Round 19 – Greater Western Sydney v Richmond: A Giant dilemma

It’s hard work barracking for Richmond, but I’ve done so since my great-grandmother steered me towards the yellow and black when I was a kid. I know all too well that pre-season hopes of glory are inevitably dashed by on-field failure. After the Great Richmond Disappointment of 2015 (also known as the Round 4 loss to Melbourne), I took the only sensible course of action available to me: a Facebook post proclaiming that I now supported the GWS Giants – the AFL’s newest club, a club with a future.

 

Not being one to limit my life decisions to the confines of Facebook, I became a paid-up member of the Giants the following day. I had a couple of listens to the club song and set off to the Northcote Pool to commit the words to memory. Thirty laps later I had the words down pat and even got the hang of the tricky bit at the start. I was now a Giants supporter.

 

Four rounds into season 2015, the Giants had three wins and one loss, a respectable start to the season, but not enough to rouse the interest of the Melbourne-based football media. I watched the next couple of Giants games on TV (a disappointing loss to West Coast and a magnificent win over Hawthorn) and then set off to Etihad Stadium to see the Giants beat Carlton. I had somehow become privy to a big secret. These Giants were good, seriously good. I was hooked.

 

Fast forward to this year and I had no hesitation renewing my Giants membership. Much to the bemusement of friends and family, I now support two clubs and today is the inevitable test of my loyalties as I watch the Tigers take on the Giants from my Melbourne lounge room. Today I’m wearing my Giants beanie.

 

When the game began, the Richmond players took up their positions as training cones on Manuka Oval. A quick goal to Callan Ward was followed by a goal to Dylan Shiel and the floodgates opened. In just one superb quarter of football the Giants kicked eight goals three to the Tigers’ one behind. The Giants were well on their way to their first win over Richmond and payback for the 2014 thrashing at Spotless Stadium (which has been my one and only road trip to the Giants’ heartland).

 

During the second quarter, the Tigers put up a little more resistance but the Giants played with skill and poise that seemingly gives them the time and space to hit targets and move the ball at will. The third quarter was quieter, with both sides adding two goals two and Rory Lobb leaving the field with an ankle injury. But this was just the calm before the storm of the fourth quarter when the Giants again hit the accelerator and – as a percentage booster for the team that already boasts the best percentage in the competition – added a further 26 points to their score while conceding just one point. If not for the efforts of Alex Rance and Dustin Martin, Richmond would have been beaten by much more than 88 points.

 

Stephen Coniglio, Tom Scully, Heath Shaw and Dylan Shiel had plenty of the ball, but the statistics for number of disposals hide the fact that the Giants play as a team rather than a group of individuals competing for the ball among themselves as well as against the opposition. Everywhere on the field Giants players run hard, either streaming forward to support each other and provide a target, or getting back to put defensive pressure on opposition forwards. Individual statistics seem secondary to team success, but I did love that Sam Reid kicked three goals in the fairy tale resurrection of his AFL career.

 

While I’m saddened by the capitulation of Richmond during season 2016, I’m fed up with their excuses and empty promises. The Giants are impressive on and off the field and I’m excited as they head towards their first finals appearance and the real possibility of a top-two finish.

 

 

GWS                             8.3       11.5       13.7       17.9      (111)

Richmond                     0.1         1.2         3.4         3.5        (23)

 

Goals

GWS: Johnson 3, Greene 3, Reid 3, Cameron 2, Scully 2, Kennedy, Shiel, Smith, Ward

Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Lloyd

 

Best

GWS: Coniglio, Scully, Shaw, Shiel, Williams, Mumford

Richmond: Rance, Martin

 

Crowd: 14,974

Our votes: Coniglio (3), Scully (2), Shaw (1)

About Gill

As a youngster, Gill thought that frequent Richmond premierships were assured, but in the many years since 1980 she realised her folly and distracted herself by crunching numbers at a university. The magnificence of the Tigers’ 2017 season has restored her faith in Richmond and all of humanity.

Comments

  1. jan courtin says:

    The Ed said this was sure to generate comment, so let me be the first.

