Brisbane Strikers commenced their existence in 1994 in Australia’s then premier club competition, the National Soccer League (NSL), and are widely considered to be one of Queensland’s most iconic and successful premier football clubs.
Initially the Brisbane Strikers were owned by the Queensland Soccer Federation, which handed the running of the club to a Trust Management Group composed of Ian Brusasco (a former President of the Queensland Soccer Federation and the Australian Soccer Federation), Dr Clem Jones (former Lord Mayor of Brisbane) and leading football official Frank Speare.
The club operates out of Perry Park on Abbotsford Road in Bowen Hills and also uses Meakin Park in Slacks Creek as a Junior Academy training venue. The club is fortunate to have access to substantial facilities at both locations. Our home base at Perry Park, in close proximity to the Brisbane CBD, offers an excellent main pitch, secondary training grass pitch and synthetic training area all of which are maintained to the highest standard and serviced by six dressing rooms, match quality floodlighting, and underground irrigation. Along with the playing facilities the venue has a licensed clubhouse, undercover grandstand facilities for 1200 spectators (current ground capacity is 4000) and corporate function areas. The facility is an oft-used venue for international teams training, representative, exhibition and finals matches due to the outstanding facilities on site.
In 2008 as part of FFA and Football Queensland’s goal of enhancing career pathways across Queensland and providing a platform between the local and national competitions, the Strikers saw a position in the Queensland State League (QSL) as a natural “fit” with the club’s own player development ethos. An application to join the new State competition was accepted and the club once again put its best foot forward on playing fields from Brisbane to Townsville in the inaugural QSL season.
In 2013 the Strikers were accepted into the National Premier Leagues (NPL), the result of Football Federation Australia’s National Competitions Review which recommended the establishment of a new second-tier competition nationwide. The Strikers were included alongside 11 other clubs who were chosen from a field of over 20 who submitted bids for inclusion in the Queensland division.
Each club that gained a licence in the new competition was to field elite junior teams as well as a senior men’s team. This was a landmark development for the Strikers because it enabled the club to fully embrace the vision of its former Chairman, Dr Jones, who had envisioned the Strikers as a vehicle for equipping the most talented young Queensland footballers to play professional football.
The competition provides a pathway for young players into the Hyundai A-League, Foxtel National Youth League and overseas opportunities. The NPL concept also committed each club to improve the standard of coaching of young footballers across the board, and to identify elite players who are capable of playing at NPL level and beyond. Meakin Park in Logan serves as our training venue for juniors and youth.
The Brisbane Strikers are continuing to deliver on the two primary objectives that have shaped our approach to date – identifying and developing the talents of locally-based footballers with a view to preparing them for the elite levels of the game, while playing in the highest standard of competition available to the club.
Our approach to development and the implementation of this vision has seen a long list of former players make the advance to professional football, including Frank Farina, Clint Bolton, Jon McKain, Kasey Wehrman, Chay Hews, Shane Smeltz, Shane Steffanuto, Matt Mackay, Jade North, Josh Rose, Brad MacDonald, Matt Smith, Seb Usai, Michael Zullo and Adam Sarota. Currently several players are in professional academy programs as the first steps to that opportunity.
NATIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE (1993-2004)
Initially the Brisbane Strikers were owned by the Queensland Soccer Federation (QSF), which handed the running of the club to a Trust Management Group composed of Ian Brusasco (a former President of the QSF and the Australian Soccer Federation), Clem Jones (former Lord Mayor of Brisbane) and leading football official Frank Speare.
Coached by Bruce Stowell for three seasons, the Strikers finished fourth in 1995/96 to qualify for their first NSL finals appearance, in which they lost a semi-final playoff over two legs to Sydney United.
In the 1996/97 season, the Strikers were led by player-coach Frank Farina and finished second on the NSL ladder to Sydney United before going on to beat United in their semi-final to set up a home grand final – against the same team.
At a time when football was struggling for mainstream acceptance and credibility in Australia, NSL Grand Finals– the pinnacle of club football in Australia – generally drew crowds between 12,000 and 25,000. But the 1997 Grand Final, played at Lang Park in Brisbane, drew a capacity 40,446 spectators to watch the Strikers beat Sydney United 2–0 with goals by Farina and Rod Brown.
