A look back at 2016

2016 brought with it plenty of ups and downs for Brisbane Roar with some dramatic late winners in big games, coupled with some big defeats. There was also yet more off field drama. As 2016 winds down, lets look back on the year as a whole. You can also read our recap of 2015 here.

A-League
2016 for the A-League side began with a home game against Perth Glory on January second, with a 2-1 win over Perth sending Brisbane back to the top of the table. That game however would be the final game that Jamie Maclaren would play for a month, with the inform striker joining the Olyroos Rio 2016 qualification campaign and Brisbane’s results suffered as a result.

In three games without Maclaren’s services, Brisbane picked up just one point out of nine, scored just the one goal and suffered a 4-0 thumping away to Melbourne Victory. Upon Maclaren’s return, Brisbane picked up a 3-1 win away to Sydney to round out January.

January however is also a busy time off the park with the mid-season transfer window in affect and Brisbane made a couple of significant moves in this time. Youngster Joe Caletti was brought in as one for the future, while a former prodigy return to Brisbane with Tommy Oar signing a 2.5 year deal. A number of the clubs off-contract stars also had their futures secured around this time, as the likes of Jamie Young, Daniel Bowles, Brandon Borrello and Jack Hingert recommitting for future seasons.

February began with a comprehensive home win against Central Coast Mariners, however two poor performances on the road against Perth (6-3) and Adelaide (3-0), in addition to a draw at home to Newcastle left Brisbane sitting slightly off the top of the table.

March saw three massive home games against Western Sydney, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, all of which brought about dramatic scenes. Two late goals against the Wanderers from Maclaren and Dimitri Petratos were follow by a 5-0 revenge win over the Victory and a late Henrique winner against Sydney FC, all of which put Brisbane right back into Premiership contention.

The final month of the regular season saw Brisbane looking forward to the final two rounds of the season with their destiny in their own hands, and the capitalised on that with a 2-1 come from behind win over Newcastle Jets.

Results elsewhere around the league dictated that if Brisbane defeated Melbourne Victory away from home in round 27, Brisbane would pick up their third Premiers Plate at the home of the outgoing Premiers. Ultimately however it was a case of the one that got away, as Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas denied Brisbane time and again as the game ended scoreless.

That 0-0 draw, coupled with a win for Western Sydney ultimately saw Brisbane end the season in 3rd place and opening the A-League Finals series with a second clash in 6 days against Melbourne.

This time back in Brisbane there were goals, and the defending champions had one hand on a semi-final place after Besart Berisha gave Victory the lead late on, before an immediate equaliser from Matt McKay seemed destined to send the tie into extra time.

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Extra time however was avoided in the most dramatic moment of 2016 as Thomas Broich leaped highest to head home the winner at the near post in the final minute of stoppage time, sending Brisbane into a semi-final clash against Western Sydney.

That semi-final couldn’t have started any better for Brisbane, who led 3-0 after 25 minutes, before a Romeo Castelen hat trick inspired a spectacular comeback. After Jamie Maclaren equalised late on to send the tie into extra time, Dario Vidosic scored what would ultimately prove to be the winner in the first period of extra time, sending the Wanderers to Adelaide for the Grand Final and ending Brisbane’s season.

Following the season, John Aloisi began to reshape his squad, with the likes of Devante Clut, Jean Carlos Solórzano, Shane Stefanutto, Javier Hervas, James Donachie, Jerome Polenz, Steven Lustica and Corona all moving on.

In addition to those mentioned above, long-time fan favourite Henrique also departed the club, after 142 appearances and 39 goals. The naturalised Brazilian, whose Grand Final heroics will live long in the memory, received a warm welcome upon his return to Brisbane earlier this month.

Amongst the new players ahead of the 2016-17 season were Danish midfielder Thomas Kristensen, who arrived as a replacement for Corona, Spanish winger Manuel Arana and former Western Sydney midfielder Jacob Pepper. Youngsters Connor O’Toole, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Kye Rowles, Nicholas D’Agostino and Joey Katebian were also added to the mix.

The biggest off-season acquisition however was former Socceroo Brett Holman, who arrives in Brisbane on a two year deal and is expected to drive the sides style of play this season.

The pre-season began behind closed doors down on the Gold Coast as Brisbane Roar lost 2-1 to Sydney FC, with Thomas Broich scoring the first goal of the long campaign. Further pre-season hit-outs against Western Sydney and Central Coast were arranged, with an extra game against Perth scheduled after the Mariners game was washed out.

In addition to games against rival A-League clubs, two fixtures against BPL and NPL select games were scheduled, with both games more competitive than the respective games in 2015.

The clubs FFA Cup campaign ended at the Round of 32 stage for the second straight season in mid August, as a Dino Djulbic brace gave Perth Glory a 2-0 win at Ballymore. The A-League season began at home in October with another clash against the Victory, and it was late heroics once again as Luke DeVere scored with the last kick of the game to rescue a point.

A 4-0 loss away to Newcastle in round two sparked a 10 game unbeaten run, with wins against Central Coast and Perth rounding out October. November began with a home game against Melbourne City, whose high priced attack was shut out by the Roar in a 1-0 win making it 3 straight, however four straight draws saw Brisbane drop behind the pace of league leading Sydney FC.

The playing surface has been a big topic in December, and while it wasn’t a factor in the 4-0 win over Adelaide, it most certainly was in the clubs last home game of 2016 against Western Sydney. In Brisbane’s final game of 2016 the Roar lost 2-0 away form home against Sydney FC, which saw them slide 12 points behind the Sky Blues, ending the calendar year in 3rd place but well and truly in contention for the silverware this season.

W-League
2016 for the W-League squad began in Adelaide with a 3-1 victory over the Lady Reds which saw Brisbane all but secure a return to the finals. That finals spot however would only be secured on the final weekend of the competition as a 0-0 draw away to Newcastle saw Brisbane finish the regular season in 4th place and set up a Semi-Final clash against the unbeaten premiers Melbourne City.

That semi-final was an instant classic as Haley Kopmeyer and the Brisbane backline denied the highly favoured City attackers for 120 minutes as the game went all the way to penalties. Brisbane left-back Angela Beard was the unlucky player to miss in the shootout as City went on to secure a home Grand Final.

For Brisbane, despite the disappointment of going out on penalties, a return to the finals made the season a relative success and hinted at a return to glory in future seasons.

The long W-League off-season this year was punctuated by the Matildas campaign at the Rio 2016 Olympics, with Katrina Gorry,Clare Polkinghorne, Tameka Butt and new signing Mackenzie Arnold representing the nation. A quarter-final loss to hosts Brazil –once again on penalties- was perhaps disappointing but understandable.

Ahead of the new W-League season there were a host of changes to the squad, starting with the coaching role where Mel Andreatta stepped in to replace the outgoing Belinda Wilson who departed the role after four seasons. The playing roster was also refreshed with Mackenzie Arnold, Maddy Evans and Nina Frausing-Pedersen coming in to strengthen the squad, with the likes of Haley Kopmeyer, Ruth Blackburn and Gabe Marzano moving on.

On the eve of the season however there were dramas off field with the playing group asked to sign new contracts at a reduced rate, an issued which seemingly stemmed from the clubs previous management team and was quickly resolved.

On the park the season started in front of a stand alone W-League regular season record crowd of 3,105 people at Spencer Park as Brisbane defeated Sydney FC 2-1. Just two wins from the following seven games sees Brisbane end 2016 in 5th place, two points out of the finals with four regular season games remaining.

Young Roar

2016 for the Young Roar began with the team halfway through their NYL campaign and in position to make an assault on the Conference A title, before a 1-0 loss at home to Perth Glory which ultimately saw Brisbane finish the season in second place despite strong wins over both Melbourne sides to round out the season.

After a short break the 2016 NPL Queensland campaign got underway with a Brisbane derby at Perry Park as Jesse Daley’s strike earned Brisbane a point against the Strikers in what was a fiery encounter.

For the Young Roar however it’s about more than just results as the players strive to impress and force their way into the A-League squad, and a number of players pressed their claims for a spot with Nicholas D’Agostino headlining the group with 10 goals in 11 games.