    If I were a Richmond supporter I wouldn’t bother wasting my breathe, or hand muscles, to make a comment, but as a supporter of another Club, I will. I am not impressed.

    Richmond, in its glorious history, has won 10 premierships – many more than most of us – and is currently up and down in its performances. So what?!! Every team has its fine days and not so fine days – and years – and even decades (such as South/Sydney) – but true supporters stick by their team, no matter what.

    Loyalty is paramount and so important to any Club, and jumping ship just for the sake of instant gratification is deplorable!

  2. Hi Jan, I get a very similar response from people in real life, and years ago I might have felt the same.

    But why is it so ingrained that we cannot change football clubs or support more than one club? People changed clubs when South Melbourne was sent to Sydney or when Fitzroy was absorbed by Brisbane. People change clubs or adopt a second club when they move interstate. These changes are all culturally acceptable, but changing clubs on a whim isn’t. It’s more acceptable to change jobs or change spouses – both are big life decisions that are far more important than supporting a football club – than it is to change football clubs.

    My initial motivation for supporting the Giants was an inglorious Facebook tantrum, and maybe last year I felt like a bit like an impostor rather than a supporter. But this year, I do consider myself a true Giants supporter. I haven’t abandoned Richmond (and probably never will), but I do now have two teams. Seeing the Giants improve from the game I saw them play live in 2014 to today has brought me great enjoyment, and that’s what I want when choosing to spend my spare time and money.

  3. Gill, I am definitely one of those supporters who developed affection for another team. Living in Brisbane I thought the early Bears were a disaster and had no affection for them – other than because it was great to have their opponents play in Queensland. However once the team came to the Gabba, and the powers that be realised the importance of that move and the club started to build and the clubs and the fans grew with the maturing of a group of outstanding young players, you had to love them. Voss, J. Brown, Lappin, Black, Leppa, Aker, Luke Power, A. Lynch, Crackers, the Scotts they became yours. You felt you knew them. You wanted the best for them. My affection for the Lions was a positive decision. I still loved the mighty Cats.

    I think the complication in the Richmond context is the nature of the club and the degree to which fans have felt let down and even ill-treated – over 30 years. It is a fascinating club. Erratic. Emotional. I watch from afar but I do take an interest in their performance, and I do hear what they have to say, and the message the club sends via its own communication with the public. I try to make sense of that. In recent years those communications have made sense from board and executive level. But, on the use of language alone, were I to try to analyse some of what the coach says I am left a little bemused and confused. I think the post-match on Saturday was intriguing. What I learnt is that GWS is a sensational side. Had I been sitting in that room I’d have asked the Richmond coach about his Richmond side “Why is your side 15 goals worse than GWS?”

  4. To clarify, not an inferior side, but a side which is 15 goals worse. The margin is the point.

  5. jan courtin says:

    Hi Gill
    Thanks for replying to my “straight from the heart” response to your article.

    Totally agree that change of partners and jobs are important and accepted aspects of life’s journey. Indeed, I’ve been involved in both! And, like John said, I too went to all the Brisbane Bears and then Lions games when living in Brissie for 22 years. I went because I love footy and was missing being able to go to the South/Sydney games, but there was absolutely no REAL emotional involvement when it came to the passion one has for one’s own footy team. That is there for life!

    People often talk of their “second” team, but I, personally, can’t really comprehend how that works.

    And, I simply just can’t understand how people can change clubs, even though I can accept their decision to do so. I also wonder whether you would have chosen the Giants had they not been playing well and in a position to win a flag so early in their extremely short history, to perhaps compensate for Richmond’s lack of recent success.

    It will be interesting to see what will happen when the yellow and black start improving and making finals consistently, and then the Big Ones! All speculation of course at this stage, but I do wonder where your Giants will stand in your affections if and when that happens.

    Good luck in supporting your team of choice.
    Jan

  6. I never feel that Hardwick is being honest in his press conferences. Fans aren’t stupid and know when they’re being taken for a ride. Why insult our intelligence?

    Leon Cameron seems genuine in his press conferences and sends a meaningful message to supporters.

