News, Culture & Society

When the GWS Giants run onto the MCG for the AFL grand final the sound of boos will be loud

When GWS Giants bust through the banner at the MCG on Saturday afternoon the flogs sitting alongside AFL chief Gillon McLachlan will probably be the only people in Australia cheering them on.

‘Well done boss, we did it.’ 

Cue to evil laugh and the popping of champagne corks. 

To be fair, no-one expects GWS to crash through the banner. The darlings will run under it – wouldn’t want to mess up their hair. 

GWS Giants dash through a dangerous paper banner unscathed during an appearance at the MCG. They can expect to cop a collective ‘Boo’ from the grand final crowd on Saturday

Gillon McLachlan, CEO of the AFL, presents Kevin Sheedy with a Giants jumper during the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL media session at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on March 10, 2015. The AFL has done all it can to help the Giants make a grand final

Gillon McLachlan, CEO of the AFL, presents Kevin Sheedy with a Giants jumper during the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL media session at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on March 10, 2015. The AFL has done all it can to help the Giants make a grand final

It’s of course ridiculous to suggest silence will greet the Giants. 

Punters can get $3.20 on them in a head-to-head win at the TAB and if they achieve the unthinkable and smash the Tigers by 40-plus points, you can get $15.

If it wasn’t for gambling and an excuse to sit around with mates and smash a dozen beers, you’d sooner kick back on the couch and watch re-runs of Deadwood on Stan. 

For the Richmond fans forced to sit at home and watch the game on the telly, the very sight of white, orange and … charcoal? C’mon, charcoal? Even their colours are stupid.  

But I digress. 

Top 5 reasons you should hate the GWS Giants 

1: Toby Greene

2: Toby Greene

3: Toby Greene

4:  Draft, list and salary cap concessions

5: Toby Greene

The sight of the few GWS rent-a-crowd fans who attend the MCG will infuriate Tigers fans who couldn’t get tickets. 

‘They were probably paid to attend the game,’ they’ll scoff. ‘Or were given the tickets for free.’

It’s easy to hate on the Giants. 

For starters, practically no-one is going to defend them. And if they do, who cares? 

They’ll get no love among the Melbourne press either. 

Hate Collingwood as you will, there wasn’t a news person in the business who wasn’t praying for a Pies victory over GWS in last week’s preliminary final. 

GWS fans at their home ground during their Round 19 win against the Saints this year. It is expected these fans will be watching the grand final from home on Saturday

GWS fans at their home ground during their Round 19 win against the Saints this year. It is expected these fans will be watching the grand final from home on Saturday

A Collingwood and Richmond grand final would have been massive in footy mad Melbourne. 

The Herald Sun would have made a year’s worth of sales in finals week alone with lift-outs and posters. 

If you’ve read this far you already know why people hate the Giants. 

Put simply: their grand final appearance has been gifted to them. 

Forget that the Pies were robbed last week by a ridiculously half-baked video review system – good on ya Gil – but it’s fact the Giants have had a lot of help getting where they are today. 

From day one they’ve had a helping hand with draft, list and salary cap concessions. 

In 2016, the AFL had already tipped in up to $200 million to both the GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns since late 2011. 

That cash has continued to flow in the years since with revelations in March the club received two loans from the AFL totalling $2.5 million in the space of a year on top of a $23m grant from the sport’s governing body. 

It was reported the Giants logged a $1.985m loss for the 2018 reporting period and said it remained ‘economically dependent on the continual support of the AFL’ to survive. 

Toby Greene received a one-game suspension for making contact with the eye region of Brisbane recruit Lachie Neale in the semi-final. He remains unapologetic about the incident and continues to resemble a bully from The Simpsons

Toby Greene received a one-game suspension for making contact with the eye region of Brisbane recruit Lachie Neale in the semi-final. He remains unapologetic about the incident and continues to resemble a bully from The Simpsons

GWS Giants fan Melissa Doyle posed with the AFL Premiership Cup on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2017

GWS Giants fan Melissa Doyle posed with the AFL Premiership Cup on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2017

Meanwhile local footy clubs across Melbourne wave their fists in anger at what they claim is nothing more than constant cash grabbing by the AFL. 

