Time for Brisbane to thrive

Melbourne and Sydney have the glory of derby football at their fingertips, but what about Brisbane?

Melbourne and Sydney have the glory of derby football at their fingertips, but what about Brisbane?

The city that had two bids for clubs to be granted a spot in the inaugural A-League - both of which were claimed to be strong bids by FFA president Frank Lowy - are still stuck with the lone side, albeit the owner of two titles in Brisbane Roar.

While that puts the A-League on par with the other local football codes - the Reds in Super Rugby, the Lions in AFL and the Broncos in NRL - the calls are growing for the world game's tally of teams to be doubled in the Queensland capital.

Football Queensland technical director Gary Phillips certainly thinks another Brisbane franchise is viable, with a flurry of young talent at the beckoned call of the side to whoever can snare an A-League licence.

"Sometime in the future, that might be some way away, although I think it will happen," Phillips said of the potential for a second Brisbane club.

"I particularly believe that there are enough quality (players) being produced within the state to be able to accommodate, from a playing roster point of view. And I'm convinced that the support will be there."

One club that screams A-League potential is the Brisbane Strikers - who already have an Australian championship to their name after their National Soccer League triumph in 1997.

The Strikers - based at the upgraded Perry Park - have been included in the new National Premier League set-up, and Phillips said their facilities and their wide support base put them in the front-runners position to be the second club in Brisbane.

"They're in a unique situation where the first team still plays out at Perry Park, which is one of the original venues of the old National (Soccer) League team.

"They have got upgraded facilities, more an expansion of their clubhouse and their off-field make-up but the field remains, it's still in good playing condition.

"It certainly would need to be upgraded to A-League standard, but it's purpose-built so there's no reason that can't be produced if such a situation arose.

"And the juniors, based on the south side of Brisbane which is a large catchment area... so we've got a support base on both sides of the river, which is a good thing.

"And it's still very well recognised as a brand throughout Queensland because of past history, so they're certainly a club that could be in a position, they're certainly set up well from a professional point of view, one of the first clubs to meet all the criteria for the new National Premier League.

"I think they're one club in a great position."

Strikers veteran Chay Hews, who was a part of that NSL championship 16 years ago, said a Brisbane derby would only invigorate the A-League's fixture list.

"You'd hope so, because it would add an extra awesome game during the season," Hews said, when asked if he felt the fans would support a second Brisbane team.

"You'd have those derby matches you see in Melbourne and this year in Sydney. Those sort of things are fantastic. It adds an extra bite to a couple of games, and is something for the fans."

Hews agreed with Phillips that a second Brisbane team might still be a few years off its A-League berth, but said it's better to be financially safe than sorry - claiming it's best to learn from the failed ventures of Gold Coast United and the North Queensland Fury.

"I think the things that you want from any team coming into the league is that they're financially strong," he said.

"You don't want to see a team come up and then have a Fury or something like that happen again, where a team comes up and they're there for a year or two and they're gone again. That'd be the worst case scenario."

Best case scenario, of course, would be to see the Strikers/Roar derby streamed live around the country, with 50,000 Queenslanders packing out Suncorp Stadium. Will it happen? Time will tell.

Image courtesy Brisbane Strikers