GWS’s 10,000 member milestone not significant

Ben Somerford Roar Guru

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    Giants coach Kevin Sheedy and Israel Folau

    Giants coach Kevin Sheedy and Israel Folau take the stage during the Greater Western Sydney unveiling of its club name and colours at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney. Slattery Images

    I’m sure there were a few of our readers on The Roar who, along with me, would’ve received an email from the AFL’s newest franchise on Wednesday titled “GWS Giants hit 10,000 members”. My first reaction was, what an achievement for a club who’s never played an AFL game.

    I’m someone who likes to keep an eye on the AFL’s expansion efforts and recall the Gold Coast Suns reached the ‘magical’ 10,000 members figure around September last year, so the Giants would argue they’re ahead in that respect.

    That’s exactly the positive image GWS and the AFL want to get across, but I, dare I say like many others, was still sceptical about the email.

    It really grabbed my attention as I’ve had my doubts that Greater Western Sydney would even manage crowds of 10,000 once the hype dies down about their entrance into the AFL next year.

    So I simply had to investigate this email further.

    One burning question in my mind was, what exactly do you get from a GWS membership in 2011, when they don’t play their first AFL game until March next year?

    To be honest, you don’t get a lot.

    The membership package essentially consists of a GWS cap, bumper sticker, membership card, entry to North East Australian Football League games in 2011 and priority access to purchasing a membership in 2012.

    But then again, they don’t cost a lot. Fifty bucks to be precise.

    Giants chief executive Dale Holmes said in the press release: “To have 10,000 people already committing to the Giants and putting their hand up to say ‘I support the club’, that’s a great result.”

    I’m not sure $50 is a genuine commitment to the club, Dale, but it is something.

    Without wanting to spread innuendo, I’ve also been informed by some who signed up that family memberships were pretty liberally created when two memberships were purchased in order to boost the figures.

    Whatever the case, I want to make it clear I don’t think this whole process is about simply putting across a positive PR image. The AFL does expansion well, so there’s always something to learn from them.

    The idea that the $50 2011 membership would earn those who signed up priority access to a membership in 2012, with $50 off the price, is a smart initiative. It’s a way to convert those foundation members into real members attending AFL games in 2012. And that’s the real key for GWS.

    Fifty bucks isn’t a big commitment, despite what Holmes may say, so it’s easy for people with some interest to sign up. However, GWS will now aim to convert those genuine sign-ups into members and that’s the big challenge.

    Another interesting aspect of all this, is this email came out just days after a curious story in the Sydney Morning Herald about the AFL putting money into western Sydney councils to erect footy goalposts at local sporting ovals and making some venues Aussie Rules exclusive in the rugby and soccer heartland.

    According to the story, there’s one Aussie Rules oval for every 68 junior players in western Sydney. Staggering stuff.

    However, the point here is, the AFL has the financial might and will to really push to expand its game into western Sydney.

    GWS’s 10,000 membership milestone should be taken with a grain of salt, but the AFL will be doing its utmost to capitalise on any semblance of interest in the game in western Sydney.

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    The Crowd Says (195)

    • Roar Guru

      August 25th 2011 @ 6:40am
      mds1970 said | August 25th 2011 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      It’s a start. While a tally of 10,000 is modest compared to other AFL clubs, it’s one of many steps along the road.
      GWS Giants won’t take over from rugby league. I haven’t seen anything that suggests rugby league has been adversely affected in any way by the coming of the Giants. But the GWS area is a big place, and although it’s hardly AFL heartland, the Giants are putting in their best efforts to build support.
      The 10,000th member is no more significant than the 9,999th member or the 10,001st; other than a psychological milestone. But support is building ahead of the Giants’ entry to the AFL in 2012.

    • Roar Guru

      August 25th 2011 @ 7:08am
      The_Wookie said | August 25th 2011 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Heres the point.

      They’ve reached the target 2 months ahead of where Gold Coast were (GC did it in October last year). The Gold Coast went on to sign 14,064 full members in its inaugural season. Its a base to start from, and gives the elague a concrete idea of how the team is going in the leadup.

