Anzac Day clash put Lions’ Andrews on path to AFL

Roger Vaughan |

Brisbane’s Harris Andrews is the first player from the northern club academies to reach 200 games.
Brisbane’s Harris Andrews is the first player from the northern club academies to reach 200 games.

Harris Andrews sat with 93,372 other AFL fans at the 2013 Anzac Day blockbuster and a fire was lit.

The annual Essendon-Collingwood clash, with its pre-game ceremony and heady atmosphere, has an effect on anyone who attends.

In Andrews’ case, it led directly to his playing career.

On Saturday, the Brisbane Lions star will become the first product from the four northern AFL clubs’ academies to reach 200 games. Sydney’s Isaac Heeney is 10 games away from the milestone.

Then a Bombers fan, Andrews wasn’t sure about how seriously he wanted to take his footy when he travelled to the MCG for the 2013 match, which Essendon won.

“If you’d said to me at 16, you’d get to game 200 in the AFL, I probably would have laughed at you,” he said on Tuesday.

“It was probably at that stage (the 2013 Anzac Day game) that I thought if I want to make this happen, I’ve got to do something about it.”

Andrews went from his local club Aspley to the academy the following year and the rest is history.

“I’m very proud, it’s such a great program. I was probably a bit different to a lot of academy guys coming through, I wasn’t there from the age of 12,” he said.

“I jumped in pretty late, when I was 17, and I really flourished.

“As a bit of a footy head, I absolutely chewed that up.”

Harris Andrews.
Harris Andrews during a 2024 Lions training session at the MCG. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

The two-time All-Australian and Lions co-captain is proudest of the transformation at his club, from being a laughing stock to going within a kick of last year’s premiership.

“When I arrived (2015), I was probably in a little bit of a honeymoon phase. I was playing a lot of games early on and we were getting thrashed, week-in-and week-out,” he said.

“To be part of the growth and the change, it’s been awesome … I’m really proud to be a part of.

“As a club, we’ve built up our own personality, built up the respect from the rest of the competition. Probably when I got here, it wasn’t really that great and a lot of clubs didn’t view us the way we’re viewed now.

“That’s also off-field, the way we are viewed in the community up here in Brisbane … the growth of footy has been massive.”

The obvious honour missing from his impressive resume is the premiership.

“Clearly it’s something I want to keep driving and I won’t stop until we do,” he said.

Andrews will reach 200 against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

He “well-and-truly” recalls the previous time they played the Power away – a 54-point belting from them to open last season.

“The way they were able to dominate us in that second half and really get a run on us was a pretty poor way to kick off last year,” Andrews said.

“We’ll do some reflection on that.

“We want to tidy up a few things ourselves, in our own game.

“We were able to kick 120 points against a great defence (against St Kilda last weekend) … but to let in 100 points is something we don’t want to do.”