This was a watershed moment for football in Australia, but the Strikers struggled the next season, finishing 12th. A significant event in the history of the club occurred in 1998 when the QSF divested itself of its ownership, which passed to the Strikers Football Club Pty Ltd.
Scarcely three years after the club had played its part in Australian club football’s proudest moment, it was dealt a savage blow when Soccer Australia, as part of a restructuring of the national competition, refused the Strikers’ application for a place in the NSL, citing financial concerns. This left the national league without a representative from the country’s third most populous state. Politicians, supporters and the general public waged a campaign to have the club reinstated to the national league. This eventually convinced Soccer Australia to reverse its decision and grant the Strikers Football Club Pty Ltd a licence for the 2000/2001 season.
Back on the field, under coach John Kosmina, the Strikers finished fourth and qualified for the NSL finals. Eventual premiers South Melbourne FC prevailed over the Strikers in their two-legged semi-final.
The next season saw the Strikers struggle again and led to the club parting ways with Kosmina. Despite a host of coaches showing interest in the vacancy, including some from overseas, the Strikers took the step of appointing 28-year-old club captain Stuart McLaren as head coach, assisted by Luciano Trani. Together, the two assembled a squad of unsung players from the local leagues and turning them into a team that took the club back to the 2003/04 NSL finals only to lose a memorable semi-final play-off to Adelaide United.
That season was the last for the NSL. A strong reform movement within the game in Australia had seen a new Soccer Australia Board appointed (which would change its name to Football Federation Australia) under the Chairmanship of Frank Lowy and the new governing body set about creating a new national competition called the A-League.
BRISBANE PREMIER LEAGUE (2005-2007)
Following the demise of the NSL competition, the club was determined to find an outlet to continue their philosophy of developing the talents of Queensland footballers, and fielded a team in the Brisbane Premier League. Coached by Bobby Hamilton, the team qualified for the finals play-off in its first season (2005) before falling to Palm Beach in a semi-final.
However, in 2006 the Brisbane Strikers carried all before them, winning the BPL championship, the Grand Final and the Premier Cup.
Another coaching change saw Craig Collins take on the player-coach role in 2007. It was an "almost" season for the Brisbane Strikers, which saw them finish runners-up in the championship to Rochedale Rovers, before losing a titanic struggle in the Grand Final to the same team by the scoreline of 5–4.
QUEENSLAND STATE LEAGUE (2008-2012)
With the Queensland State League due to commence in 2008 as part of Football Federation Australia and Football Queensland’s goal of enhancing career pathways across Queensland and providing a platform between the local and national competitions, the Strikers saw a position in the QSL as a natural "fit" with the club’s own player development ethos. Its application to join the new state competition was accepted and the club, once again under the coaching of Stuart McLaren, put its best foot forward on playing fields from Brisbane to Townsville in the inaugural QSL season. The Strikers finished second behind Sunshine Coast F.C. on the league table before hosting the Grand Final at Perry Park and losing to the same team.
The following (2009) season, McLaren and his squad clinched the QSL championship in the penultimate round of the competition after a tense season-long battle with Olympic FC. In doing so, the Brisbane Strikers became one of the very few football clubs in Australia to have won trophies at local, state and national levels. However, the Strikers lost in a Grand Final once again, going down 1–4 in a boilover result to Redlands United FC, who had finished the season in fourth position on the QSL ladder.
The 2010 and 2011 campaigns took on a familiar path. With David Large taking on the coaching role from the departing McLaren, the club finished both seasons in second position on the league table before going on to host the Grand Finals and losing each one by an identical scoreline, 1–0 to Sunshine Coast FC.
The 2012 QSL proved to be a successful season for the club. The Strikers claimed their second QSL championship in five years in emphatic fashion, finishing eight points above second place Far North Queensland Bulls FC. Howevert The Strikers were eliminated in a home semi-final 2–0 to Whitsunday Miners FC.
NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUES QUEENSLAND (2013–PRESENT)
Since 2013 the Strikers have competed in the National Premier Leagues Queensland, run by Football Queensland, the top tier state-level football (soccer) competition in Queensland, replacing the Queensland State League. The conference is a sub division of the National Premier Leagues. The league consists of teams across Queensland.
In seasons 2013 and 2014 the Strikers finished fourth in the league before being eliminated in the semi-finals by league winners and eventual Grand Final champions in Olympic FC and Palm Beach Sharks respectively.
