The West

Lions go back to future
Chris Phelan, left, Kyal Horsley and George Hampson model the special jumper. Picture: Lincoln Baker/WA News

Subiaco will honour one of the longest-standing commercial partnerships in WA sport with a commemorative jumper based on their 1980s striped design to be used in the clash with Perth at Medibank Stadium tomorrow.

The Lions have been one of the major powers in the WAFL since the turn of the century, but things weren't always so rosy.

Entering the 1984 season, the club had won just one premiership in 60 years.

Circumstances changed dramatically after the club struck a sponsorship arrangement with QBE Insurance, then known as Western Underwriters.

The company put up a $100,000 incentive for the struggling Lions to make the finals that year.

It was big money for a WAFL club during difficult financial times.

Despite winning nine games - an improvement on four victories the previous season - Subiaco finished seventh.

The stakes were raised the following year when the Lions were offered $100,000 to make the finals and $200,000 to claim the flag.

Haydn Bunton guided the team to the 1985 grand final which it lost by five points to East Fremantle, but the ultimate success was still 12 months away.

Subiaco thrashed East Fremantle by 69 points in the 1986 grand final to claim the $200,000.

The Lions repeated the dose with victory over Claremont in 1988 - avenging the defeat to the Tigers the previous year and bringing to an end an unprecedented four successive grand final appearances.

Subiaco led by just four points at half-time in 1988 but blew apart the contest in the second half, kicking 13 goals to three.

The Subiaco-QBE sponsorship deal acted as a launching pad for the Lions and a remarkable era ensued, with the club making 22 finals appearances for six premierships in 29 years. The link will continue until at least 2016 after a new agreement was struck early this year.

"Having secured the new three-year sponsorship, we look forward to continuing our long partnership with QBE and this special jumper and the day is a small way of acknowledging the partnership," Subiaco chief executive Peter Capes said.

"We're proud to be associated with such a high-profile company like QBE Insurance and I can see our partnership lasting long into the future.

"Together we're focused on building a successful club that serves the community's needs."

Despite being widely tipped to struggle this season under second-year coach Jarrad Schofield, Subiaco are poised to reach the finals and are in the running to earn a double chance by finishing in the top two.

The Lions are in good form, having won four of their past five matches, and could have won all five if not for inaccuracy in front of goal against East Fremantle in round 13.

In their final six games, the Lions meet just two other finals contenders, East Perth (round 19) and East Fremantle (round 23).

·ABC TV has dropped out of the race to broadcast the WAFL in 2015, yesterday advising the WA Football Commission it wouldn't stand in the way of a commercial deal.

… we look forward to continuing our long partnership with QBE …" *Peter Capes *

The West Australian

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