Michael Voss leaving the Lions. Would he go back? Photo: Getty Images
It's a strange business, the AFL. James Hird is given everything at Essendon, mucks up big time, is then called heroic by some misguided fools and is rewarded with a two-year contract extension.
Michael Voss, on the other hand, coached at a club that provided him with limited resources, he gets the best out of what he has to work with and his reward is to be unceremoniously told he is out of a job.
There's no review, no discussion, no warning. The Brisbane board didn't have the grace to hold their inept decision for three weeks to allow the club legend to coach out the season.
Why? Because chairman Angus Johnson had some stupid belief that by showing Paul Roos they were serious about getting a new coach, by dismissing the current one, they would convince him to jump on board.
By operating as they did, the only thing it convinced Roos to do was to make sure he would not be part of such an amateurish outfit.
I would like to know what Johnson's expectations were of the Brisbane team going into the 2013 season. Most clubs pay 100 per cent of what they are allowed to pay their players. Brisbane pays 95 per cent. Most clubs have four or five development coaches. Brisbane has two. As far as football department spending goes, Brisbane sits in the bottom quartile. If ever a man coached with a hand tied behind his back, it was Voss.
The Lions also have the third-youngest list in the AFL; only the Suns and Giants are younger. It should be noted that in the second half of the season, the Lions won seven games and lost four. That's better than West Coast, Adelaide, Carlton and Essendon and is equal to Collingwood and Sydney. All of those teams have better lists and better resources.
In a perfect world, Voss should have done a coaching apprenticeship away from Brisbane. He was prepared to do that and had accepted an assistant role with West Coast in 2009. Things changed when Leigh Matthews made up his mind that, after 10 years at the helm, he was ready to walk away from coaching. The Brisbane board begged Voss to take the job on and he did. But he didn't inherit a good team. In Matthews' last four seasons, the team had not made the finals and the losses outweighed the wins. In his first season, Voss coached the team to sixth position. He then thought the inclusion of some older types such as Brendan Fevola, Xavier Clarke and Amon Buchanan would help advance the cause. It didn't. Voss had made a big mistake but he was learning on the job. He took his medicine and realised development of young players was the only way to go.
Over the past two seasons the team has been competitive, winning 10 games in each season. What has pleased supporters has been the strong team spirit and the progress of so many younger players. Leading the way is Pearce Hanley. Third in last year's best and fairest, he should win it this year. Daniel Rich has evolved from an outside receiver to a tough and hard inside midfielder. Jack Redden is just 22 and two games short of 100. He is a quality midfielder whose next step is to add goals to his game. Dayne Zorko has had just two years in the system but in a short time has impressed with his smarts and goalkicking talents. Elliot Yeo, Mitch Golby and Ryan Harwood have all played fewer than 50 games but they make up half of the back line.
Teenager Sam Mayes, in his first season, has been exciting on the wing and injury-prone ruckman Matthew Leuenberger is developing into one of the game's best. Three of the players recruited from outside with Fevola in 2010 are actually becoming good value. Voss has made Andrew Raines one of the game's best stoppers and the patience and encouragement shown to injured pair Brent Staker and Matt Maguire is finally paying off. Half of the team that lost to Geelong by a point last week have played fewer than 50 games. It is very much a work in progress.
The bottom line is, Voss has coached well over the past two seasons and was just finding his feet as a senior coach. Along with the Scott twins, he is the youngest of the senior AFL coaches. Unless there was someone extremely special prepared to coach the Lions, and it appears there is not, Voss should've been given a new two-year deal to build on the solid base he has set up. There's talk now that Neil Craig could be the new coach. If it is true that Brett Burton, former Crow and current fitness coach at Brisbane, is on the sub-committee to appoint a new coach, then spare me.
It was 11 years ago that the Sydney supporters took a stand. They wanted Roos to coach the team when the board had settled on Terry Wallace. The supporters voiced their protest loud, long and strong until the board buckled and took on Roos.
The “power of the people” won the day and Sydney went on to win a premiership. If there's a Lions supporter out there who wants to right a wrong, wants to start a petition to push for the reinstatement of Voss, then let me know.
I would like to be the first to sign it.