Clubs are livid that mums and dads who help at games are routinely being forced to obtain costly AFL-approved accreditation before a ball is bounced in junior games. 

Locals in Sydney’s west didn’t even want them. 

Rugby player Israel Folau famously signed a deal with the Giants in 2010, believed to be worth $6 million over four years in an effort to gain the club traction.

But after just two seasons at the club, with only one of those when GWS was in the AFL, Folau departed and switched to rugby union. 

It has not gone unnoticed that the Giants fans have since remained overwhelmingly white in an area that is overwhelmingly multi-cultural. 

Sports lecturer Sam Duncan wrote in The Age that some hate the fact they were given financial handouts from the AFL. 

‘Some fans view them as a plastic club, manufactured by the AFL for commercial reasons with few fans, no history and empty grandstands,’ he stated.  

The AFL had already enjoyed success with the Sydney Swans – which benefited from a legion of loyal South Melbourne supporters who continued to follow the team after it merged into New South Wales.  

Like most upstarts, GWS was atrocious to begin with, even with all the help. 

Giants supporters cheer during the AFL 2nd Elimination Final match with the Western Bulldogs at GIANTS Stadium. There were more Bulldogs fans in the crowd than Giants

Giants supporters cheer during the AFL 2nd Elimination Final match with the Western Bulldogs at GIANTS Stadium. There were more Bulldogs fans in the crowd than Giants

A group of loyal Giants supporters cheer on their idols. They will be greatly outnumbered at  the MCG on Saturday, but punters will be hoping they leave the ground happy

A group of loyal Giants supporters cheer on their idols. They will be greatly outnumbered at  the MCG on Saturday, but punters will be hoping they leave the ground happy

In 2012 they won just two games and were absolutely flogged throughout the season. 

To the club’s credit, it has soldiered on to find itself in the position it’s in right now. 

The Giants have kind of had a tough year too. 

GWS was made to travel outside of Sydney 13 times this season. 

And who will ever forget the match they played against the Hawks in Round 21 in Canberra. 

It was snowing – good one Gil. 

And GWS copped a 56-point drubbing. 

But again, it’s hard to feel sorry for a team that has a bloke like Toby Greene running about for them. 

The bloke looks like one of the Shelbyville bullies Bart goes to war with an an episode of The Simpsons. 

His list of offences includes spitting, striking, umpire contact and eye gouging.

He’s now been charged 17 times and continues to deny he made contact to the eyes of Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale. 

The bleeding hearts who can’t stand to hear a bloke booed had better turn the down the volume on their power friendly TVs on Saturday afternoon. 

It’s going to get noisy. 

Premiership on a plate: How GWS Giants went from an idea on a whiteboard to a footy powerhouse thanks to a $200 million leg up from the AFL – including the best draft picks and huge salary cap boosts

By Nic White for Daily Mail Australia

Greater Western Sydney will play its first Grand Final on Saturday just eight seasons after the AFL created it from nothing to break into the NRL heartland.

To have come so far so quickly is testament to the fledgling club’s determination to not only survive, but thrive in rugby league heartland.

However, the seemingly overnight success of the Giants may have more to do with the AFL bankrolling the club with $200 million in handouts.

GWS was also the beneficiary of best draft picks, higher salary cap, easier recruiting, and its own purpose-built stadium in Olympic Park. 

Greater Western Sydney will play its first Grand Final on Saturday just eight seasons after the AFL created it from nothing to break into the NRL heartland

 Greater Western Sydney will play its first Grand Final on Saturday just eight seasons after the AFL created it from nothing to break into the NRL heartland

As a consequence, the Giants is one of the most hated teams in the league and perceived as an AFL corporate cash-grab with an unfair advantage. 

Many diehard fans of other clubs, particularly in Melbourne, view GWS as a team manufactured by the league without real fans, identity, or history.

Western Bulldogs’ banner for the 2016 preliminary final summed it up: ‘Our club was born in blood and boots, not in AFL focus groups’.

