GWS Giants: a new chapter opens

All stories start somewhere. All history begins. How it all turns out in the end we’ll never know, because none of us will be around, that’s the thing about history – it keeps going. All we can hope to do is break it down into manageable portions and deal with those.

In footy terms that’s easy. Quarter by quarter, game by game, and season by season. Many will look at the Giants’ first season and say it was terrible, laughable, a joke and a disgrace from a team nobody wants in an area where people shouldn’t even be allowed to touch a Sherrin. We have dealt with that all year. I, of course, don’t see it that way.

Our first season, in pure football terms, was not great, but it wasn’t the worst either. Not by a long shot – Don’t let those “modern” or “post-war” elitists put you off. Football records go back much further than that, and they are fooling no one. St Kilda still holds the worst record for a single season, and the worst for a debut season – no wins and a percentage of just 29. In fact our first season was better than St Kilda’s first six, which yielded 2 wins in total (from 99 games) and only in 1902 did their percentage crack 40 (41.88).

In fact there were very few records broken – we did not have a record score kicked against us nor did we lose by a record margin*. Both of these occurrences were at short odds at the beginning of the season, ask any pundit, re-read any article, blog or message board post.

There were more than a few floggings it’s safe to admit. But I like to think that there were mitigating circumstances amidst the greater narrative of the competition this year.
Early in the year Essendon beat the Dogs by 80 points and dropped a spot in the ladder. Let me repeat that – they won by 80 and went backwards on the ladder.
Percentage was never more important than it had been this year. Ever. Top two, top four, top eight, all hinged and swung on percentage.
Now, in days not so long ago, when one team is up by 90 in the last few minutes of a game,  they start to chip it around, slow the game down, run time off the clock. They even have a name for it – Junk Time. The only ‘Junk-Time’ we got this year was when we, ourselves, were running the clock down in the Port Adelaide game.

We bled goals in the last few minutes of quarters, halves and games when our young building-for-the-future legs ran out. It contributed to a stretch of five games in the middle of the year against the teams that eventually finished 1st 2nd 3rd 4th and 7th on the ladder and resulted in one of the worst stretches in terms of losses by big margins the game has seen.
Not only were we playing the best teams, they were all in need of big percentage boosting wins and we just couldn’t go with them, and they knew it, and they showed no mercy because they couldn’t afford to.

We did, however, come out of that horror stretch more seasoned and a little bit wiser, topped by an impressive, coach killing, win over Port to help the Master Coach celebrate his 1,000th game in the VFL/AFL.
I was there. It was glorious.
We were even with the reigning premiers down at Kardinia Park at both qtr time and half time no less. Not many have managed even that over the last half a decade.
We played some really good footy, in glimpses and in patches, and on two occasions more than anyone said we would, for four whole quarters in a game.

There was also the matter of that other record we broke. Eight, count ‘em eight, NAB Rising Star nominations. We are going to be a hell of a team in a couple of year’s time. Give these young boys another 50-70-100 games together, another three, four, five pre-seasons. We’ve extended the contracts of all eight – and a few more who could have easily been nominated besides.
The history books will record that Adelaide’s Daniel Talia won the award – as they will also record that Toby Greene was ineligible – it will be up to memory and a little bit of hindsight as to whether Jeremy Cameron was robbed or not.

Callan Ward was the utterly deserving winner of the inaugural Kevin Sheedy Medal as the club’s Best and Fairest and big Joffa Giles, who stood tall in the ruck and was more than a little handy up forward, polled the most Brownlow votes including BOG for both the wins.
We did all right – all things considering.

Off field they are building a club – from the ground up. This will be a community club when the history books get beyond the initial scaffolding of the AFL hierarchy. I think they are doing a great job. My son started Auskick this year and the Giants were everywhere.
Callan Ward, Sauce Phillips and young Tim Seagrave came out to a Thursday night training session at St Clair and he learned goal kicking from Jonathan Patton and tackling from Tommy Bugg at a big night down at Blacktown. He played against the Wollondilly Redbacks at half time in the Adelaide game. It was a great job across the board and there are more kids coming from his class at school next year too.

It is going to take time – on and off the field – I can see that, even if the doubters and haters can’t.
All stories start somewhere and in the great big book of the AFL our chapter is now open. I’m really looking forward to watching it unfold from here.

* I’m not counting the 30 point loss to the Gold Coast, which stands as their club’s biggest all time win.

About steve duffy

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


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    If ever there was an example of “Winning isn’t everything ” The Giants are it . I have loved watching them this year because of the endeavour they have shown and despite the big losses they have some seriously good talent who are a treat to watch. They always have a go and are not intimidated by superior opponents. Can’t ask for more than that .Plus the club as a whole has embraced the fans and I love that too

  2. Peter Schumacher says

    I must say that you argued your case extremely well, Sydney could have two great sides in years to come.

  3. Barkly St End says

    Agree with Pamela and Peter – well made case – all the best to the Giants in the future.

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