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GWS face one Giant task

Drumming up support: GWS coach Kevin Sheedy with breakfast television hosts Melissa Doyle and David Koch on Wednesday.

Drumming up support: GWS coach Kevin Sheedy with breakfast television hosts Melissa Doyle and David Koch on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images

Greater Western Sydney Giants play Port Adelaide Power at Skoda Stadium on Sunday. A match between a team that has not won a game and a team that has not won in seven weeks.

David Koch and Melissa Doyle, hosts of a breakfast television program, were enlisted to promote the game. Koch is the chairman of Port Adelaide and Doyle was tempted to leave her ambassadorial role with the Sydney Swans to become the Giants' No.1 ticketholder. A recruiting coup the Giants have not yet matched on the field.

Yet, as adept as Kochie and Mel might be at turning the mundane reality of politics and business into something frothy, light and palatable for their army of breakfast-time devotees, the Giants-Power game is a hard sell. Indeed, if they can convince more than half a dozen people to abandon the harbour cruise, lunch with the family or even root canal surgery to attend this match, they will have earned their sauvignon blanc and canapes.

This is not another predictable attempt to cut the Giants down to size. The scoreboard has done a reasonable job of that. Eleven defeats by an average margin of 69 points. Raw figures that are a free kick to those hoping the AFL's expeditionary force will fail. Not all these doomsayers live north of the Murray.

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett said last week GWS would be the AFL's Gallipoli. He did not, presumably, mean a historic occurrence that symbolised the birth of nationhood. Others, including Swans president Richard Colless, have opted to warn western Sydney could be the ''AFL's Vietnam''. Which leaves ''the AFL's Tobruk'', ''the AFL's Iraq'', ''the AFL's Pearl Harbour'' and ''the AFL's Being Lara Bingle'' still available for those looking to compare the Giants perilous beginnings with other atrocities.

Anyone who has bothered to study the Giants' long-term strategy knows some of the gloom is ill-founded. Particularly the fears of those whose assessment is based solely on the club's initial on-field performance. Even if you believe the AFL is throwing good money after bad, there is no doubt they will keep doing it. The Giants will be given every chance to succeed over the next decade - even if they fail.

Similarly, the Giants' list of young stars remains coveted. From competent performances, like the first three quarters against Geelong last week when they trailed by two goals, more consistency will flow. Gold Coast Suns chose to complement their youth with an array of mid-aged stars including the brilliant Gary Ablett. Thus, they are proving more competitive in their third year than GWS will be in the early stages.

The Giants expect their team to grow with their supporter base. To use the awful expression favoured by those who mistake their life for a reality TV show, GWS want the fans to be part of their ''journey''. It remains, with the AFL's generous backing, a cogent plan. But one that requires unusual resilience.

Especially now, midway through the second year, when you can feel the first tremors. There is a growing feeling that the Giants must ''win now'' and ''can't continue to be embarrassed'', or their crowds - typically about 6000 - will not grow. Consequently, a call for short-term measures to provide long-term solutions. Hello Buddy Franklin, the powerful and charismatic Hawthorn forward cast as an instant solution to the Giants' problems on the field and, particularly, at the box office. But is he? Perhaps the most significant thing to consider about Franklin's potential signing is not what he would bring to the Giants, but how much he would debilitate the team he forsakes. Hawthorn have an able replacement in Jarryd Roughead and, in Cyril Rioli, perhaps the best small forward in the AFL. That Hawks fans are not climbing out on to window ledges at the thought Buddy might leave seems telling.

That Franklin has been mentioned as part of a supposed brat pack of high-profile cross-code, multi-club players - Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale et al - has made some believe he might be more inclined to leave Hawthorn for Sydney. Yet, at the same time, it has made others wonder if any club should approach him with caution.

Franklin is doubtless in the Giants' cross-hairs. But, with their younger - potentially even better - key forward Jeremy Cameron on song, they have a chance to do something to silence the critics without reaching for the cheque book. Win.

