Coburg Football Club

The Coburg Football Club, nicknamed The Lions, is an Australian rules football club based in Coburg, a northern suburb of Melbourne, and currently playing in the Victorian Football League. It is based at Coburg City Oval which has been renamed to Piranha Park, due to naming rights. Coburg has historically been a proud club and has won 6 VFA/VFL premierships with the most recent premiership in 1989. The club spent time aligned as a reserve side for the Richmond Football Club from 2001, but as of 2014 has become a stand-alone club in the Victorian Football League.

Coburg Football Club
Full nameCoburg Football Club
Nickname(s)The Lions (1891–2000, 2014–present)
The Tigers (2001–2013)
Club details
Colours     Navy and      Red
CompetitionVictorian Football League
PresidentKevin Breen
CoachAndrew Sturgess
Captain(s)Peter McEvoy & Ryan Exon
Premierships6 (1926, 1927, 1928, 1979, 1988, 1989)
Ground(s)Piranha Park (capacity: 15,000)
Other information


Early history

After competing in junior competitions, Coburg was always keen to be promoted up the ranks. They joined the Melbourne District Association and were premiers in 1913, 1914 and again in 1920 (premiers and champions), their strength helped them get promoted to the Victorian Football League seconds from 1921 until 1924, Coburg was admitted as a senior club in the Victorian Football Association in 1925[1] – as a response to Footscray, North Melbourne and Hawthorn joining the VFL [2]

Coburg was immediately successful in the VFA, playing finals in its first season and winning three consecutive premierships from 1926 until 1928; however, these were the club's last top-division premiership for more than fifty years. Coburg was runners-up to the Northcote Football Club in three successive seasons from 1932 to 1934, and was also runners-up in 1941. The club was dominant in the junior/seconds competition from its inception in 1928 up to World War II, winning nine seconds premierships in thirteen seasons, including four in a row from 1937 until 1940.[3]

Coburg has the second highest number of reported players in a VFA match, which occurred in the 1933 Grand final against Northcote Football Club.

The Lions gained prolific goal kickers Lance Collins and Bob Pratt during the 1930s and 1940s. Collins, in his first full season in 1936 (he was injured in 1935 and played one game), kicked 16, 12, 11 and 10 goals in separate games to kick 116 goals for the season; in 98 games for Coburg Football Club (VFA) his tally was 432 goals. Bob Pratt, who crossed from the VFL without a clearance early in the throw-pass era, kicked 183 goals in the 1941 VFA season for Coburg, which was then the highest number of goals kicked in a VFA season until Ron Todd of Williamstown (VFA) beat that record and kicked 188 goals in 1945. Pratt and Collins together hold the record for the most goals by two players in a season: they kicked a total of 256 goals in 1941. Pratt kicked 22 goals in a match against Sandringham Football Club: a club record.

1965-1970 Years of financial struggle

The club's existence was threatened in 1965, when the City of Coburg leased Coburg Oval to the VFL's North Melbourne Football Club, leaving the club without a home ground.[4] After going into debt attempting to fight the council's move,[5] the club came to an arrangement to merge with North Melbourne,[6] and fourteen committeemen left the club and moved to North Melbourne as part of the merge; but, dissenting committeemen and life members opposed to the merger formed a rival committee, and with the support of the VFA executive, were able to continue operating Coburg as a stand-alone club in 1965,[7] playing games in Port Melbourne. The club's future was still in doubt until it could find a new permanent home ground; but North Melbourne's move to Coburg Oval, which was intended to be long-term, ended up lasting only one season, allowing Coburg to return to Coburg Oval and continue operating there from 1966 onwards.

The only J.J. Liston trophy winner for Coburg was Jim Sullivan in 1967. Prior to 1943 the Best and Fairest Award in the VFA was the 'Recorder Cup'. Coburg VFA winners were Peter Reville (ex-South Melbourne VFL) who was the equal winner in 1936 and E. "Snowy" Martin in 1927.

Jim Sullivan was credited by club statistics to have amassed 54 kicks in a match in 1969, which is the second highest recorded in senior football competition and the highest in the VFA competition.

1978-1990 Premierships and revival

After many years in the doldrums, the club enjoyed somewhat of a rebirth in the late 1970s, with a continued period of success until the 1990. During that time, the club won three flags (1979, 1988 and 1989), finished runner-up another two times (1980 and 1986) and won four minor premierships (1980, 1986, 1988 and 1989). Even so, the club's off-field position was not secure during this time, and the club was at risk of folding in 1982-83.[8] VFA legend Phil Cleary was a member of all these games, as either a player or a coach.

1990-1998 Lean years

After the success of the 1970s and 80s, the 1990s proved to be lean years for Coburg.

After the departure of club legend Phil Cleary as coach in 1992, the club hired the services of Alex Jeaseaulenko, who coached the club to a winless season in 1993.

Coburg would subsequently go onto finish last in both the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

1999-2000 Coburg-Fitzroy Lions

For the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Coburg entered into a partnership with the Fitzroy Football Club.

Fitzroy, which had played in the VFA between 1884 and 1896, then in the VFL/AFL from 1897 until 1996, no longer operated a football team following the creation of the Brisbane Lions in late 1996, but it still had an administrative presence. Under what was effectively a sponsorship arrangement, Coburg became known as the Coburg-Fitzroy Lions, taking its new name at the beginning of August 1999. The club retained navy blue and red as its main colours, but adopted Fitzroy's red, royal blue and gold colours as an alternative strip

Despite large crowds of both Lions fans attending the home games, financial problems and AFL pressure, meant that Coburg were forced to align with an AFL reserves side, and the partnership with Fitzroy was severed at the end of the 2000 season.

2001-2013 Richmond Alignment

From 2001 until 2013, Coburg had an alignment in place with the AFL's Richmond Football Club, which saw Richmond's players eligible to play senior football for Coburg when not selected in the AFL. During this time, the club changed its nickname from the Lions to the Tigers, and its best performance during that time was during 2007, when the seniors finished as runners-up and the reserves side won the premiership.

2014-2017 Return of the Lions & the Peter German era

The affiliation ended after the 2013 season;[9] Coburg returned to operations as a stand-alone senior club in the VFL from 2014, and returned to the nickname 'Lions'. The club appointed former North Melbourne player and former Western Bulldogs assistant coach Peter German from 2014 until 2017.[10]

German's first year at the helm, despite only notching up five wins, was seen as a success after most experts had tipped the Lions to finish with no wins in either competition. Further success was shown with Adam Saad, Ozgur Uysal & Lech Featherstone all named in the 2014 VFL Team of the Year. Saad would win the Best & Fairest in a tie with Daniel Venditti, & would eventually be taken at Pick #25 in that years Rookie Draft by the Gold Coast Suns.

After an outstanding off season recruiting campaign prior to 2015, headlined by the signing of former top five draft pick Cale Morton, much improvement was expected and finals was touted as a real possibility. However sitting 3-9 with six games remaining, a massive upset over reigning Premiers Footscray saw its season spark back into life. It was followed by wins over fellow stand alones Port Melbourne & Frankston, & a big win over the old aligned side in Richmond at Punt Road. All of a sudden the Lions were in finals contention, however needed to dislodge Casey who were in 8th position. Despite a three-goal lead at half time, the Lions would lose by 17 points, ending their season. It would also turn out to be the last game for Captain and club legend Nick Carnell, in game 168.

More success was followed- key defender & Team of the Year Member Michael Hartley would go on to be drafted by Essendon with pick 68 in that years draft. The Development League side would reach the Preliminary Final after achieving 2 wins in 2014.

Further improvement was expected in 2016, despite losing club stalwarts Carnell, Hartley, Ben Clifton & Daniel Venditti. But all this was compensated with the recruitment of ex St. Kilda Forward Ahmed Saad whom would end up winning the Frosty Miller Medal with 49 goals for the season. After plenty of off season hype and excitement building, Coburg would lose five of its first six games by under 2 goals- which ultimately cost them a finals berth. Winning six games for the season, individual success was topped off with the drafting of Luke Ryan to Fremantle & Robbie Fox to the Sydney Swans.

Season 2017 would turn out to be the Peter German's last, announcing his resignation with 4 rounds left. The Lions would beat North Ballarat Football Club in its last home game of the season for its second win of the season, avoiding the wooden spoon.

2018-2019 Leigh Adams era

Season 2018 would bring in further changes, with ex-North Melbourne player Leigh Adams signed on as German's replacement.

