"I'm not quite sure why that was said": Longmire. Photo: Getty Images
Reigning premiership coach John Longmire has registered his disappointment with Greater Western Sydney chief executive David Matthews and his "disrespectful" comments about the Swans, as the bad blood continued to flow between the two cross-city rivals.
The Swans have been privately seething over comments made last month at the pre-season launch by Giants officials, who said the older club had failed to adequately promote the code during its 30 years in Sydney.
Matthews, a former AFL executive who ran game development from Sydney before taking over the Giants, heightened that animosity when he said on the eve of Saturday's local derby: ''I'm not sure Swans culture has always lent itself to being accessible. They close ranks and have been a very tight unit and they win, and everybody respects them.
''We've got a bigger task to engage with communities in western Sydney that are particularly new to the game. I want to make sure we balance up the inner sanctum football requirements to the needs of being accessible.''
Longmire said Matthews' comments were inaccurate and "disrespectful. A lot of people have done a lot of hard work over 30 years," he said. "I'm talking about the board, people who have tipped in a heap of money to keep the club and the competition up here afloat, people like Craig Davis and others who've really done the hard yards."
Longmire said he was ''surprised'' by Matthews' comment.
''I think our football department and our media department go out of our way to speak to any journalist or media. I'm not quite sure why that was said," he said.
The Swans off-field hierarchy also remains steadfast in the view the ''Greater Western Sydney Giants'' title will eventually be abbreviated to the ''Sydney Giants''; the club have already moved their base significantly closer to Sydney's central business district, from Blacktown to the Olympic Park precinct at Homebush.
While the two clubs remain philosophically at odds over marketing and promotion, that divide became even wider with the Giants' decision to christen the local derby: "The Battle of the Bridge." Longmire is understood to have agreed with the sentiments aired by his predecessor Paul Roos', who wrote in his weekend column that the title gave "the false impression that the Swans' aren't Sydney's team."
Captain Kieran Jack and teammate Josh Kennedy also criticised the ''Bridge'' moniker, and the Swans made a pointed reference to their work across Sydney in their pre-game banner. When the Swans host the next game between the two clubs they will refer to the clash as ''the derby''.
Longmire said his club also took issue with Matthews' prediction the Giants would reach 30,000 members quicker than the Swans had. While the reigning premiers are on track to break the membership record of 32,452 they reached in 2007, the Giants in their second season have already passed 10,000 members, a figure the Swans did not reach until their 16th season, in 1997.
"I would like to think our fan base would grow quicker,'' Matthews said.
"That comment was not reflective of the true situation," Longmire said. "It was not right and not respectful. We want to be embedded in Sydney's culture and we've worked hard to do that over many years.
"Our Team Swans program, the hours of community work we put in every week has hopefully made it easier for the Giants in setting up here.
"We're really proud of what's been done and we're really respectful of all clubs, including the GWS, and we'll do everything we can to help them establish a footing. I just think something's been lost in translation along the way."