      • August 25th 2011 @ 9:53am
        voodoo people said | August 25th 2011 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        How many actually live in Sydney though? I have heard of a significant proportion live in Canberra and Melbourne.

        The proof is in the pudding, as the article above suggests.

    • August 25th 2011 @ 8:04am
      ChrisC said | August 25th 2011 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      It seems the AFL is having a ‘mid life crisis’. The League already had this during the Super League war, thinking the people of China wouldn’t go to bed until they knew the score between Illawarra and Manly.

      Very costly exercise for the AFL, we will see if it works!

      • Roar Guru

        August 25th 2011 @ 8:15am
        The Cattery said | August 25th 2011 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        I’m not sure if you can compare the current position of the AFL to the super league war, when it’s the AFL controlling its own destiny, charting its own way forward, implementing plans if first drew up and considered 20 years ago.

        • August 25th 2011 @ 12:08pm
          oikee said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          Really, did those plans include signing 2 league players. ?
          And these so-called plans, did they include the Pacific, or is it only now that rugby league has spent the last 30 years growing our pacific cousins into our game that AFL having missed the boat, is now trying to play catch up.

          To add to my point, the story about Tonga and AFL in the Pacific, ? I am sure you are lapping this up Cattery, like you lapp up most AFL stories, but the simple fact is that Rugby Union and Rugby League already have scouts in these islands, and to push home to you the extent of our Pacific push into the Islands since day dot, we have a womens world cup squad playing a game in Samoa this year, September i think it is, and the NRL already has Island nations set-ups here in Australia, why, because our polynesian game is that strong and connected that we have to do this with the influx of islanders into our game.

          Now, lets really look at your push into the Pacific, 2 league players peddling their trade, just to put it in perspective for you.
          Mind you, i am not knocking AFL and their pacific push, it will be good for your game, but mate, you really have missed this boat, around the World the Islanders are larger in number than in their own countries.
          The Polynesians in Australia are already into their first generation 18 year olds coming through mixed with indigernous and Polynesian backgrounds, i call them super beasts.
          You can see them trickling through in the lower rugby league grades on any given Sunday.

          Polynesian communities around the world include, NZ, Australia, Hawaii, California, Utah.
          Speaking of New Zealand, this is where alot of Polynesians reside. Just the other day at a under 16’s rugby league school comp, a quote by a NRL scout said he has never seen the likes of players this big before, most NRL clubs had scouts already their to sign kids on the dotted line.

          And it also asks you the Question, why has the AFL not taken the Polynesians in Melbourne if they were serious about the island players. ? Mate i watched a under 16’s Melbourne team the other day full of Victorian Poynesians kids, all man beasts.
          Back to you.

          • Roar Guru

            August 25th 2011 @ 12:29pm
            The Cattery said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            I congratulate you, but I’m not sure what any of what you said had to do with my last post.

            All I was saying is that planning for a second Sydney team goes back 20 years, it’s been on the AFL’s agenda the whole time.

        • August 25th 2011 @ 12:26pm
          ChrisC said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

          It is exactly the same, taking the game to the world and John Ribots ‘vision’. All sounds very similar to me.

    • August 25th 2011 @ 8:12am
      db swannie said | August 25th 2011 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      After reading about some of the memberships on other sites ,then you get a clearer picture…
      $50 a membership ,alot of them in Canb,alot of supporters from Melb clubs who bought one ,signing people up under $100 family memberships & counting them as singles.
      How many of these are going to actually go to a game…

    • Roar Guru

      August 25th 2011 @ 8:17am
      The Cattery said | August 25th 2011 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      I’m not really sure what anyone would have expected at this point, over seven months before the GWS plays its first AFL game in a city where the game isn’t as strong as it is elsewhere.

    • August 25th 2011 @ 8:33am
      Vic said | August 25th 2011 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      You NRL followers are like the climate change deniers. There is a lot of people that love Australia’s game who live in Sydney, it is Australia still afterall.

