Gary’s Gold Coast fails to glitter, so Bluey give me a run

By Sasha Lennon

Having recently surpassed the age of the great Michael Tuck the day he retired in September 1991 (he was 38 years and 95 days old), I have finally conceded that Hawthorn will not be phoning me any time soon with an invitation to come down to training on a Thursday night.

But I reckon Guy McKenna might.

I say this for the simple reason that on Saturday night, the Gold Coast Suns, in their AFL debut against Carlton at the Gabba, were nothing short of appalling to watch.

Now admittedly, the Blues are a reasonably talented bunch of footballers and sitting in the stands with my three kids for this history-making occasion along with 28,000 other spectators, Carlton looked pretty good.

But the Gold Coast were really bad.

Sure, the great Gary Ablett Jr. was underdone and in any case we should have expected this team of talented teenagers with a few well-paid veterans to fall short in their first outing, but by 119 points?

In Round 1 of 1987, the then Brisbane Bears, a team of cast-offs, comfortably overcame North Melbourne at the MCG in the debut match, and then beat the Cats at Kardinia Park the following week!

For the past two years we’ve had to listen to the whining of every AFL coach and administrator about the unfair advantage afforded the new Gold Coast franchise through their generous draft concessions and out-of-contract player entitlements.  But it’s all amounted to nothing.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was the performance on Saturday of ‘rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt’.  (That’s how the newspapers always refer to him – ‘rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt’).

‘Special K’ managed just five touches and from where I was sitting they were all hard-ball gets.  By that I mean Karmichael found it really hard to get his hands on the ball.

Since then, every man and his dog in AFL circles has been analysing and dissecting the Karmichael Hunt experiment.

Former Richmond and Bulldogs coach Terry Wallace reckons Special K cost the Suns between eight and ten goals, while columnist with The Australian Patrick Smith is concerned that Karmichael’s career could be damaged irreparably.

But my seven year old daughter perhaps summed it up best when she said “Gold Coast sucks”.

Maybe they do for now.  But for the sake of football and my desire to see our native game take hold in my adopted home of Queensland, I really do hope the Suns improve.

With time I’m sure they will.  But for now, they need as much help as they can get.

So Bluey, give me a guernsey.  I guarantee you I’ll get a kick.    

Sasha Lennon is a Brisbane-based Knacker whose writing can be found at


  1. Mulcaster says

    I know it is way too early to write the Gold Coast off and generally speaking most people will wish for the club to get stronger etc…..but it was like the first time I watched “Adam Hills in Gordon St. tonight” it was crap, I knew it and it was such profound crap that I knew it was never going to get any better. It was like watching a geriatric play the spoons.

  2. Rick Kane says

    This is from the Wikipedia page, ‘The History of the VFL/AFL:

    “In 1925, Footscray (now the Western Bulldogs), Hawthorn and North Melbourne joined the VFL … North along with Hawthorn remained “chopping blocks” for a very long period.

    North Melbourne were not to win more than eight games in a season until 1944 and Hawthorn only once won more than seven until 1954. Between them, Hawthorn and North Melbourne finished in last place fifteen of the twenty-nine years from their admittance until 1953 – by which time however North had become a powerful side and finished in the first two on the ladder in 1949 and 1950.

    In all but two of the fifteen seasons between 1941 and 1955 either Hawthorn or St. Kilda finished last. Footscray adapted to the VFL with the most ease of the three clubs and by 1928 were well off the bottom of the ladder”.

    So the Suns get routinely thrashed, so the Hunt experiment may fail, so what.

    And while I’m on this boxy thing, I don’t really get the argument that they are a fabricated team. Like, yeah, and? Wasn’t every team born from nothing? There was no such thing as the West Coast Eagles prior to 1987. The Suns may be forming in far less fertile soil than the Eagles but I can tell you the Eagles story is not without its darkside. In its rush to join the VFL, Western Australian football administrators, in ‘creating’ the Eagles, decimated the local competition.

    Sasha, I hope you and your family stay with the Suns because as the kids grow they will have stories to tell, which will include the worst of times but undoubtedly will at some point include the best of times as well.

    St Kilda and Footscray supporters have one Premiership to talk of and still they barrack and believe.


  3. Thanks for that Rick. I’m actually not a Suns supporter but a Hawthorn man, so your short history I’m only too familiar with. Not that I was around back then, but at Hawthorn they still drum it in to you, which I appreciate.

    You’re right, every team starts from scratch. Clinton Walker’s “A Football Life” provides a very good account of how the Bears hurt the then QSFL back in the late 1980s. I truly hope the Suns succeed and I don’t have an issue with the concessions they’ve been granted. I heard Mick Malthouse complaining today that Collingwood doesn’t get enough byes or has to travel to the Docklands twice this year or something. He needs to put things into context.

    What I saw at the Gabba was hard to watch but expected I suppose. My slightly coloured account was an honest assessment nonetheless (and seven year-olds see things for what they are – though in a similar context to Mr. Malthouse).

    I pity Saints fans. I reckon another window is just about shut.

    We’ll probably keep a close eye on the Suns as our ‘third team’ up here behind the Hawks the Roy Boys.

    Mulcaster, you’re a harsh man. I like that show.


  4. Dave Nadel says

    #2 I don’t know how valid the comparison with 1925 is Rick. In 1925 three new teams were being added to a one city competition which was highly tribal and geographically defined. (zoning, individual homegrounds, every ground next to a railway station)

    In that context, the late entry to the VFL created problems for the new teams, particularly North Melbourne and Hawthorn. Footscray had the advantage of being the only team West of the Maribyrnong. North Melbourne however was carved out of what had been Essendon territory and was far too close to Carlton. Its only selling point against the Dons was that the Shinboners were Catholic and Working Class while Essendon were Protestant and Middle Class and those things mattered in 1925. North had to win supporters in its own zone and it has always had trouble doing that, even during its glory days in the mid seventies and the late nineties.

    Hawthorn had the Eastern suburbs to itself but it hadn’t really been a senior team for all that long before it joined the VFL. There were loads of middle and upper class football fans in Hawthorn and Kew. A lot of them were Melbourne and Carlton fans. Some of them were Collingwood and Richmond barrackers who had moved across the river when they had made some money. Very few of them were Hawthorn barrackers.

    Hawthorn started developing a larger supporter base when the post war expansion of Melbourne placed a whole swag of suburbs East of Camberwell.

    I think that you are right Rick that the Gold Coast will eventually develop into a competitive team, all the expansion teams outside of Melbourne have. But I think they face very different problems to the Victorian expansion teams 85 years ago

  5. One thing I noticed at the Suns game last weekend was the number of what I would call ‘genuine Aussie Rules supporters’, that is, Aussie Rules is their first game. This, I believe, is due largely to the significant number of ex-pat Victorians who live on the Gold Coast, and the Gold Coast has always had a very strong Aussie Rules culture. It was certainly a different crowd to that of a Brisbane Lions match. It reminded me of a VFL park crowd from the early 1990s. It had a distinctly suburban feel to it. It was nice. I believe this strong ‘cultural’ influence alone will help the Suns go a long way. (Though it hasn’t helped Freo too much to date; maybe it just takes time).

Leave a Comment