I heart GWS

Most people love a battler.

Battling teams usually become everyone’s second favourites.

Think Footscray. They battle along. Everybody wants them to win the Grand Final – even when Terry Wallace was coach.

For that reason my new second favourite side is the Giants. They remind me of the Bad News Bears. Not for the ridiculous jumper or for the edict from above to never drop Izzy/Capper, but because they’re a new team in an Aussie Rules wasteland. They are up against it.

For all the money apparently spent on the club – $250 million scream the headlines – it still doesn’t have a permanent training ground, forced to wander from oval to oval in pre-season, much like the Bears did. Demetriou tells all and sundry he wants exclusive summer use to their oval and is told he’s a long way from home.

They have a mixture of home grounds too, and for all the hype about the new multi-million dollar stadium in the Olympic precinct they can’t get on there until after the Sydney Easter Show because the cattle parade has first dibs!

I think that’s going to work for them. I would much rather head to the Blacktown International Sports Park (great name) where they played the Eagles. Did you see those grassed terraces? Who wouldn’t want to loll about on those on a nice day? Plenty of space in the crowd to have a kick and it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re allowed to jump the fence and listen to the quarter time address.

Then there’s Canberra for four matches a year – another ground with plenty of space, reminiscent of the former VFL grounds. I bet there’s no problem having a kick after the siren there.

So the Giants are doing it tough off the field and on it – much like the Bears.

Unlike the Bears, the team is full of young kids from footy states living the dream of playing at the top level; not full of old hacks topping up their super.

The old blokes they do have in James McDonald and Luke Power are some of the most likeable in the league, keen on proving super coaches like Michael Voss and Dean Bailey that they probably cut them a little early. And Chad Cornes seems a much better bloke now he’s not playing for Port.

The enthusiasm of these kids is helping the team slowly build support from all points of the country.

Jeremy Cameron – an exquisitely skilled forward who can actually kick straight– has put the Giants on the map in South West Victoria. The local shop in Dartmoor – in between Heywood and Mt Gambier, population 218 – has become a GWS outpost, furnished not with the blue and white of the Cats, or the blue, red and gold of the Crows, but orange and charcoal.

I wish now I was cheering for them against Carlton at Docklands last weekend, sitting among the 50 family and friends of Giants midfielder Toby Greene, one of 12 Victorian kids in the team that day.

”When we ran out I thought, ‘we’re in a bit of trouble here’, I didn’t see any orange,” Greene told The Age. ”But then I heard dad, he didn’t shut up. He was that guy yelling the whole time.”

They got done by 10 goals and the Giants supporters had a terrific time. That’s the thing about following a team of kids enjoying their footy – they have a crack. It’s like the young Geelong side of 2002-2003 – they’d win maybe seven games a year but it wasn’t through lack of trying. They gave their supporters a lot to cheer for.

That’s why Melbourne and Port Adelaide supporters don’t cheer much.

The Giants are having a crack against the odds. I want them to succeed as a result. So I’m on board. Will anybody join me?

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety


  1. Cookie – the concept of a second favourite team baffles me – I hate ’em all.

  2. cptFantasy says

    I’m on board too! They’re my third team, behind the Pies and the Suns now that Ro$$ has made the Dockers evil!

  3. pamela sherpa says

    I think the Suns and Giants have been a breathe of fresh air for the competition.. It’s fantastic that AFL games are being played in every state and territory.

    For people in the northern states, following the new teams is about following the code- as a whole.

    I don’t mind the Giants jumper at all . I think it looks terrific on the players.

    I’m really enjoying following and supporting the new kids on the block. They are having a real crack and it’s exciting to be part of the journey.

  4. Stephen Cooke says

    Beaut win. I’m putting 26 on my (imaginary) Giants jumper. That Giles is a beauty.

  5. pamela sherpa says

    It was a beaut day Stephen.

  6. Richard Naco says

    I’ve just got back from the single most amazing day I’ve ever experienced at any game of footy anywhere – this one at Manuka, and a fair slab of which was spent utterly jubilant along with our wondrous Pamela – via a sleepover at my brother’s place in Ngunnawal after the post game celebrations tired out my driver too much, and a detour to enjoy/ lay on a Mother’s Day lunch at my in-laws’.

    GWS is really something very special, and those of you who have not got involved in this innovative and visionary club – and this is definitely a footy club and not a brand, organisation or commercial enterprise – are without a shadow of a doubt missing out on a very different but incredibly fulfilling footy experience. This from a former cynic with all the best intentions (such as pave the road to hell … or the NRL) but a very blinkered & traditional vision of how a footy club should be be seen to run.

    My throat is shot to the point where I actually literally can’t speak, and I am getting a tad teary reliving the final quarter and subsequent exlosions of unremitting joy on the net. All to my own considerable surprise that this great day should prove so incredibly moving. I am sitting here in an eye assault orange shirt & my GWS club scarf, and I still find myself occasionally shaking my head with incredulity after one very fine day in Canberra. And yes, I knew the words to the song!

    More to type a bit later after I return to something remotely resembling normality..


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