Lions better than Cats: Matthews
Lions triple premiership winning coach Leigh Matthews says "I would have backed our team" to beat the Geelong side which also won three flags.PT0M0S 620 349
Michael Voss didn't flinch when AFL legend Leigh Matthews said the club he guided to three straight premierships almost a decade ago might never win another title.
The Lions' coach knew exactly what his former mentor meant after being asked how long he thought it might be before Brisbane win another flag following their 2001-02-03 threepeat.
"Maybe never," said Matthews, back in the 'Gabba Lions den on Thursday to help promote the club's 10th anniversary celebrations next March.
Lions stars Michael Voss and Justin Leppitsch celebrate with the 2002 premiership cup. Photo: Getty Images
Matthews quickly clarified his response, saying there was never any certainty with premierships.
And he should know.
Voted the best player of the 20th century, he won three premierships as a player and four as a coach with two different clubs.
"You often have a premiership era and the longest premiership era in my time was the Hawthorn decade (five premierships and runners-up three times).
"From 1982 to 1991, they could have won the premiership in any one of those 10 years.
"The five or six years this club (Brisbane) had their premiership window, they got to four grand finals and won three in a row. Not even the Hawthorn team of that era could win three in a row."
While not one for comparing eras, Matthews said given the Lions achieved their hat-trick in the early 2000s and Geelong (2007-09-11) were soon after, he would back his team against the Cats.
"To get to the final day and win it three times in a row ... whatever you think of this now, you'll think more of it in the decades to come because history says it just doesn't happen."
Voss, who has the task of taking his developing group to the next level in 2013, understood what Matthews was saying.
He recalled after Brisbane's historic first premiership win over Essendon in 2001 teammates rushing off to do a victory lap of the MCG.
"I remember going over to the players and telling them 'don't run - walk. We may never be here again'," said Voss.
"History says we were and you cherish every one of those and you never take it for granted which I think is what Leigh was saying."
Voss said it wasn't until Geelong's recent domination, winning three flags in five years, that he was fully able to appreciate just how special the group coached by Matthews was.
"To survive back-to-back as we did in 2001-02 and then get another one on top of that ... the cream would have absolutely been four," he said.
"As a coach, I rarely reflect back on it but, to be honest, the only time I did was when I looked at Geelong and thought 'how do you beat these blokes'.
"Then you think .... hang on - that was us.
"That was the only time I've sat back and thought 'geez, we must have been alright'."