When the new year dawned on the Australian Football League’s mid-west, the club that had been struggling in the mid-2000s was ready to step up.
“I had been thinking about a new start and a new era, so we decided to go back to basics,” the Rabbitohs’ Ben Lowe says.
The club’s owner, Paul Roos, who had been involved with the AFL for a decade, brought in two young men with an unusual combination of ambition and talent.
“We had two very promising young guys, Ben and Tom, who were on the cusp of something big,” Roos says.
“The AFL was looking for a new direction and Ben and I thought we had the potential to be successful in the AFL.” “
The Rabbitohts would go on to win the premierships in 2002 and 2003. “
The AFL was looking for a new direction and Ben and I thought we had the potential to be successful in the AFL.”
The Rabbitohts would go on to win the premierships in 2002 and 2003.
The two boys’ success would go far beyond the club’s early years.
They would become one of the most successful sporting teams in Australian football history, taking on teams like the Western Bulldogs, the Essendon Bombers and the Melbourne Storm in their prime.
The Rabbitays also became the first team to win a premiership in the modern era.
“It was a great time for football in Australia,” Roas says.
“It was great to be in a position to be able to be the first AFL club to win premiership.”
Tom and Ben would leave the club to play their football on the Gold Coast, where the club won a premiersing season in 2009.
“If you think about it, we’d never won a game in the premies, never,” Roars says.
This year the Rabbitays are on course to win more than 100 games, and have played 10 premiers on their way to a new flag.
And for Tom and Benny, it is a chance to take the next step in their football careers.
“That’s the one thing about being a Rabbitoh,” Benny says.
They were lucky enough to win on the day when the AFL was about to get its biggest media spotlight in years, when the grand final was played.
“A lot of people are going to get it in their head and go, ‘They won the flag in the grand finals,'” Benny says, with a laugh.
“But they were lucky to get the grandfinal and we’ll take that as a huge win.”
Ben Lowe’s team has won six grand finals, and won a grand final in the past four years, as well as the 2015 premiership after defeating the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle in a thriller.
They will be hoping to replicate that success when they take on Carlton at the MCG on Saturday night.
Ben Lowe has a lot to be proud of.
“What I am most proud of, Ben, is that we have had some great players come through the club,” Roose says.