AFL Round 23 – Western Bulldogs v GWS: The Grim Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in the shadow of the mountains, near the narrow winding river, there lived a clan of Giants.

They weren’t mean and scary Giants (except to Demons; but then the Demons of the Realm weren’t particularly strong), but they liked to fight just the same.

“We will never surrender, we’ll fight until the end” the voices would occasionally, very occasionally, echo around their home (in the shadow of the mountains, near the narrow winding river)

Their shaman, the wise old man, who had been gifted the task of preparing the Giants had stepped back and let his young assistant take charge.  The Buddy, their hero in waiting, flew further to the coast and in his place they brought in a Mummy to organise the tribe in the centre of the park.  They bought a Heater to harry the enemy.  In the thunder and the lightning they had stunned the Swans.  In the water they had drowned the Demons and then the bright sunshine they shrugged off the Blues.  They had taken their song and sung it in the Lion’s Den.  The loss of Phil the Brave and Cal the strong meant nothing as they crushed the Demons into dust on the hallowed fields.  It had been a promising season – but more for the promise of things to come but were not quite there yet.

And then to face the Sons of the West.  The battling fighters.  The no nonsense scrappers.  Who were, in truth, their spiritual brothers but who had been rebuilding the hard way.  The gritty, grafting way.

This was to be their fairy tale.  When they said to Gia “Well done, good and faithful servant”.  When they could point to their year and say “See, we repay your faith in us.  We are progressing.”

But Giants are rarely nice in fairy tales.  You want something from the Giants, you must use your wiles.  You must fight.

And so the Giants start with a goal to Rhys Palmer.  They kick straight and true.

Their opponents seem dazed.  It was their fairy tale, but the Giants had the upper hand.  They kicked straight and true.

And that speedy, weedy Giant, Will Hoskin-Elliott ran and ran and ran.  He took long strides and high leaps.  All over the ground he ran and when he kicked, he kicked straight and true.

The young Sons, their future, looked into the faces of the young Giants, their past, present and future.  But try as they might, they did not kick straight and true.

When the siren sounded the Giants had the game in their hands.  A breather to refresh them and on they ran.  They ran and ran and ran.  And when they kicked, they kicked straight and true (well maybe not the feisty Greene Giant, he suffers from dubious efficiency by foot; but that is a story for another time).  It could be a rout, not a fairy tale.  These are Giants after all.  And even though they were bidding farewell to the Giant-Cat Hunt, the fairy tale ending was not planned for them.  It was in the shifting sands of Ethihad.  The Giants had never won in battle there.  They had never beaten the Sons of the West.  But when time it blew and into the rooms they went for oranges and isolytes, the Giants were ahead by four goals.

When one thinks of Jack (he of the beanstalk, not of the Stringer) one remembers that he struck best when the Giant slumbered.  And so, as they ran on for the third quarter, the Sons did strike.  It would not be fair to say that the Giants slept; more that the Sons had awaken and sought to reclaim their story.  While sceptics may say that the day didn’t mean much, it did.  Both teams wanted, no, both teams needed, a victory.  The Sons, the gritty, grafting Sons had a fairy tale to reclaim.    It was not enough for Gia to kick a goal; his team had to win.

And so by effort and skill, momentum swung.  The gap slowly, surely, closed and then the Sons hit the lead.  It was a stunning third quarter effort.  Young Son Bont, old Sons Murphy and Griffen, new Son Crameri guided them to the front and held them there until the final quarter.  The siren sounded, tensions flared, punches flew.  Emotions were high and rising.  This game not meaning much? It meant h0w the season would be written.

And so began the final quarter – the game was anyone’s.  It wasn’t who wanted it more, because both teams wanted it most.  The winner would be the last man standing.

A bright spot under the roof was the debutant Giant, “Sunshine” McCarthy.  He had shed the green vest and joined the fray, blond locks streaming.  A handball, a scramble, first touch done.  A mark on the sideline in the forward 50.  First kick and GOAL! Difficult angle? Tight game where every score counts?  It mattered not.  A brief vignette it may have been, but it could still be a fairy tale debut for the young man.

And for the man at the other end of his career, where every minute passing was one minute closer to retirement.  A kick – out on the full.

How we got to the point where scores were level I cannot recall.  Scores were traded.  Hoskin-Elliot had kicked five.  Crameri four.  But level 109 apiece and barely any time left.

Gia kicked, a point would help but no; out on the full.

Did we breathe as we watched?  A kick in, fumble, turn over, kick into Dogs 50, FALCON, turnover, kick, scramble, hand pass, the ball is in the hands of Devon Smith.  He runs, he runs, he kicks 55 metres from goal.

He kicks straight.  He kicks true.

There are 15 seconds on the clock.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.  SIREN!

The Giants outlasted, the Giants have WON!

A guard of honour is formed for the retiring heroes.  We clap them and thank them.  But it doesn’t seem fair that the last two kicks went out on the full.

But fairy tales are not made at Ethihad; they’re more likely at the G.

Except, of course, when “AND WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER, WE’LL FIGHT UNTIL THE END” rings out for the first time.  A fairy tale ending, no matter how grim, for our boys.





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.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    A well-told fairytale win for the Giants. The Bulldogs have thrown their copies of fairytales out of the cot a long time ago. Too many heart-breaking finals losses have snapped us back to reality and we now stick to non-fiction literature. The only story-book we dip into these days is about a grim fairytale.
    Perhaps if we hadn’t sold Callan Ward for a handful of beans we could’ve handled the Giants better on Sunday.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well done Kath great read now for the giants to keep there young guns like , Cameron. Kath you have a lot to look forward too over the next decade !

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Great tale kath, thanx.
    I figured six wins for a pass this season. To have Swans among them and run Geelong and Hawthorn close makes for a decent result.
    Will HE will be our Keith Greig.

Leave a Comment