The Lions’ only senior grade flags to date were won in 1982 and 1983, when the club went by the name of City United. The 1983 season was a spectacularly successful one all round for the club which, in addition to its premiership, provided both the Crathern Medal winner for league best and fairest (Tony Bolge) and the competition’s leading goal kicker in Rodney Cockatoo.
City United originated in 1969 as a breakaway from North Cairns which boasted a preponderance of players at the time. Midway through the 1969 season United replaced Babinda in the Cairns Australian Football League’s reserves competition. The club was elevated to senior status in 1973 and quickly came to terms with the enhanced demands of football at the higher level. In 1975 United made its first senior grade grand final appearance, but lost to Centrals Aloomba. After that there were further losing grand finals appearances in 1976 against North Cairns and 1979 against Centrals before the club broke through for the first of its back to back flags in 1982. Since then the club has experienced its fair share and more of ups and downs but it remains a vital part of the flourishing Cairns football scene. That said, the 2017 season was little short of disastrous as the Lions lost all 18 matches contested to end up with the wooden spoon. A year later they showed a modicum of improvement to finish one place off the bottom of the ladder after winning three times in 18 starts. The improvement carried on in a 2019 campaign which produced finals qualification and an ultimate finishing position of fourth, a result that was duplicated a year later.
AFL players Mark West (Footscray) and Che Cockatoo-Collins (Essendon and Port Adelaide) commenced their football with City’s Cobras as the club was known until fairly recently.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications