Loving the unloved

According to some commentators, I don’t exist. Or worse, I’ve been conjured up by evil geniuses in AFL marketing. The people who dished up Meatloaf as quality fare must have also come up with me. How else could I exist when my team is “plastic” and “unloved”?

For those who believe that the competition should never come North of the Murray, what would someone like me know? I grew up in the days when there was only one game of Aussie Rules on television each weekend, and the sound of the crowds cheering and the parents screaming were around the games of rugby league.

Some of us had a rugby league team from an early age, and we were initiated in the arcane rituals surrounding the offside rule and contested scrums.  We had our gods, and they won the Rothmans Medal, the Dally M, or the JJ Giltinan Shield.

But then, suddenly, the sport was at war.  Clubs went into different competitions against teams thrown together by players tempted by unlimited war chests. My heart sank and my love for the game diminished.

When I sought solace in the AFL, my local team was Sydney. My allegiance was not tribal, it was convenience. History? Tradition? My recollections were of pink cars and Capper’s shorts. They’d reinvented themselves into a proper team so it’s Kelly, Lockett, Roos, Goodes, Hall, Kirk and Micky O. No dickheads. Just results.

I occasionally went and watched them play, usually when they played my husband’s team.  I cheered them on and was on the edge of my seat in 2005 and 2006. I have a red and white checked scarf.

But I live in Western Sydney. I can’t remember the Swans trying to grow the game out here. Certainly potential for membership growth given there’s over a million of us living out here.

Then someone, lured by dollars from broadcast rights and merchandise, decided to give us a team.

And then someone decided to give the team a mouth and heart. They gave us Sheedy.

My son started Auskick last year. He’s been to club night at Blacktown, kicked a ball to Jonathon Patton, had Callan Ward at a special Auskick home training night pass the ball back and forth to him when they ran to the next activity. He’s hooked. And so am I.

Tradition doesn’t spring fully formed from the head of Andrew Demetriou. It must be built. And built by its players, its officials and its fans.

We went to the NAB Challenge match on the weekend. There weren’t many of us, but we were vocal. And there was orange. Orange on toddlers, orange on grand parents. Cheering on kids who are big on potential. Sure, we’d barely fill a bay of the G, but we wanted to be there to build a true AFL club and an AFL community.

Plastic? Artificial? Unloved? Looking around the oval at Blacktown, anything but. There was potential. And there was heart.

About Kath Presdee

Just a suburban girl, just a suburban girl. Lawyer by day, wife and Mum by night. I experience the agony and the ecstasy of sport, having followed Cronulla all my life, the Brumbies all their life and as a foundation member of the Giants.

Comments

  1. Kath

    For what it’s worth, I expect the Giants to move past the Suns this year. Smart recruiting both for the short and long term, wise leadership too. I am more concerened about their rise up teh ladder over the next few years that the Gold Coast mob.

    I also think you are more likley to play with the full 22 this year without the athletically gifted but charity spot that was Falou in the side.

    Has the rise of the Wanderers taken any gloss of the Giants profile out there?

    Sean

  2. Great stuff, Kath.
    I often think that the only thing that matters is our passion for our team and for the contest and spectacle of a good game. Our different colours and the result only provide an excuse for a bit of banter.
    Please be aware that only one thing springs fully formed from Andrew Demetriou’s head – and it can’t be repeated in a family forum.

  3. kath presdee says:

    Sean

    The Wanderers is an interesting scenario. There’s a very strong soccer presence in Western Sydney and it’s surprising that it took so long to get an A League team. I think their success has taken everybody by surprise as well. To some extent it has taken the gloss off the Giants, but there’s room for many sports out here.

    What the Wanderers have done is show that there is an appetite for sport other than rugby league. If ALeague was a winter comp, the Wanderers would be a threat to GWS and several league teams. As it’s in summer, people are able to go to Wanderland without having to make a choice.

  4. PeterSchumacher says:

    Having barracked for totally useless underdogs (Brisbane Bears) I can tell you that when the time comes successes are heady and fantastic. Then you know why you stuck to the team in its bad days, hope and faith in the future. I reckon that GWS does indeed have a soul as well, unlike say the Gold Coast (but I suppose that they have God, or at least his son).

    I really hope actually that the Wanderers might be an inspiration to the team in Sydney’s West which carries the flag for our code, the best code, Greater Western Sydney.

Leave a Comment

*