GWS on same track as early Power?

For the last two years the Greater Western Sydney Giants have been pumped up to make that final leap into the Grand Final and take home football’s Holy Grail. Both years they’ve failed to the ‘fairytale’ sides looking to break not only long Premiership droughts, but Grand Final droughts. In 2016 the Western Bulldogs, who’d go on to break a 62 year premiership drought, and in 2017 Richmond whose premiership fate remains unknown.

It took the Giants five seasons to make their first finals campaign and Preliminary Final. They backed that up in their sixth season with another Preliminary Final appearance, but were left disappointed. Whilst making back to back top four and Preliminary Finals appearances is no easy feat, they were expected to win thePremiership this season. They were the expectations of not just their fans and the AFL community, but their own.

Captain Callan Ward stated being premiership favourites was a compliment that people think they’re good enough to win the Premiership.

What’s remarkable is the almost identical rise GWS has had to Port Adelaide when they were first incepted into the AFL in 1997.

Port Adelaide’s first four seasons were rather lean, like the Giants – although the Power made the finals in only their third season finishing seventh. In their fifth season in 2001 Port Adelaide finished third – the Giants finished fourth – and went out in straight sets after an unexpected semi-final loss to Hawthorn in Adelaide. In Port Adelaide’s sixth season in 2002 they finished first on the ladder, living up to early hype, but failed in the finals series. Determined to not repeat their straight sets exit the year before Port Adelaide got off to a disappointing start losing to Collingwood in the Qualifying Final who’d become a new nemesis. Port then took their first AFL Finals victory against Essendon in the semi final, and went on to lose the Preliminary final away to Brisbane by 56 points.

Whilst there is a noticeable difference between the two sides’s early histories, namely Port  Adelaide’s third season final series and straight sets knockout in their fifth season, the trajectory of the sides have been eerily similar. As has been the trajectory and early failures of Gold Coast and Fremantle. It took Fremantle nine seasons to make the finals, and twelve seasons to win a final. Gold Coast is currently seven seasons into its AFL life and is yet to make the finals.

As we know Port Adelaide would go on to finish first on the ladder for their next two seasons. In the 2003 Finals Series they’d yet again taste disappointment losing a preliminary final at the MCG to Collingwood. In the 2004 Finals Series Port Adelaide would finally realise their expectation and potential, winning their way to their first AFL Grand Final after a narrow Preliminary Final win over St. Kilda in Adelaide which is still regarded as one of the greatest Preliminary Finals ever. The Grand Final was fiery with fights breaking out multiple times during the match. Brisbane were looking to be the first side since Collingwood from 1927-1930 to win four premierships in a row, but Port Adelaide would run away with the match in the second half winning their first, and to date, only AFL Premiership.

If the trajectories between the two teams were to continue then Giants fans may have to face more disappointment in the 2018 season, but finally get their chance in the sun in 2019. As we know, all this is hypothetical and there’s no real connection or reason for why the two most recent expansion teams have followed similar paths as the two before them. The questions are: Is this the Giant’s time to win a premiership? Yes. Will the expectation remain? Yes. Will they continue to learn from their disappointment? Yes. Whilst premierships are never a guarantee, it’s a safe bet to say the Giants may continue to follow the trajectory of Port Adelaide and take home a flag over the next three seasons.

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