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"Cheers to Heartbreak: Fitzroy Experiences an Emptiness on Tap"

“Cheers to Heartbreak: Fitzroy Experiences an Emptiness on Tap”

5 minutes, 41 seconds Read

Sport AFL

AFL grand final ‘A little devastated’: Kegs run dry and hearts break anew in Fitzroy

By Liam Mannix September 30, 2023 – 6.53pm

The Fitzroy Lions, or what is left of them, is a club of triumph and heartbreak. For many fans in Fitzroy, who had seen the club say goodbye to Melbourne and shift 1400 kilometres north, Saturday’s grand final loss to Collingwood was just the latest way their team found to break their hearts. But all that heartbreak, it gives you perspective.

Heartbreak in Fitzroy

As the final siren sounded in the AFL grand final, the sense of emptiness in Fitzroy was palpable. Fans gathered at the Royal Derby Hotel on Brunswick Street, donning their faded maroon classic Fitzroy Lions jerseys alongside Brisbane fans in their shinier modern counterparts. It was a bittersweet moment, a reminder of the history and the shifting landscape of Australian Rules Football.

“As someone who has supported Fitzroy before the merger, to have the suburb come alive like this is something really special – to feel together once again, whether you’re a Brisbane or a Fitzroy fan,” said Matthew Tribe.

The Royal Derby Hotel itself was a symbol of the shared heritage between the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Lions. The pub was resplendent in maroon, with a huge mural of Brisbane Lions legend Jonathan Brown and Kevin Murray, Fitzroy‘s 1969 Brownlow Medallist, splashed across the walls. The mural, an idea of the pub’s co-owners Kane and Hayley Tancredi, was a tribute to the Lions’ rich history and their connection to the local community.

Emotions ran high at the Royal Derby as fans connected with one another and embraced the highs and lows of the game. The taps of Queensland-brewed Great Northern ran dry by half-time, evidence of the fervor and passion that filled the pub. The crowd roared and screamed, cheering for their favorite players and expressing their frustrations at the opposing team. It was a display of camaraderie and shared experiences, a moment that reminded everyone of the power of sports to bring communities together.

Dealing with Loss

For fans who have followed the Fitzroy Lions since their relocation and eventual merger with the Brisbane Lions in 1996, loss has become a familiar companion. Tony Proudfoot, wearing an old school Fitzroy Lions jersey, has supported the Lions since 1979. He has witnessed the adversity and challenges faced by the club, but he remains dedicated and hopeful.

“Part of me was devastated,” said Proudfoot, reflecting on the 1996 move north. “Part of me wanted to ditch it. But I’ve carried on. And I’m here today.”

Following a team through their ups and downs can prepare one for the inevitable tragedies that come with sports. Proudfoot’s perspective on the grand final loss is a testament to this resilience. Though “a little devastated,” he acknowledges the efforts of both teams and recognizes the closeness of the match. It is this ability to find solace in the process and appreciate the game itself that allows fans to navigate the heartbreak that often accompanies their loyalty.

Editorial: The Power of Sports in Uniting Communities

The grand final loss experienced by Fitzroy and Brisbane Lions fans in Fitzroy serves as a reminder of the power of sports in uniting communities and forging shared identities. Despite the geographical distance between Fitzroy and Brisbane, the connection between the two teams remains strong. This connection goes beyond the wins and losses, extending to a sense of belonging and camaraderie that transcends time and location.

As Australian Rules Football continues to evolve and teams merge, it is important to recognize and honor the history and legacy of each club. The mural at the Royal Derby Hotel serves as a poignant symbol of this shared heritage, showcasing the impact of past champions and the passion of the fans.

In an age where digital distractions and individualism can isolate communities, the power of sports to bring people together should not be underestimated. Whether it is cheering for a local club or supporting a national team, sports have the ability to bridge divides, foster a sense of belonging, and create lasting memories and friendships.

Advice: Finding Perspective in Sports

As fans, it is natural to feel a sense of disappointment and heartbreak when our favorite team falls short of victory. However, it is important to remember that sports are ultimately about more than just the final result. The journey, the camaraderie, and the shared experiences with fellow fans are what make sports truly special.

When your team faces defeat, take the time to appreciate the efforts and achievements of the players. Reflect on the camaraderie and sense of community that sports bring, as it is these connections that endure long after the game is over. Rather than getting caught up in bitterness or dwelling on the loss, focus on the memories and the shared experiences that have brought you closer to your team.

In the case of the Fitzroy and Brisbane Lions fans, their dedication and resilience epitomize the spirit of Australian Rules Football. Regardless of the outcome, their unwavering support for their teams serves as an inspiration to all sports fans, reminding us to find joy in the process and to celebrate the community that sports create.


"Cheers to Heartbreak: Fitzroy Experiences an Emptiness on Tap"
<< photo by Angelina Litvin >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Edwards Jake

G'day, I'm Jake Edwards, the man on the street. I've been crisscrossing this great country, bringing you the human stories that make Australia what it is. From interviews with local legends to the everyday Aussie battlers, I'm here to tell your stories. So let's yarn, Australia

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