at the beginning….

I am ‘nobody’. I am ‘no one’ – and so’s my wife.

We have been told daily for the past couple of years that ‘nobody’ wants the Giants; that ‘no one’ will go and watch. We have been told that in one of the largest, fastest growing, most diverse regions in Australia, that there is no room for us.

Well, we’re here now. Deal with us.

After the weather we’ve been having Saturday 24th March 2011 starts out in cloudless blue and thoughts turn to tonight’s historic game. We watched the boys go ’round in the NEAFL last year, and if you think the team tonight is young….

Nine of the boys we watched go around last year have made the team for tonight. I think Josh Bruce and Steve Clifton are a bit stiff in missing selection for this one but what can you do?

Those nine have been joined by five imported AFL players and eight from last year’s draft. Seventeen debutants, equal to the most since 1897. Most clubs don’t get 8 draftees in a year and wouldn’t dream of even considering debuting them all in the same game, let alone Round 1.

We are going to get hammered. But I also think we will surprise a few people throughout the year.  What I saw last year in the NEAFL gives me some hope for the season ahead, if not really for tonight. I watched the growth of the players and the growth of a club.

We were there to see what essentially was our reserve side beat the Lions, Suns and Swans reserve sides (all with AFL players playing) and we also beat the NT Thunder who went on to win the whole thing. We have some skills and more than a couple of players who will be guns in a couple of years. We just have to get through those couple of years….

NAB Cup form is pretty meaningless, but ours wasn’t bad. Close to knocking off Collingwood and the Dogs; actually beating the Suns and showing glimpses in patches against Hawthorn and Richmond.

The 99.5 point start at the line by some bookies was just insulting. It’s come in a bit but not much. I would love them to be humiliated tonight, but I’m secretly scared they might be right.

The direct train from Penrith to Olympic Park is free, who would drive? There is an encouraging amount of orange getting on the train along the way (too much red for my liking but I suppose that was to be expected.)

The crowd is largish, quite respectable really. We find out during the fourth quarter that it’s a tick over 38,000 – gotta be happy with that. Like the train, there is an encouraging amount of orange in the stadium and a huge cheer goes up as the boys break through the banner for the first time and the cossack music begins.

Early on it’s clear that the umpires are against us. It’s also clear we’re not going to take too many backward steps. The Swans get off to a flyer but we steady and 16 mins in Callan Ward kicks a captain’s goal. Our first ever (after a neat little hand off from Izzy Folau in traffic). James MacDonald lays hip, shoulder and shirtfront of the year.

Oh yes, we’re here now.

Quarter time it’s 25 -8, no disgrace at all.

The second quarter is a bit like the first: the Swans out of the blocks early, the giants peg them back. They get a bit away late, though I always thought that if you get kneed in the head the free was yours not the other way around (apparently not). Goal to Mumford just before the half time siren. The boys played OK, a couple of very nice passages of play but umpires, please.

Someone at Port Adelaide said Chad Cornes was done – they need a good talking to.

Joel Selwood tweets at half time that Stephen Coniglio is going to be a gun and I have to agree.

At three quarter time we’re down by more than we probably deserve to be but not surprising. The boys were a bit flat and the floodgates were threatening to open. We didn’t help ourselves with some dumb play at times. I’m looking at you Jeremy Cameron, kicking backwards into trouble in the defensive 50 twice, but that leaves me frustrated more than anything else. I know we can play better.

I don’t want the bookies to be right, but at three quarter time things didn’t look so good.

Holding firm in the final quarter we actually win it by a point. Izzy lays a great defensive tackle, swoops on the loose pill and handballs it to advantage, lays a shepherd and a kick and a half later James MacDonald is lining up for a set shot 30 out straight in front. It was emblematic of the sort of class of play we’re capable of and helps hold the final margin to 63 points.

Suck to anyone who took the Swans by more than 99.5. Suck to those who took them by 80.

We’ve competed, we’ve shown more than a few glimpses. We haven’t embarrassed ourselves, quite the opposite in fact. We have a long, long way to go but I don’t feel so bad wearing my gaudy orange home on the train.

Whatever happens though, however the history is written, this was the start.

About steve duffy

is in no particular order....writer, artist, graphic designer, library technician, Geelong fan, Giants fan, dad, husband, friend, brother, son, reader, lover of music, resident of Penrith, Canberra boy, Raider fan, Brumbies fan, right handed, white with two (coffee) black with two (tea), left of centre.....

Comments

  1. Correction: it was Will Hoskin-Elliot once and Jaeremy Cameron once who kicked backward into danger. My apologies to Jeremy who in fairness did take a great hanger. So a bit harsh there. Still dumb play though.

  2. pamela sherpa says:

    Steve , great summation of the night . Stuff the knockers. The Giants fans are going to enjoy the ride. I too felt great about being there on Sat night. It was great meeting heaps of happy positive footy fans too.

  3. Richard Naco says:

    I’m with you, Steve, I think it’s going to be a wild old ride and bags of fun. And down the track, the “Cossack” tune is going to be blazing in the ears of quite formidable opposition after the babes of Saturday night have muscled up some.

  4. “he signs are good. According to the doco, Wests went for as many kids as they could get so they could see how they go in the first season and then look for 23-25 yr old players to top up the areas they were lacking in.

    Smart move, Josh Fraser wasn’t really needed at Gold Coast because Zac Smith made an immediate impact.

    Good coaching setup too. Choco addressed the team at the breaks in one group, unlike the current fad for back, mid, fwd groups. Sheeds did the pre-game (well worth seeing), easy to see how they’ve divided the responsibilities between two experienced hard-nosed coaches.

    Sheeds wrote in his column in the Sunday Tele that it was vital to have a tough, hard-at-it team to win over Rugby League fans. It looks like he’s pulled it off. They didn’t give up. When the Swans kicked 5 goals in ten minutes, they still got back into the game, showed some competitive fire.

    While Wests’ first match was always gonna be against the Swans, it turned out a good choice for a few reasons. Swans are a tough team at ground level, so a good baptism in the clinches. Swans aren’t a high-scoring team, so Wests weren’t likely to get embarassingly thrashed. How they go against Hawthorn or Geelong will be another matter, but that will be in the middle of the season and less noticed/remembered.

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