Despite coming last (only notching one win against Frankston, and a controversial draw against Sandringham), the club's off-field situation improved. The local and state government pledged money to develop and improve the facilities at Pirahna Park over the 2020 season, giving the club much needed stability.

After a big pre-season drive, membership rose dramatically. Peaking at 250 members in the 2017 season, Coburg finished the 2018 season with 700 members, a club record at the time and a huge achievement for the stand-alone club.

Membership continued to rise at the start of 2019 as the club embarked on their 'Target 1000' membership campaign, designed to get 1000 members signed up for the 2019 VFL season.

As of March 2019, the club had amassed over 870 members, passing their previous highest membership record.

On 28 March 2019 the club announced that it had reached its goal of 1,000 members.

On the field, the club was highly competitive and dodged the wooden spoon with two wins. With three rounds remaining, Leigh Adams announced his resignation after two years at the helm [11].

2020- Andrew Sturgess era

For the 2020 season, ex-player Andrew Sturgess was announced as the club's new senior coach on an initial 2 year agreement.[12]

Club symbols


  • Coburg: 1891–1999
  • Coburg-Fitzroy: 2000
  • Coburg Tigers: 2001–2013
  • Coburg Lions: 2014 -onward

Previous logos

Coburg competed as the Lions from 1925 until 2001. The logo was presented in a shield format and was used until the Richmond alignment in 2001.
Under its alignment with Richmond, the club changed its logo and its nickname to the Tigers. The design of the Tiger is based around Richmond's logo, which was identical at the time. The colour scheme was changed to match that of Coburg's so the club could still have some of its identity. This was the logo until the severing of the link in 2013.
The club went back to its roots in 2014, and became the Lions again. The Lion was back on the emblem. However, the scroll remained from the Lions' tenure with the Tigers.

Home ground

Coburg City Oval has the home ground of the Coburg Football Club throughout its history, except in 1965, when it served as the home of the North Melbourne Football Club in the VFL season; during that season, Coburg played its home matches at North Port Oval in Port Melbourne.[13] The ground has a grandstand on the southern end near the goals. Terraces surround the rest of the ground. The capacity of the ground is 15,000, and the highest attendance recorded was 21,695. There are seats for approximately 3,000–5,000 people. From 2011, Coburg City Oval was known as Mantello Holden Oval. In 2014, club General Manager Craig Lees signed a three-year naming rights deal with Piranha Foods , with the ground to be known as Piranha Park until 2016. The Naming Rights deal was extended for another three seasons in September, 2016.


Famous supporters of Coburg include Cleary, former Trades Union boss Dean Mighell, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, musician Vance Joy (who previously played with Coburg from 2007-2009 when they were known as the Tigers), and 3SER stats doyen Anthony Brady.


Coburg is seen as a leader in the football world for its work in the local Moreland community, and The Lions are the only stand alone side in the VFL to make no income from gaming and pokies revenue.

They have close ties with indigenous community through their NAIDOC week game, and also hold the annual Vicky Cleary game, which is a domestic violence awareness raiser dedicated to the late sister of club legend Phil Cleary, who was tragically killed by an ex-partner in 1987.

General Managers

List of General Managers since the breakup of the Coburg-Richmond alignment.

NameYears served
Craig Lees2014-2016
Sebastian Spagnuolo2017-current

Club song

The club song is to the tune of "California Here I Come".

We're the Coburg boys you know
All our coaches tell us so
We'll thrill 'em
We'll kill 'em
Tear them in two
We're triers
We're flyers
We're the boys of Red and Blue
And when we reach that final four
Then we'll kick those goals galore
Then you'll hear those Lions roar
Oh yes Coburg will be there

