as they both opened the ticketing websites, I had my code ready, computer ready.

“It’s all set up, put the codes in, got the first available tickets, bang.”

Man holds up Broncos scarf

Kieran Jones-Jackson is a dedicated fan of both teams and says he will be seeing both games tonight.(ABC News: Peter Quattrocelli)

‘Fantastic for the whole city’

The Caxton Hotel is gearing up for their second biggest night of the year, with owner Ross Farquhar believing only State of Origin matches will trump the occasion.

“We’re packed to the brim [with beer barrels ordered] … normally have 100 for an Origin and we won’t be far from that,” Mr Farquhar said.

He said for supporters who weren’t lucky enough to secure one of the 52,500 tickets at Lang Park, a lot of them would come to Caxton Street to watch the game.

Reece Walsh and Charlie Cameron embrace in a hug

Reece Walsh and Charlie Cameron may be separated by codes, but players from both Brisbane teams couldn’t be closer.(Supplied: Brisbane Lions)

“It sort of becomes it’s own event, these big football days, and a lot of people who don’t have tickets just come in the street for the atmosphere pre and post game,” Mr Farquhar said.

“We have a big carpark event and the restaurant is fully booked, so we’ll be ready for a big crowd.

“We’ve had a lot of calls about the Lions, we’re obviously supporters of the Lions too, they’ll be on our big screens up until 15 minutes before the start of the Broncos but there’ll be plenty of TVs with the Lions and Carlton game on.

“Probably only Magic Round will be the only time where [the city] has been so busy, there’s so much sport, all the restaurants are booked out, all the hotels are booked out, it’s fantastic for the whole city.”

Extra flights to cater for demand

Brisbane Airport is expecting a busy preliminary finals weekend, with more than 100 flights arriving from Melbourne between Thursday and Saturday.

Two Brisbane Lions AFL players double high-five in celebration after a goal.

The Brisbane Lions defeated Port Adelaide in early September. Tonight they face Carlton for the chance to travel to the MCG and win the premiership.

“I understand that a couple of the airlines have put on additional flights to cater for that strong demand,” Stephen Beckett from Brisbane Airport said.

Dozens of planes will also be arriving from New Zealand, with all flights almost fully booked.

However, fans travelling across interstate and international borders this week have raised concerns about airlines price gouging customers.

“Look, I understand that airline pricing is complex, it is largely a supply and demand business so as fewer seats are available, they do become more expensive,” Mr Beckett said.

Fans of both the Broncos and Lions appear to be setting their sights on the ultimate glory next week.

Brisbane Airport said there was an increase in flight bookings to Sydney and Melbourne last week – the host cities for the NRL and AFL grand finals.

“There has been a considerable uptick in last minute bookings,” Mr Beckett said.

“We’re expecting Brisbane Bronco fans — both the men’s and women’s teams — and supporters of the Lions, are hedging their bets and booking tickets in advance.”



Author: Russell White