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.