Season 2015 saw a new coach take the helm in Kevin Aherne-Evans and while enjoying a relatively successful campaign it was to prove a frustrating year for the club. With the Strikers equal top of the league but second on goal difference their final game of the season was abandoned due to wet weather and with the governing body, Football Queensland, choosing not to reschedule the match and deem it a goalless draw they were forced to settle for the runners-up position. The disappointment from the last game controversy was further heightened when the Strikers qualified for the Grand Final, only to lose to their league rivals Moreton Bay United.
The Strikers proved a dominant force in season 2016, finally clinching the club's first National Premier Leagues Queensland league title under the coaching of Kevin Aherne-Evans but lost their semi final against Redlands to miss the opportunity to win the coveted double.
In 2017 Sean Lane took over the coaching duties from the departing Aherne-Evans. The Strikers became the first side to win consecutive league titles in the National Premier Leagues Queensland era after a gripping battle with Postseason football however continued to be a thorn in the Strikers' side with the team losing their semi-final against Moreton Bay.
Kevin A’Herne-Evans’ and Sean Lane’s squads secured the first back-to-back premierships in NPL Queensland history, adding more lustre to a truly unique trophy cabinet at Perry Park, where silverware and memorabilia from the National Soccer League, the Brisbane Premier League and the Queensland State League are already on display.
In 2018, the club missed the semi finals for the first time in an unbroken run of 14 years of finals football that stretched back to the last year of the NSL in 2004, finishing fifth in the competition.
A similar fifth placing in 2019 saw the club once again miss out of finals but was partly compensated by an historic winning run to the FFA Cup Semi Finals.
NPL FINALS SERIES
As league winners in 2016 and 2017 the Strikers also qualified for the Australia-wide National Premier Leagues finals series which sees the winner from each state federation compete in a knockout cup competition to be crowned national champions.
After losing at the semi-final stage to eventual champions Sydney United 58 in 2016, the Strikers became the first Queensland side to make the Grand Final in 2017 where they hosted National Premier Leagues Victoria side Heidelberg United. The Strikers lost that match 2-0 in front of 1105 fans at Perry Park.
Qualifying through the Brisbane zone for the national Round of 32 in 2014 the Strikers featured in a piece of Australian football history when its tie against Newcastle based club Broadmeadow Magic became the first live televised game of the new Cup competition. The Strikers won the game 2–1 but were eliminated in the Round of 16 after a 1–0 away loss to Adelaide City FC.
Once again the Strikers made it to the national stage of the FFA Cup in 2015 when the qualified for the Round of 32 from the Brisbane zone. However they suffered a heartbreaking 4–3 extra time defeat to Hume City FC.
The 2016 FFA Cup saw Brisbane Strikers qualify for the third successive time, this time drawing Darwin side Shamrock Rovers/Darwin FC in the Round of 32. On 27 July 2016, the Strikers ran out 6–0 winners over Rovers Darwin in front of 1358 people at Darwin Football Stadium. In the Round of 16, the Strikers drew A-League side Melbourne City FC. In front of 3571 people at a rain-soaked Perry Park, the Strikers' biggest crowd since their exit from the NSL, two Bruno Fornaroli penalties saw the A-League side progress, despite the Strikers taking the lead through Greig Henslee. The match also marked Tim Cahill's first game since arriving back in Australia, joining Melbourne City.
The Strikers next qualified for the Round of 32 in the 2019 FFA Cup, where they met Wellington Phoenix at Perry Park on 7 August. In front of 1612 fans, the Strikers went 2–0 ahead through goals to Hiroki Omori and Andy Pengelly, before Wellington scored twice to equalise. The Strikers held on in extra time, thanks largely to goalkeeper Bon Scott, who saved an extra time penalty. Scott continued his heroics in the penalty shoot-out, which the Strikers won 4–3.
The Strikers qualified for the quarter finals for the very first time on 29 August 2019, when they defeated Manly United 1–0 in front of 1240 spectators at Perry Park and drawing Moreland Zebras in the next round.
The Strikers defeated the Zebras 3-2 in front of 1915 spectators at Perry Park on 18 September 2019, to become the first Queensland side to qualify for the FFA Cup semi-finals, setting up a match with Melbourne City. They lost that match at Perry Park 1-5 in front of a post-NSL club record crowd of 3706.