Current playing list

Coburg Football Club
Senior list Coaching staff
  • 1 Jack Murphy
  • 2 Jesse Corigliano (VC)
  • 3 Jacob Ballard
  • 4 Sam Lowson (DVC)
  • 5 Ryan Exon (C)
  • 6 Harry Nolan
  • 7 Tyson Lever
  • 8 Tom Silvestro
  • 9 Callum Moore
  • 10 Mitch Podhajski (DVC)
  • 11 Luke Bunker (VC)
  • 12 Peter McEvoy (C)
  • 13 Braedyn Gillard
  • 14 Cooper Sharman
  • 15 Lucas Cavallaro
  • 16 Athan Tsialtas
  • 17 Nathan Boucher
  • 18 Dinny Cleary
  • 19 Jhye Baddeley-Kelly
  • 20 Xavier Fry
  • 21 Tye Browning
  • 22 Adam Swierzbiolek
  • 23 Jackson McDonald
  • 24 Will Donaghey
  • 25 Nelson Lane
  • 26 Tyson Old
  • 27 Sam Binion
  • 28 Josh D'Intinosante
  • 29 Mark Baker
  • 30 Floyd Bollinghaus
  • 31 Aaron Clarke
  • 32 Billy Cannolo
  • 33 Ben Reddick
  • 34 Bailey Thompson
  • 35 Liam Whelan
  • 36 Josh Guthrie
  • 37 Hedley Smith
  • 39 Jackson Davies
  • 42 Marcus Lentini
  • 44 Josh Hotchkin
  • 45 Jack Sandric
  • 46 Jake Sutton
  • 47 Ben Overman

Head coach

  • Andrew Sturgess

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)

Updated: 21 July 2019

Club records


VFA/VFL Premierships – 1st Division

  • 6 (1926, 1927, 1928, 1979, 1988, 1989)

VFA Premierships – 2nd Division

  • 2 (1970, 1974)

VFA/VFL Other Division 1 Awards

  • Runners-ups (8): 1932, 1933, 1934, 1941, 1959, 1980, 1986, 2007
  • Minor Premierships (8): 1926, 1927, 1928, 1945, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1989
  • Wooden Spoons (6): 1968, 1973, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2018


Games records

Dave Starbuck holds the club record for games, with 219, played mostly in the 1950s. He is closely followed by cult figure, Vin "The Tank" Taranto, who played during the 1980s and the dark days of the 1990s, when the club was at its lowest and almost folded. Third on the games list, on 205 games, is Cleary.

J.J. Liston Trophy

PlayerYear Won
Ernie Martin1927
Peter Reville1936
Jim Sullivan1967
Gary Sheldon1988
Ezra Poyas2001

Norm Goss Medallists

PlayerYears Won
Tim Rieniets1988, 1989

Fothergill-Round Medallists

PlayerYear Won
Mark Porter1993
Kristian De Pasquale2001
Luke Ryan 2016

A.Todd Medallists

PlayerYear Won
Colin Bamford1940
G. McLay1946
Jim Clapton1951
Alan Salter1952
Rodney Wescombe1979
Alan Eade1981
Kevin Dinale1984
Alan Sutherland1988
Glen Carrick2008

Fred Hill Memorial Medal

PlayerYear Won
Steven Foster2007
Ozgur Uysal 2012

Team of the Century

Back Bob Atkinson Ron Promnitz Trevor Price
Half Back Dave Starbuck Brad Nimmo Tony Tancredi
Centre Alan Mannix Jim Sullivan Gary Sheldon
Half Forward Lance Collins Bill Byron Laurie Birt
Forward Ken Ingram Bob Pratt Brian Allison
Ruck Jim Jenkins Colin Hobbs Clarrie Mears
Interchange Ray Jordon Harry Kerley Mick Erwin
Jack Condon Tim Rieniets Mark Weideman
Emergencies John Harris Jack Rogan Allen Eade
Captain Brad Nimmo
Coach Phil Cleary


  1. "Association Football – Two new clubs". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 16 December 1924. p. 13.
  2. "League Football – Three New Clubs". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 29 January 1925. p. 5.
  3. "Coburg Football Club statistical records". Fox Sports Pulse. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  4. Scot Palmer (12 January 1965). "North gets lease of Coburg Oval". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 40, 38.
  5. Scot Palmer (3 December 1964). "Coburg may join forces with North". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 66.
  6. Scot Palmer (9 December 1964). "Coburg, North merger". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 63–64.
  7. "Coburg to stay in Association". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. 6 February 1965. p. 56.
  8. Amanda Buivids (8 July 1989). "Inner spring gets Brian jumping". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. p. 69.
  9. "Richmond set to walk away from Coburg in 2014". 21 July 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  10. "Coburg Appoint Peter German as Senior Coach". Fox Sports Pulse. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  11. "club-statement-re-leigh-adams". External link in |website= (help)
  12. "coburg-welcome-andrew-sturgess-as-new-senior-coach". External link in |website= (help)
  13. "Coburg has new ground". The Sun News-Pictorial. Melbourne, VIC. 25 March 1965. p. 58.
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