Finals Week 2 – GWS v West Coast: Megaphones and music united – The defiant Giants march on

 

As we gathered at the Giants’ HQ in Olympic Park for the pre-match function, the mood was apprehensive. There was some confidence that the team would roll the Eagles, as had happened twice before this season. There was one view forwarded that such a rolling needed to happen “early, so we don’t have to worry about whether we’ll make it”. A reasonable position to take at least for our nerves as supporters. What also happened at the function was the gathering of the Orange Army, a new name for our supporters, complete with new logo and merch. It’s fun to now have an orange fist representing us. They also gave us cardboard megaphones, as to amplify the sound of our small but passionate crew. Makes a bit of a difference from the Swans’ cardboard clappers.

 

The author with his new cap and megaphone

 

As we gathered to march from HQ to the ground – now a finals tradition – there was another innovation marching with us – a marching band, playing our song and accompanying our chants. It’s pretty appropriate to have a brass marching band playing our song, considering it’s the most brass-heavy in the AFL. Behind them, the increasingly growing Defiant Giants’ supporting group sang along. It was great fun, marching along amongst people travelling to the game, as well as the hordes of Parramatta supporters waiting for their final to start. (On a side note, as a former Parramatta supporter, I had not recalled seeing so many Parramatta shirts and jerseys as I had in the week leading up to the semi-final)

 

And then we got to the game, ready to see which Giants would show up. The Giants’ season has been very puzzling. Fast-slow-fast-slow-snail. The Adelaide Qualifying Final Giants’ play was more like the moment of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 where it’s slow, puzzled, confused, directionless and boring.

Giants v Adelaide

Last night, almost from the first bounce, the Giants were much more like the moment, a few bars later, when suddenly everyone in the orchestra wakes up and the music moves in a dazzling, spectacular, unified whirl.

Giants v Eagles

 

The musical theme continued through the game. There was a clicking together of the midfield ensemble that had not been seen for a while – we saw glimpses against Melbourne, in fourth quarters, and in the first quarter against Richmond. But nothing as sustained as this performance across the first half. Coniglio, Kelly and Ward all shone, as did a revitalised Toby Greene. The brass band was given a position behind the goals, and their job was to play the song after each goal. There were so many goals toward the end of the first half and early in the second half that they decided that instead, they would play the theme from Game of Thrones. Appropriate for a team loathed as much as the Lannisters by some south of the border.

 

The difference between these Giants and the ones who played Adelaide and Geelong was considerable. The spread and speed were back, and it was helping that Rory Lobb was winning the ruck battle, both in hitouts, as well as hitouts to advantage – a vast difference from his previous experience as the main ruckman v Goldstein.  It was important also that the second tier players were all chipping in with meaningful contributions – Himmelberg, Taranto and Deledio all impressed, as did De Boer. In that category we can include Corr, who is showing himself as a very solid defender.

 

One of the other main differences was the way the ball was coming into the forward line. The bombing it in long faded quickly, when McGovern and Barrass were easily intercepting those.  Instead, there was more clever kicking to various targets inside the 50, and Patton was being very useful all over the ground with a pre-injury Jeremy Cameron-like workrate and possession count. Once he gets over the yips he had in the first quarter, he looms as a big factor in the upcoming prelim.

 

But of course… the main star of this game – the soloist in this concerto – was Stevie J. The return of the old pro had him being helped a great deal by the dominance of the midfield – and his six goals showed him at his tricky best. He was so on song that he even nailed set shots. So, it was inevitable that he was the star to appear in the Melbourne papers the next day. His Show continues for at least another week, whilst the last bars had been played by Priddis, Petrie and Mitchell. It was somewhat appropriate that the latter two scored goals in the final quarter.

 

There was another narrative that emerged – somewhat predictably – from the game. The crowd who attended was slightly smaller than the one that saw the previous Giants – Eagles game at the Showground.  This can be put down to a number of factors, such as the Richmond-style comeback of Parramatta to finals NRL in a game played next door at ANZ at the same time; to the prices of going to this game on top of a regular membership; to the fact it was a WA team, where supporters had already made the trip a month before.  Such reasons, however, did not come into calculations from the usual Melbourne sources of derision for the Giants – Andy Maher and Francis Leach – the latter’s aspirations to be SEN’s Titus O’Reily continues.

 

For us, the people who do exist, the ones seeing crowd average and membership increases each year, we do care about our team. But we as an supporter group are used to this kind of “joke” at our expense. Us “not existing” is the same as a Collingwood supporter’s missing teeth and the Richmond supporter’s microwaved membership card. A punchline to be recycled onto all forms of media, especially Twitter.  This dedication to recycling, however, is mattering less and less as we in the Orange Army close ranks and share the joy of this journey.

 

As for the next movement in this concerto, I was not going to head to the Prelim if we just squeaked home against the Eagles. But the nature of the win convinced me to lean against my car after the game, booking flights to and from Melbourne, ready for the cauldron that will be the MCG with 90,000 Richmond fans. I fully expect to see the yellow and black army to be snarling and snapping, like direwolves ready to fight for the long awaited Iron Flag. I hope for the kinds of firey display that we see here conducted by hardened Richmond tragic Ben Northey. Sparkling and gripping.  Whatever the result, we megaphone wielding army in orange can be satisfied with this season, no matter what happens from here.

 

Read more of our coverage of the GWS v West Coast game HERE.

About Mark O'Sullivan

A teacher, musician and GWS Giants Foundation Member

Comments

  1. Brilliant Mark. Ignore the tired tropes from the media and unenlightened twits on Twitter. Enjoy!

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    You’ve certainly illustrated the issues faced by your fledgling club Mark, but unless and until they are overcome, the comments will continue.

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