The View From GWS

So according to the pundits, purists and punters, the GWS Giants are little hope of making an impression this year. They won’t win and they won’t conquer the League-loving locals. It all sounds a bit bleak for the fledgling team in Sydney’s deepest, darkest west.

I live in Sydney’s west and it all looks a bit different to me. True the Giants are not setting the whole area alight but there is interest and it will only grow with familiarity.

I first signed on to the Giant experiment a year ago when Sheeds and his boys (literally boys) ran out in front of a few thousand slightly amused AFL fans out at Blacktown for a NAB cup game. It was like a local fete with footy in the middle. I took a picnic lunch and folding chairs, and sat on the grassy hill in the sunshine with my family and a couple of others. The footy was average but exciting by virtue of the promise it held in years to come. Not just the players, but more fundamentally it was the fact of a team that western Sydney could call its own that was most exciting.

Now one year on, I was back on the hill at Blacktown and the boys (they are still mostly boys) worked hard against a far superior Eagles side. A neutral observer wouldn’t have found much joy that day but the crowd in orange were having a great time. It was like watching your own kids play footy.

I found myself completely uninterested in the score and just enjoying every passage of play that gave a foretaste of future glory days. A great mark. A strong tackle. A second effort. A third. The crowd applauded them all and enjoyed them for what they were.

And there was Izzy Folau.

Make no mistake, this crowd loves him. He may have scrapped 2 touches but every time the ball went close the excitement level ramped up a notch. We in Western Sydney are looking forward to watching his journey to elite footballer. And he will get there.

Away from the park and out at Penrith you would struggle to find a Giants shirt on any of the passers by. League is undisputed king and I expect it always will be. However there are little shoots of AFL which will grow and multiply. Down at the expanding kids AFL clubs in the area, where once upon a time most kids would say they were Swans fans, there are increasingly younger kids who will say they are Giants fans. This is the cohort that will inherit the Giants and make them the club they will be. They are it’s future history.

It is a rare and exciting thing to watch the birth of a club. Some may scoff, but there is a lot to love about living in Greater Western Sydney. And the Giants are on the list.

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