Others such as midfielders Nicholas Panetta, Nathan Konstandopoulos and Jesse Daley, wingers Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad, and defender Cameron Crestani all putting in strong performances over the year.

Arguably the biggest highlight of the season came in round 15 as Aaron Reardon’ sensational overhead goal gave Brisbane three points against Olympic FC. If you missed it, or would like to relive the strike, here’s the link.

Brisbane ended the season in 9th place on 25 points, with seven wins from 22 games, with Nicholas D’Agostino winning the Young Player of the Year award.

Following the conclusion of the NPL Queensland there were a number of changes with James Robinson coming in to replace the outgoing Josh McCloughan, who departed late in the season. In terms of players, Western Pride duo Joseph Duckworth and Hayden McHenery, joined the set-up, while the likes of Jesse Daley and Jaiden Walker moved on.

Then began the 2016-17 National Youth League where Brisbane fought back from 3 goals down at half-time to salvage a point in the opening game, before wins against Adelaide and Perth set a top two clash with Melbourne City. At the first time of asking Brisbane were 2-0 up approaching half-time before the weather intervened, with the resulting replay won comprehensively by the away side.

That result sees Brisbane end 2016 in 2nd on the table, one point behind City and with all to play for early in the new season.

Off-Field
While there’s been plenty of on field news over 2016, there’s also been no shortage of off-field news with plenty of ups and downs over the last 12 months.

Starting with a positive development and back in March there was an announcement which was long overdue of a new training and administration facility to be built in the City of Logan. Updates on the progress have been limited although it’s believed that preliminary work has began with the aim of having the facility operational by the start of pre-season in 2017.

From there however the off-field news went south with David Pourre announcing his departure from the Managing Directors role in the weeks following the end of the season. An advisory board consisting of Pourre, former MP Robert Cavalucci and former W-League midfielder Alicia Ferguson forming the board, a board which was ultimately shut down by Daniel Cobb.

The end of May is when things really kicked off when the FFA once again issued an ultimatum to the Bakrie Group -3rd in 12 months- over their long term intentions of the Roar. After a request for extra time to prepare a response was asked for –and granted- the Indonesian owners were able to stave off an intervention from the FFA with the promise of an investment of capital and a replacement for Pourre to be appointed.

That appointment arrived barely 24 hours later as Daniel Cobb arrived as the clubs new Managing Director, followed by the shock news that Cobb would be leading a consortium which would ultimately purchase the licence from the beleaguered owners.

Cobb however was a somewhat controversial appointment after his chequered history in the game was exposed in the days following the appointment and his tenure would only add to that.

Over the coming two and a half months, Cobb had a falling out with the clubs Football Department, oversaw multiple off-field issues and was regularly out of reach for staff on the ground.

Cobb’s contentious and tumultuous tenure ultimately came to an end in August after the players’ payments were once again late, with Cobb and the owners having disagreements over who was responsible for this latest drama. On his way out of the door, Cobb made one final offer for the clubs licence which was ultimately rejected.

Looking briefly to 2017 however and Brisbane may not have seen the back of Cobb with the clubs former MD claiming in December that he was part of a bid to purchase the licence. Cobb however has his own legal dramas to deal with however, with an appearance in the Adelaide magistrates court over charges relating to his business interests.

After Cobb’s departure, Mark Kingsman became the clubs third Managing Director of 2016, with a quick resolution to negations over the use of Ballymore as a training base for 2016-17 amongst his early priorities. Following Kingsman’ appointment, things off field have seen a return of the stability seen under Pourre, with hopes high that 2017 will see the clubs off-field stability remain in tact.

2016 brought with it no silverware for Brisbane Roar there were plenty of fantastic moments, most memorably the Thomas Broich injury time winner in the finals.  As we move on to 2017, there’s plenty to look forward to with Brisbane still alive in all three competitions currently underway, in addition to which there’s the FFA Cup coming up in July, the NPL gets underway in March and offcourse the AFC Champions League which for Brisbane begins with a qualifier at home in late January.

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