  7. Jamie Mason says:

    Good luck with it all Gill, I think the Tigs will manage without you.

  8. Hi Jan

    The Giants had only won a handful of games when I chose them last year and I had no idea what was to come. Essendon was previously my second team (half the family supports them) but after the fall out from the drugs scandal, they didn’t deserve my attention so I looked further afield.

    I chose the Giants because my nephew and I were sitting dejectedly at the MCG looking up club membership numbers on my phone. At that stage the Giants had fewer than 10,000 members and I thought they might appreciate the support.

    We’ll see what happens as the fortunes of both clubs change with time. I’m comfortable supporting two teams and I’m also happy to go and see other teams play live just to see a good game of footy.

  9. I suppose a question worth asking when addressing this topic is ‘what meanings are important to me’? Why do I follow football? I continue to follow Geelong because I love the club and family and footy memories are entwined – as I tried to explain in Loose Men Everywhere.

    I also like drinking beer o the terrace at KP with J. Dunne, P. Flynn and Dips O’Donnell.

  10. Rick Kane says:

    Hi Gill

    Team loyalty is a fascinating subject that I think is considered more so through emotional goggles than anything else. I reckon barrack for whoever you want. My dad barracked for Essendon, my mum for Geelong. My elder brother was a Tiges man but when the Eagles came on board (we’re from Perth) he switched. I barrack for the Hawks. When we came close to merging with Melbourne in the mid 90s it wasn’t the end of the world for me. I don’t think you have to justify who you barrack for to anyone but yourself. And if you’ve given the Tiges a big part of your life but now you want to try another team then go for it. Players move on all the time.

    Cheers

    And yes, the Hawks are nervous about GWS.

  11. Gill, follow your hunches. I spent 30 years barracking for a team but broke the nexus. U still have a soft spot for the side, but barracking for team I snot about a religious type of blind loyalty ; my side , right or wrong.

    The AFL is an enormous corporation. Follow who you want for a reason that suits you. Blind support of a corporate sporting entity I snot something i’d recommend. Barrack who you enjoy watching Gill. Follow your hunches.

    Glen!

  12. jan courtin says:

    Me again!
    No-one is suggesting we can’t barrack for whatever team we want Rick. That’s what we all do.
    What’s wrong with emotional goggles? Love of all sorts is via those very same goggles.
    Jan

  13. Stainless says:

    Gill
    I’ve commented many times on the essential absurdity of supporting a footy team, so far be it from me to criticise your choice. But if you’re as hell-bent on following success as you seem to be, why not simply follow each Premiership team retrospectively and do away with any risk of disappointment.
    Like you, I’m finding Richmond’s season a tough one to endure and if I hear Damian Hardwick say once more, in response to yet another loss, “we’re working on a few things”, I’ll put a fist through my TV screen. However, I am not going to use this as an excuse to convert to a heavily subsidised marketing construct established to entertain the heathen of Punchbowl and Mt Druitt and which, if it doesn’t manage to retain the talent that has been so carefully directed its way, will quickly become a mirror to the rest of western Sydney’s anonymous dreariness.

  14. Earl O'Neill says:

    Hey Gill
    I was a Swans member for years, was at the ’05 GF, but jumped ship when the Monaros came along. Many reasons but I grew up in the suburbs and I wanted to watch a young, developing team. Swans are def my second team, I’ll cheer them anytime except when they play Monaros.
    It’s been a pleasant surprise to watch them become so good quite quickly. We’re the only Contender to have troubled Hawthorn.
    I’ve a few Richmond mates. We watched them lose to Carlton in the Elim a few years back and I’ve never seen anyone so devastated as Steve was that day. Tiger Army walk a tough road. Now you can enjoy whatever good times may come their way but not slit your wrists over it.
    Isn’t it brilliant watching the Orange Tide surge?
    Cheers
    Earl

  15. Nic McGay says:

    Gill, good on you. Barrack for who the hell you want to, whenever you want to, and for as many teams as you want to.

    On a related note, I am a West Coast fan, my son goes for the Bulldogs, and I am constantly staggered by people who recoil in horror when they learn that my son follows a different team than I. In fact, I probably watch more Bulldogs than Eagles game these days, mainly for the enjoyment of watching alongside the young fella.

