FOR MOST of his childhood Lachie Neale could only watch as Brisbane's trio of Brownlow medallists repeatedly battered his Port Adelaide heroes.
Simon Black, Jason Akermanis and Michael Voss made a habit of beating up on the Power during the Lions' triple premiership era.
Black and Voss celebrate a win in 2002. Picture: AFL Photos
Now a Lions midfield star in his own right, Neale's career-high 51 disposals in Sunday's 27-point loss to Richmond at the MCG has kept him firmly in the running to become Brisbane's latest Brownlow medallist.
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Neale himself insists other contenders such as Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield and ex-Fremantle teammate Nat Fyfe will pick up the game's highest individual honour.
But he's only too aware of the Lions' not-too-distant history with the Brownlow.
"Growing up, loving the game and they were a champion side. Certainly looked up to those guys growing up," Neale said.
"I used to barrack for Port. We often were losing to the Lions in my childhood.
"They've obviously been champions of the game, Brownlow medallists but to be honest I don't think they would've been thinking about that award at the time either.
"They were winning premierships, which is what we're trying to achieve now."
Akermanis in action for the Lions in 2005. Picture: AFL Photos
Neale's stellar first season with the Lions is almost certain to rewarded with Virgin Australia AFL All Australian selection on Wednesday with teammates Dayne Zorko, Charlie Cameron, Hugh McCluggage and Harris Andrews also in contention.
But it is the rematch with the Tigers at the Gabba on September 7 in a mouth-watering qualifying final which is where Neale's focus is firmly set.
"I'm surprised that we finished second but I'm not surprised that we're playing finals otherwise I wouldn't have come to the club." he said.
"I'm certainly channelling all my energy to the next few weeks hopefully. That starts with Richmond in a couple of weeks."