HOT SEAT: Melbourne coach Paul Roos during the Round 14 AFL match between the Demons and the West Coast Eagles.
HOT SEAT: Melbourne coach Paul Roos during the Round 14 AFL match between the Demons and the West Coast Eagles. DEAN LEWINS

Lions are still paying for messy break-up

THE Brisbane Lions probably felt like they had been left at the altar – a fairytale romance ended before it had even begun.

They would never admit it, but the Lions seemingly had their future with Paul Roos all mapped out in 2013.

Unhappy with how their relationship with Michael Voss was progressing, they had hastily dumped him – presumably giving him the old “it’s not you, it’s us” routine.

Putting the hard word on Roosy, it did seem a match made in footy heaven.

Roos was, of course, a Lions legend – of the Fitzroy variety – who had actually embraced a move north three decades earlier when the mullet was in full flow.

“I remember at Fitzroy back in ’86 the club president pulled us all together and said, ‘We’re broke, we’ve either got to merge with someone or go to Brisbane,’” he recalled in 2010.

“The player group all voted to go to Brisbane so we could stay together. I wished we’d gone because I reckon we would’ve had a really successful period.”

And even though he was long gone to Sydney by the time Fitzroy had become the Brisbane Lions a decade later, Roosy still considered them his “old club”.

But unfortunately, when the next chance to finally get him to Queensland arose, the stars were unable to be aligned. Roosy was settled back in Melbourne with his family and plumped for the Demons – and the more difficult coaching option.

You’ll recall Brisbane had been just “two points” away from contesting finals in 2013 – it had lost to Geelong by a point to finish on 10 wins, while Carlton had beaten Port by one point to finish on 11 and secure eighth spot.

Melbourne finished second last with just two wins and was still looking a rabble after coach Mark Neeld had been sacked.

Their advances spurned, the Lions instead settled on Justin Leppitsch.

He was a solid choice, but even so, do rebound relationships ever work?

It certainly appears not in this case.

After three years, despite him being a lovely guy and all, it’s just not working. There’s just no spark, and Leppa looks painfully dejected.

The harsh reality is he’s overseen one win this season and is now tracking at a dismal 21.4% strike rate – the worst of any coach with at least 50 games experience in the past 50 years.

His team’s had its injury woes, but there’s been a decided lack of development in the kids – even now, the likes of Lewy Taylor have put contract discussions on hold.

We don’t condone sneaking behind one’s back but you can’t help wonder if the Lions have been making some quiet calls to a certain coach who’s coming to the end of his three-year stint in Melbourne – one that has instilled passion and commitment in players, and hope in supporters.

Of course, Roos could be sought for a new role of senior assistant the Lions are reportedly toying with to act as support for Leppa ... but that might just be a bit too awkward.