    I get the whole rusted-on, bleed (insert team colour/s here), but it’s not the only model for following AFL.

  16. Alistair Watson says:

    Jake Niall, now of Fox Footy but formerly of the former Melbourne broadsheet, possibly had the last (tongue in cheek?) word on club loyalty when he observed that it persists strongly even though playing personnel changes frequently. He claimed that there was solid research based on much longer experience of player transfers in the big team sports of the northern hemisphere. He said club loyalty was essentially about deep-seated and unconscious attitudes to club uniforms and regalia, akin to notions of conscious and unconscious memory as revealed in the writings of Marcel Proust. [I am not making this up.]

  17. Interesting responses here. i was expecting more outrage, but the support is heartening.

    I signed up with the Giants in Round 4 when they’d won three games. i wasn’t chasing success. I didn’t know anything about the Giants and I had no idea of the improvement that was to come, especially given that the Giants had won only six games the previous year.

    I could easily have watched a few games and then moved onto whatever passing fancy captured my imagination next. But that didn’t happen. I really liked what i saw of the club on and off the field. As Earl says above, it’s really interesting to see a young club develop and I wonder whether Richmond might be too hamstrung by tradition and “The Richmond Way” to succeed. The Giants have the freedom to build their club from scratch.

  18. Stainless says:

    Gill.
    After just giving you a bake, I’ll concede that your motivations are OK. As a long-term Richmond supporter, I will also confess that there have been plenty of times (usually in September) when I’ve briefly adopted a second team. E.g. anyone playing Carlton, the ’93 Bombers, the Saints and Dogs in ’97, Sydney in 2005 and 2006, Saints in 2010 and, this year, probably anyone other than Hawthorn. I’ve admired and enjoyed particular teams and playing groups, but I’d never adopt a second team permanently.

    I think your last point is spot on but it doesn’t just apply to Richmond. All the new non-Victorian clubs with the exception of Fremantle won a flag within 10 years of their establishment and I think the absence of history and the pressure of expectation has been a huge factor in that. Aside from Richmond, the recent near misses by St Kilda, the Bulldogs and Melbourne highlight just how hard it is for these clubs to grab those elusive chances when they present. GWS may have an early hiccup or two due to finals inexperience, but I’d see no such pressures impeding them in the next few years. So good luck to them.

    But given that the game’s success is built around the long-term loyalty of fans, I find it irksome that these clubs experience such instant success, especially it has been artificially accelerated by concessions to these teams that have penalised established clubs. Just another example of how thoroughly uneven this competition is.

  19. JTH, it’s all part of the plan. we plummet to 14th by being 15 goals worse than everyone for the rest of the year. we invest pick 5 or whatever in a skinny kid who is a cracking cross country runner. then we don’t pick him. we draft heath grundy in and make him captain, for two second rounders and a photoshoot with dusty. Michael Barlow as vice-captain.

    we promote Chaplin to senior coach. because he is a good football brain. he certainly spent most of his time at Richmond telling others to do what he said, not did. he is unbeaten as a senior coach.

    we decide we were cursed by Johnny Warren’s witchdoctor so Benny gale gets a job at AusAid and secretly hunts for said doctor. When he finds him, we trade our future second and third round picks for him.

    He convinces us to change our name. Our song. Our colours. We go to ASIC and see that “HawthornFC” has never been registered as a brandname. So we call ourselves Hawthorn. Overnight, people flock to us. We win Premiership after Premiership. Ray Hall is made Club president. jake King gets a permanent gig on “Couch”. Gale is by now rightful Leader of the Opposition and promises Peggy the GG job if he wins.

    People hate us. We are Hawthorn.

    Damned; no matter.

  20. Tony robb says:

    Carlton and Giants member. The former for life. The latter as Canberra’s team. Both giving me lots to cheer about.