7 comments so far

  • GWS will mirror what the Suns have done this year and show huge improvement next season. The on field performances of their kids is better than the Suns at the same stage and they haven't had the advantage of an Ablett so far. Their superstar will come next year when Franklin comes up and he will join a crop of the most talented young players in the comp who after completing their 3rd pre season will be getting strong enough to compete with the competition. I reckon the on field performance will turn around real quick for the Giants and with that so will attendances and media coverage.

    Commenter
    Pbm
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 16, 2013, 7:04AM
    • Once again Richard an insightful article. There does however look to be one glaring inaccuracy. Why does the AFL continue to claim that there are crowds of approximately 6000? Maybe 3000 at a stretch. Perhaps if the AFL were to record and publish statistics for the upcoming federal election we would find Julia Gillard in a neck and neck race with the incoming Tony Abbott. Here's an idea, how about Sheedy take up a position in the Labour party when his services are no longer required at Western Sydney? Julia-" How does it look Sheeds?" Sheedy-" Are we counting boat people?" Julia- " Kevin!" Sheeds- " Oh yeah forgot we can't say that. Bloody killing 'em. We'll win for sure!"

      Commenter
      unclebinnu
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 16, 2013, 7:45AM
      • I assume you talking about GWS average including the crowds from WA,SA,Vic because they would be lucky to total 6000 in the games they have played in Sydney at their so called home ground.
        But then Richard this is just a continuation of the reason I don't watch Offsiders any more since they appear to think you are a rugby league anything,you are just another AFL puff piece writer with all the lack of research that it entails.
        Just give you an AFL handout and hey presto out comes a column extolling the virtues of a non team with a coach who should quit while he was ahead,from what I can gather in Sydney he is regarded as a not very funny joke.
        Maybe you can apply to be chief propaganda man for them, at least that would be honest and all would know where you are coming from in your sports?read AFL centric coverage

        Commenter
        John
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        June 16, 2013, 9:32AM
        • sincere apologies SMH. Many thanks for posting my comments.

          Commenter
          unclebinnu
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          June 16, 2013, 10:52AM
          • One thing that is certain about the GWS team.After they have been playing for 100 years, they won't be pulling sub 10,000 crowds, like some NRL teams are.

            Commenter
            Aussie Jack
            Date and time
            June 16, 2013, 11:02AM
            • The 9000 men of the AIF 9th Division were not defeated during their 9 month-long siege of Tobruk. There the Easter Battle of 1941 took place in which the NSW 2/17th Battalion and in particular the 17ths B Company( dad and his mates including at least one aboriginal warrior elder from Wollongong ) jumping out of their foxholes to engage with fixed bayonets and wipeout a large number of the enemy infantry as they entered the outskirts of Tobruk behind the Panzer tanks. No wonder they didn't speak about it and we're just starting to realise what they had to do. The short silhouetted scene was shown on the ABC at the start of the 2012 production "Desert War" film about Tobruk on Anzac night last April 25. The Easter 1941 Battle was the first victory for the Allies in WW2. The Aussies, Kiwis,Polish and Indians were not defeated at Tobruk. They left Tobruk to go onto the AIF's bloody major engagement of WW2 which was the Battle of El Alamein and which heralded the second defeat of General Rommel's Afrika Korp. Tobruk was left in the hands of other Allied forces to defend the fortification. By the way about 4 of the 9 battalions(x1000) were young men from NSW and Qld and no doubt followed their own cultural sporting roots of Rugby League and some Union.

              Commenter
              Coasty
              Date and time
              June 16, 2013, 12:09PM
              • Homebush isn't the Western Suburbs, not to most western suburbs residents. Hopefully GWS are like 'Being Lara Bingle'. Short-lived.

                Commenter
                tosho
                Date and time
                June 16, 2013, 5:18PM

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