The Giants were formed along with the Gold Coast Suns as an expansion team to grow the game’s popularity in western Sydney.

Unlike many other clubs with 100-year histories that were formed in the back of dingy pubs, creating GWS was a business decision aimed at breaking into a traditional a rugby league heartland.

Test bowler Mitchell Starc (left) and Seven News host Melissa Doyle (right) get on the Giants bandwagon along with Essendon legend and inaugural GWS coach Kevin Sheedy

Test bowler Mitchell Starc (left) and Seven News host Melissa Doyle (right) get on the Giants bandwagon along with Essendon legend and inaugural GWS coach Kevin Sheedy

Two new clubs means the AFL gets an extra game each week, which GWS president Tony Shepherd claims is worth an extra $46 million a year to its $2.5 billion TV rights.

The team is still propped up by the AFL, but now brings in more than $40 million in revenue every year and the club is ‘running sixth in the league for commercial sponsorships’.

The Giants’ corporate origin leads to most of the stereotypes it suffers through, such as a perception that it’s a ‘fake club’ with no fans.

‘It was a manufactured club, created by a business to be a business and fill a market,’ a rival fan argued on am AFL discussion board last year.

‘You support a soulless club. It was only manufactured by a mathematical equation that sought to increase the number of overall fans to the AFL at the expense of ruining the draft for a number of years.’

Even the team’s name is mocked as sounding like corporate speak and not identifying it in a way fans could engage with.

Western Bulldogs' banner for the 2016 preliminary final summed up a top reason why many AFL fans hate the Greater Western Sydney Giants

Western Bulldogs’ banner for the 2016 preliminary final summed up a top reason why many AFL fans hate the Greater Western Sydney Giants

Sportsbet's notoriously edgy social media accounts lampooned this stereotype with a photo of an empty central Parramatta after GWS' victory over Collingwood

Sportsbet’s notoriously edgy social media accounts lampooned this stereotype with a photo of an empty central Parramatta after GWS’ victory over Collingwood

GWS has about 25,000 members, with other fans long claiming, without evidence, that the numbers are inflated by the league. 

The numbers jumped from 15,000 to 20,000 in 2017 after it made the preliminary final in 2016, and gained another 5,000 with a repeat performance.

However, only 12,000 people attended GWS home games on average last season and the regular season attendance record for a game not against the Sydney Swans was 15,751 against West Coast in 2017.

Sportsbet’s notoriously edgy social media accounts lampooned this stereotype with a photo of an empty central Parramatta after GWS’ victory over Collingwood.

‘Giants into the Grand Final – absolute scenes in the city of Greater Western Sydney,’ the posts read.

Western Sydney is more multicultural than much of Australia, which was seen as an impediment to its success.

However, some recent immigrants told the local Blacktown Advocate this week that they were now diehard fans after falling in love with AFL.

Western Sydney is one of the most multicultural parts of Australia than much of Australia, which was seen as an impediment to its success, but some recent immigrants like Krushnakant Maru (pictured), who moved to Blacktown from India, said this week that they were now diehard fans after falling in love with AFL

Western Sydney is one of the most multicultural parts of Australia than much of Australia, which was seen as an impediment to its success, but some recent immigrants like Krushnakant Maru (pictured), who moved to Blacktown from India, said this week that they were now diehard fans after falling in love with AFL

Months after the Bulldog's famous banner, GWS returned fire at their next matchup

Months after the Bulldog’s famous banner, GWS returned fire at their next matchup

The Bulldogs sent back another zinger at GWS, which plays four home games a year in Canberra

The Bulldogs sent back another zinger at GWS, which plays four home games a year in Canberra

Perhaps the biggest source of ire is the leg up GWS was given when it entered the league, which fans viewed as hurting struggling Melbourne clubs.

In 2011 it was able to grab a dozen of the country’s most promising 17-year-old’s including future stars Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel, and Adam Treloar. 

Collingwood president Eddie Maguire at the time derided GWS by saying the young players would bolt as soon as they could.

