Liberty A-League Season Preview: Brisbane Roar

Roar’s new state-centric philosophy is coming through loud and clear in a remodelled squad full of local talent, under a coach in Garrath McPherson who knows the Queensland scene better than most.

Major ins: Hollie Palmer, Katrina Gorry, Natalie Tathem

Major outs: Leticia McKenna, Isobel Dalton, Kim Carrol, Tameka Yallop, Emily Gielnik

Georgia Yeoman-Dale’s Best XI

Paramount+/Channel 10 football expert Georgia Yeoman-Dale gives her verdict on the Brisbane Roar squad.

Strengths: “A strong Queensland core and strength in attack. You look at Mariel Hecher, Larissa Crummer, Katrina Gorry and Shay Connors: that’s pretty lethal going forward.” 

Weakness: “Central defence. The absence of Clare Polkinghorne and Kim Carroll, they are huge losses for the Roar.”

Key player: “Katrina Gorry is one of those players who is so hard to mark. She can shoot from distance, she can pick apart a defence with one pass, so you think ‘do I press up on her to shut down the pass?’ But then you’re opening up other spaces. 

“I think adding to that, knowing she’s trying to push to get back for Matildas Asian Cup selection; that’s where her focus is. She knows she’s going to have to perform in the A-League to get in it.”

Verdict: “It’s a good side – they’ll compete to be in the top four.”

Coach: Garrath McPherson

Roar record: n/a

A man who lives and breathes women’s football has been given a remit to build an A-League / Women’s side in the image of its state – a task he has taken to with gusto. It helps that McPherson knows the club well, having served as assistant to Mel Andreatta for several years including Roar’s title win of 2017-18.

It also helps that as coach of the Queensland Academy of Sport’s women’s NPL team previously, McPherson knows the local talent landscape well, and has recruited heavily from within its stocks.

Garrath McPherson is the Roar’s new head coach.

Can’t take your eyes off: Katrina Gorry

In a squad so radically different to the one that finished second last year, Gorry offers experience and poise, as well as the know-how of what it takes to win a title , having done so twice with the Roar previously.

After giving birth to a baby daughter in August, Gorry has been working intensely to be fit for the new season, and her leadership will be vital in such a remodelled and inexperienced squad. This will be her 10th season in the orange of her hometown club and Gorry also has the incentive of seeking a return to the national team, after missing the Olympics due to her pregnancy.

She won’t need much of an incentive to shoot from distance either – Gorry only managed one goal last season in the four games before she had to stop playing, but it was quite a strike from a long way out.

Katrina Gorry is back at Brisbane after giving birth in August.

Reasons to be cheerful: successful clubs need leaders, and the Roar have cannily added a core of players with the personalities to set an aspirational culture. Gorry is obviously one, while another Queenslander, Natalie Tathem, returns to the club after a serious knee injury marred last season at Melbourne Victory. 

Similarly Larissa Crummer is in the mood to make up for lost time, after missing more than 750 days of football in the wake of a serious leg break. At 25, Crummer has all sorts of ambitions to fulfil, including a return to the Matildas having not played for the national team since the 2018 Asian Cup.

Then there is Jamilla Rankin, the powerful defender who played every game of last season and at 18 was nominated for young player of the year – the Lismore-born fullback has drawn comparisons with Steph Catley, and could play an even more influential role this season.

Jamilla Rankin, right, can play a significant role this season.

… and reasons to be fearful: Garrath McPherson well understands the history of success at the Roar, a club with three premierships and two championships. But the last trophy was won more than three years ago, and with such a new-look team, finding the consistency necessary to succeed in a 14-round competition will be a tall order.

While McPherson has great faith in the local signings he has made, it remains to be seen how many make the transition to the A-League Women. They have big shoes to fill, given the calibre of players Roar have lost from last season including the competition’s Golden Boot winner, Emily Gielnik, Matilda Tameka Yallop, and the Roar’s player of the year for last season, Isobel Dalton.

Fans’ eye: Vicki Stagg

Why we believe: I love Brisbane Roar as quite simply it’s my city’s football team. I have always worn the Orange and supported the women’s team win or lose as that is what a supporter does. Our former coach, Mel Andretta, held a meeting with all the fans to ask what we could do to expand our fan base and this led to the birth of the Roar Corps: the Passion and the Pride of Brisbane Town. I love hearing the songs that are made up for each player, and getting the crowd involved with the game. The women’s game, I feel, is more non-stop action, and no diving. 

Who we believe: Fans loved our Matildas, including those now departed for Europe such as Claire Polkinghorne (our captain) who we petitioned the government to build a statue of, Tamaka Yallop and of course we cheered Hayley Raso upon her return from a broken back. Looking at the current squad, fans will be cheering on Katrina Gorry who is coming back from having a baby. Everyone one loves “Mini” and her never-say-die attitude. Larissa Crummer is also a comeback queen from a broken leg.

The magic of matchday is… being at the ground early to have either lunch or dinner together depending on the time of the game. It’s great to see the supporters all together, talking football and what the challenges will be for the game today. If it’s an away fixture the Roar Corps usually book a venue for us to meet up and watch the game on the big screen. It’s like a football family to me that supports the players and the fans.

If I could change one thing about my club... get them to commit to a home ground for the women’s team. This year we play at various venues for our home matches. 


By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

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