July 25, 2024

Joel Patfull proudly holds a place on the Brisbane Lions’ Honour Board as one of only 10 multiple winners of the prestigious Merrett/Murray Medal. He claimed the club’s top award in both 2012 and 2013, a significant achievement considering his early career setback. Originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2002 from SANFL’s Norwood, Patfull was unceremoniously delisted just two years later without having played a single game.

The turning point came when Patfull’s former club, Port Adelaide, released him following their victory over Brisbane in the 2004 grand final, ending Brisbane’s premiership reign from 2001 to 2003. Now, two decades later, as the Lions prepare to face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, Patfull’s journey serves as a testament to perseverance and vindication for Brisbane.

Born in suburban Payneham, Adelaide, and currently residing in Sydney, Patfull was selected by Port Adelaide with pick #14 in the talent-rich 2002 rookie draft, alongside notable talents like Hawthorn’s Brad Sewell and Collingwood’s Nick Maxwell. Described in the 2003 AFL Guide as a hard-working forward with impressive skills, Patfull showed promise but did not get the opportunity to showcase his abilities at the highest level with Port Adelaide.

Interestingly, Patfull’s Norwood teammate Scott Borlace, also drafted by Port Adelaide in 2003, is now the Lions’ Head of Player Development. Despite their potential and early promise, neither Patfull nor Borlace donned the teal colors extensively in the AFL, underscoring the unpredictable nature of professional football careers.

Patfull quickly found a new home in Brisbane after being drafted by the Lions with pick #56 in the 2005 National Draft. His debut in Round 8 of 2006 against Port Adelaide at Football Park marked the beginning of a resilient and consistent career primarily in defence, during which he played 182 out of a possible 193 games over nine years.

From 2007 to 2011, Patfull consistently ranked in the top 10 of the Lions’ Best and Fairest awards, finishing on top twice: narrowly edging out Daniel Rich by two votes in 2012 and Pearce Hanley by one vote in 2013. In 2014, he placed third behind Tom Rockliff and Dayne Zorko, before unexpectedly moving to GWS in 2015.

Borlace, also a former Australian age cricket representative, faced a similar journey after being delisted by Port Adelaide at the end of 2003. He subsequently found success elsewhere, winning Port’s SANFL Best & Fairest in 2004, earning the Fos Williams Medal as South Australia’s best player against the VFL in 2005, and captaining South Australia in 2006 before injuries forced his retirement in February 2010.

Borlace joined the Lions Academy in 2012 and later served as a development coach under Justin Leppitsch in 2015-16, eventually taking charge of the development program.

Patfull and Borlace are integral figures in the intertwined history between the Lions and Power, dating back to Port Adelaide’s entry into the AFL in 1997, coinciding with the merger that formed the Brisbane Lions.

The Lions hold a 21-2-19 record against the Power from their 42 encounters. They have dominated at the Gabba with a record of 15-2-6, while their record at Adelaide Oval stands at 6-13. Before losing to Port Adelaide in the 2004 grand final, the Lions defeated them in the finals on their way to claiming flags in 2001 and 2002.

Under coach Chris Fagan, Brisbane boasts a 6-4 record against Port Adelaide, winning five out of six games at the Gabba and one out of four at Adelaide Oval.

The Lions have reciprocated the connection with Patfull by acquiring eight out of nine players who have shared stints at both clubs. This list includes Fabian Francis, a former Brisbane Bears player from 1993-94 and stepfather to current Power midfielder Jason Horne-Francis, who was part of Port Adelaide’s inaugural season in 1997. Other notable players who have made the switch include Aaron Shattock (2005), Tom Logan (2006), Scott Harding (2010), Jared Polec (2014), former Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff (2018), Sam Mayes (2020), and Sam Skinner (2022).

The sole player to move in the opposite direction was Adam Heuskes, another product of Norwood. He played 27 games with Sydney from 1994 to 1996 and 37 games with Port Adelaide from 1997 to 1998 before joining Brisbane in Leigh Matthews’ inaugural season in 1999.

Heuskes played all 25 games in 1999, finishing equal fifth in the Best and Fairest awards. He appeared in 12 of the first 13 games in 2000 but missed one due to suspension. After a five-week injury layoff, he featured once in the reserves and then kicked two goals in a 90-point victory over St Kilda at the Gabba in Round 21. Following this match, he unexpectedly failed to attend the recovery session the next day and subsequently retired from interstate, ending his career at 24 after 125 games.

Simon Black and Jonathan Brown lead in games played between the clubs with 22 each, followed by teammates Jason Akermanis (20), Nigel Lappin (19), Michael Voss (18), and Daniel Bradshaw (18), along with Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak (18).

In terms of Brownlow Medal votes in matches between the clubs, Brisbane leads 121-107, with Brown and Luke Power (10) topping the tally, followed by Akermanis (9), Black (8), and Lachie Neale (7).

Boak, potentially playing his last game against Brisbane this week as Port’s former captain and games record-holder, leads the Power’s vote count with eight, ahead of Ollie Wines (7), Robbie Gray (6), Jarrad Schofield (6), and Charlie Dixon (5).

Black, Lappin (4), and Power (3) have recorded the most 30-possession games for Brisbane against Port Adelaide, while Boak leads the overall list with five such games. Neale holds the individual possession record between the clubs with 42 possessions during a Lions victory at the Gabba in 2019.

Brown has unquestionably been the most prolific goal-scorer in the rivalry, scoring seven or more goals on seven occasions, including a seven-goal haul in a significant victory at Football Park in 2006. This achievement ties him with Port’s Jay Schulz, who also kicked seven goals twice against the Lions.

Over the years, ten Brisbane players and one coach have made their debut against Port Adelaide. Brett Voss was the first in the inaugural meeting in 1997, followed by caretaker coach Roger Merrett in 1998, who started his tenure with a draw at the Gabba after the mid-season dismissal of John Northey.

Daniel Merrett and Tom Logan made their debut together in 2005, followed by Joel Patfull in 2006, Daniel Dzufer (one game) in 2007, Tom Cutler and Nick Robertson in 2014, Archie Smith in 2016, James Madden in 2021, and Will Ashcroft in 2023.

Brisbane fans will not be surprised that Harris Andrews will play his 200th AFL game on Saturday, given the rich history of milestones against Port Adelaide. This includes Darryl White’s 250th game, and the 200th games for Brett Voss, Marcus Ashcroft, Chris Scott (in the 2004 grand final), and Charlie Cameron.

Matthew Kennedy, Brad Scott, and Matt Maguire celebrated their 150th games against Port, while Justin Leppitsch, Craig McRae, Jarrod Molloy, Justin Sherman, and Andrew Raines played their 100th games. Cameron, who has a knack for delivering in significant moments in his former “home” city, also falls into this category.

Another notable connection between the clubs is Mark Williams, who was the Bears’ first signing in 1986 and played 66 games for Brisbane from 1987 to 1990. He later coached Port Adelaide for 273 games from 1999 to 2010.

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