‘I’ve just put a team together of your 17-year-olds who’ll be sick of living up in the land of the falafel in western Sydney playing in front of a 12,000-seat stadium that’s still not put up,’ he said. 

Rugby player Israel Folau famously signed a deal with the Giants in 2010, believed to be worth $6 million over four years in an effort to gain the club traction.

But after just two seasons at the club, with only one of those when GWS was in the AFL, Folau departed and switched to rugby union. 

In 2011, GWS got a huge load of free draft picks - numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 - plus the first eight picks in the rookie draft

In 2011, GWS got a huge load of free draft picks – numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 – plus the first eight picks in the rookie draft

The huge haul of draft picks was viewed by other fans as hurting struggling Melbourne clubs

The huge haul of draft picks was viewed by other fans as hurting struggling Melbourne clubs

Even more controversial was the academy zone (in blue) it was granted - all of NSW outside eastern Sydney and the state's northeast which the Swans got (red)

Even more controversial was the academy zone (in blue) it was granted – all of NSW outside eastern Sydney and the state’s northeast which the Swans got (red)

The same year, GWS got a huge load of free draft picks – numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 – plus the first eight picks in the rookie draft, and was able to pick four young players to trade for more picks.

Additionally it could poach one player from each club who was coming out of contract, including a host of stars.

GWS was particularly criticised for grabbing star young midfielder Tom Scully, a number 1 draft pick two years earlier, from a badly struggling Melbourne.

The team also got an extra $1 million a year in salary cap in 2012-14 and lower bonuses until 2017, plus a higher number of players it was allowed to have under contract.

Even more controversial was the academy zone it was granted – all of NSW outside eastern Sydney and the state’s northeast which the Swans got.

This allocation included the Riverina region on the border with Victoria, a fertile breeding ground for future AFL talent.

Though many of these players lived in NSW, they went to boarding school over the border in Victoria and played in the TAC Cup for Victorian teams.

Jeremy Cameron was in June 2018 was suspended for five matches for intentionally striking Brisbane defender Harris Andrews with his elbow

Jeremy Cameron was in June 2018 was suspended for five matches for intentionally striking Brisbane defender Harris Andrews with his elbow

GWS' most hated player Toby Greene appeared to fly-kick an opposition player in September last year

GWS’ most hated player Toby Greene appeared to fly-kick an opposition player in September last year

GWS could until recently draft these players much more easily in addition to having first dibbs on them.

‘GWS didn’t know some of these guys even existed, and now they are falling in their laps,’ an angry Victorian club recruiter said in 2016.

Times were still tough as the team only won three games in its first two years, finishing bottom of the ladder in both.

‘We endured three years going into work knowing that we were going to lose in ways impossible to imagine,’ GWS official Gavin Robertson told the Guardian in 2016.

‘What people don’t know or understand about our club is that we had a lot of 19 and 20-year-olds all living together, getting beaten by 15-20 goals, and then turning around on Monday and driving out to Blacktown to train.’

In 2014 it won six games and lifted itself to 16th of 18 teams, then boosted its wins to 11 the next season before suddenly making the prelims in 2016. 

In more recent years, Giants players have not done much to quench the resentment of their team with several high-profile incidents by reviled players.

Cameron was in June 2018 was suspended for five matches for intentionally striking Brisbane defender Harris Andrews with his elbow.

The blow gave Andrews a bleed on his brain and a severe concussion.

He kicked a Western Bulldogs player in the face in a similar incident in 2017

He kicked a Western Bulldogs player in the face in a similar incident in 2017

Later that year, GWS’ most hated player Toby Greene appeared to fly-kick an opposition player after a similar incident in 2017.

Then in the team’s semi final win over Brisbane, he eye gouged star player Lachie Neale. It was the 17th charge of his eight-year career.

He was suspended for the preliminary final but will play on Saturday. 

Sportsbet played up the outrage that Greene’s actions provoked to argue they would be even more hated than the AFL’s most despised team, Collingwood.

‘For maybe the first time ever, Collingwood will go in as the more likeable team,’ it wrote.

If Australia turns orange against the yellow and black tide, the league will know whether its experiment has won hearts and minds as well as matches. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.