  21. Michael Shillito says:

    I am another who has tasted the forbidden fruit of changing allegiances.
    Previously I supported Essendon, but have lived in Sydney for over 25 years. I was at the MCG, perched high in the very back row of the old Ponsford Stand, as Hirdy’s invincibles completed the near-perfect season in 2000.
    But trips to Melbourne weren’t that common and I only actually saw my team play a handful of times each season.

    When it was announced that a new team was starting up in my neck of the woods, I was interested. When Kevin Sheedy was announced as coach, I was very interested. And when the club was launched, with the Giants name and colours, I was the first Foundation Member to sign up.
    I was signing up for a club I knew would struggle to be competitive in the early years. I knew I was changing from a club that played in ftont of 90,000 on blockbuster games to one which would struggle to draw 10% of that. Goimg from Easy Street to Struggle Street.
    But Easy Street is a long way away. And if this GWS venture was going to work, they needed start-up supporters. Here was a chance to make a difference; to playy part in growing the game I love in the city I love.

    Best thing I did. I joined the Orange Army and you’ll see me on game day behind the goals making noise for the Giants.
    And I’m doing as many Victorian trips as I ever did. But now it’s as an away supporter.
    In the early years we were flogged often and rarely won. But we believed. And now the belief is being fulfilled. The young kids are growing to become Giants.
    My Essendon past is a distant memory. Now I’m a Giant.
    Disloyal turncoat? Who cares! Best thing I ever did.

  22. Its all fine Gill.
    Pre AFL I followed Sturt in SANFL and Carlton in VFL.
    Moved to Brisbane and started following bears/lions. Have a soft spot for the Crows. I still kinda like Carlton. Suffering with the Lions at the moment.
    My weakness is that I enjoy the underdog suddenly playing some exciting footy with players Ive never heard of: St Kilda, Giants, Bulldogs.
    I really don’t know who to follow. Maybe Ill just fly down to Adelaide once a fortnight to watch the blue boys at Unley.

  23. kath presdee says:

    Gill – welcome to the Giants family.

    And that’s how I think of it – a family.

    You may be born into it; marry into it; wander into it and no one has the heart to turn you away.

    You might have ties to another family; but it doesn’t matter as far as we’re concerned. Many of the Giants family support another team.

    And you qualify has having signed up before the bandwagon’s designs were being drawn up; so I won’t have a word said against you. (Glares at others)

  24. Interesting seeing all the stories of reasons for changing teams (or steadfastly refusing to). We’re all just trying to enjoy watching footy in our own way. A part of me wishes that, like Michael, i had paid more attention to the Giants from the beginning. I’m fascinated by the development of a club and its culture from the ground up. From what I’ve seen over the past couple of years, I’m really impressed with the Giants.

  25. the only challenge I can imagine would be if there was a Tassie team. even though I haven’t lived there since 67.

    Richmond moving to Tassie, and having a yellow sash on a bottle green strip, I might think I had died and gone to heaven. like the Tassie Tigers.

  26. Since moving to the Bellarine Peninsula about 20 years ago I have a much stronger affiliation with Geelong FC. Seeing the whole town go off in 2007 after all the disappointments was remarkable. I went to all the celebrations even though I don’t barrack for the cats.

  27. E.regnans says:

    G’day Gill – you’ve hit a vein here.
    We all barrack for own reasons, I guess. Making meaning where we can.
    Family, geography, history…
    My passion for any one club has drifted with the years, given the nature of the AFL. But I still have all three reasons to support Collingwood (family, geography, history).

    A mate of mine jumped from Collingwood when Eddie McGuire became president. (1999?)
    He couldn’t abide that. He lived in a small flat in Kensington at the time, and has supported the Dogs ever since. Fair enough. Good on him.
    We only answer to ourselves, in the end.
    Go Tigers. Go Giants. Go Dogs. Go Pies.

  28. Most of these stories of changing allegiances go largely untold. When people are asked who they barrack for, the answer hides the journey.

    My grandma grew up a Tiger, switched to Essendon when she got married and then switched to Geelong when she moved to Torquay.

    I’d abandon a club too if Eddie became president.

  29. Gill as far as I am concerned good on you its every individuals decision there is not a right or wrong and your following and supporting clubs and footy in general well played

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