26TH APRIL 2012- SPORT- STORY LEE GASKIN - THE CANBERRA TIMES- PHOTO BY MELISSA ADAMS. Telstra Tower lit up orange for the GWS. Photo: Melissa Adams MLA
The lights were on, but nobody was home.
Iconic Telstra Tower glowed orange last night to mark the impending arrival of Canberra’s surrogate AFL team the Greater Western Sydney Giants, who only fly into town this morning on the eve of their first AFL premiership match in the capital.
The Giants will fly straight out again after tomorrow’s match against the Western Bulldogs at Manuka Oval, the first of 30 AFL premiership matches in Canberra as part of a 10-year, $26 million ACT Government-funded deal.
The lighting of Telstra Tower is the latest symbol the Giants have employed to try and reflect a connection with Canberra in their foundation season. It will be lit orange before all Giants games.
The Giants, who will wear a Canberra guernsey with the Telstra Tower insignia, will even launch a modified club song today that includes Canberra in the opening line of the lyrics: ‘‘Well, there’s a big, big sound from Canberra town. It’s the sound of the Mighty Giants’’.
‘‘We consider Canberra an integral part of this club and want people to feel connected to it,’’ Giants chief executive David Matthews said.
The Giants have defended their hit-and-run trip to Canberra for this match, given their hectic travel schedule will see them play their first six games at different venues – five in separate cities. The Giants will hold an open training session at Manuka from 1pm today.
The long-term vision of the Giants in Canberra was backed yesterday by AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, who will be at tomorrow’s game with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
‘‘Finally at least the ACT community can have a club of their own, whereas in the past we’ve had fly-in fly-out games,’’ Demetriou said.
‘‘Now as a club it gives them [the Giants] time to build and it’s not going to happen overnight and it won’t happen in one year.
‘‘It’s a long project, it’s a long commitment, it’s a long agreement and I think over time they will connect with the community.
‘‘They’re doing lots of other things outside of just the game day but I think you’ll see that that changes in time.
‘‘They are a very young team that’s finding its feet, still learning the ropes, and from our perspective they’re making a real fist of it.’’