      If you think a town cannot start following a different code, just take a look at the great doco, ‘Broad Street Bullies’ on youtube. It is about the 1970s Philadelphia Flyers hockey team that was a new expansion team. Hockey until that team arrived was only a Canadian sport and played in a few northern US towns. Noone knew much about hockey in Philly. Anyhow, that team was successful and Philly is now a hockey town.

      Towns can change, particularly if the product is superior. We have a better game. It is more exciting, quicker, and skillful. And most of all, we will back it no matter the cost. We are HERE TO STAY!

      • August 25th 2011 @ 8:52am
        PG said | August 25th 2011 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Er I think you’ll find Philly is a NFL town — ever heard of the Eagles — the eagles fans are one of the most fanatic in America. Secondly Melbourne football is not our National game Cricket is

      • August 25th 2011 @ 9:21am
        Simmo said | August 25th 2011 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        NRL troll is obvious

      • August 25th 2011 @ 9:25am
        Boz said | August 25th 2011 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Vic, “Australia’s game” – Really? That sort of talk isn’t going to win you many friends where it counts.

        • August 25th 2011 @ 9:57am
          zach said | August 25th 2011 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          Invented by Australians, the number one code in four of the six states, with a big and longstanding presence in the other two- I think that qualifies as “Australian”, on any criteria.

          • August 25th 2011 @ 12:09pm
            Simmo said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

            keep it in church bro

          • August 25th 2011 @ 12:52pm
            mick h said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

            and 56% of the population live in nsw qld where afl is small.

        • August 25th 2011 @ 1:17pm
          Vic said | August 25th 2011 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          The game invented in Melbourne is Australia, not England. And it was part of the New South Wales colony way back then if that makes you feel better.

          Just because Sydney did not invent it, does not make it any less worthy to be played there.

          In 50 years from now the Giants will have around 50,000 season ticket holders. And look, I am sure NRL teams will also have large followings too. I know plenty of people in Melbourne who attend both Storm and their AFL games. A lot of corporate packages complement both sports.

          Another thing is the AFL influence on the Storm is obvious, they get the best training facilities in NRL, plus the best sport’s science. They are a pro sports franchise down to AFL showing them the way. Not this poker machine front business you get in Sydney. It is good for Sydney having a strong AFL there.

          • August 25th 2011 @ 1:36pm
            Dan said | August 25th 2011 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

            Im not sure the Storm example is a good one… I believe they are owned by news limited… and they pump money into it to keep them afloat… maybe rabbitohs is a better example I believe and dont quote me that they are trying to increase there membership and have referred to collingwoods model…

      • August 25th 2011 @ 9:26am
        Walt said | August 25th 2011 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Interesting you mention the Flyers – it looks like Izzy Folau is wearing their jumper…

        • August 25th 2011 @ 9:42am
          JVGO said | August 25th 2011 @ 9:42am | ! Report

          Well spotted Walt. He is the ultimate code jumper however, anything is possible, just for the challenge.

      • August 25th 2011 @ 10:01am
        Jay said | August 25th 2011 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        Vic – and what is the NHL’s track record on expansion?

        • August 25th 2011 @ 10:06am
          Vic said | August 25th 2011 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          Well, they had 6 sides back in 1967. And now they 30 teams as of the year 2011. So an extra 24 clubs.

          • August 25th 2011 @ 10:25am
            Kasey said | August 25th 2011 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            Your post shows the danger in looking purely at numbers without understading the context.

            Only the Dallas Stars of the Sunbelt teas could be considered a success. The Phoenix Coyotes (nee WPG Jets) are on life support in Glendale, AZ and the 2 x Florida Hockey teams will shortly be lining up to follow the ATL Thrashers( recently moved back to Manitoba to become the new Winnipeg Jets) back up to colder climates(Like Quebec city and maybe Seattle) where Hockey doesn’t come after NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAAFB, NCAAB, daylight, NASCAR and Soccer(if at all) in the sports pecking order. the Sunbelt teams (ie the quixotic chase for a bigtime US TV contract) will ultimately define Gary Bettman’s tenure as NHL commish as a failure IMO. For a small sport like Hockey, 30 teams is too much. there just isn’t the talent to fill 30 rosters and most hockey fans would be struggling to name their teams first shift, let alone their second line players. The dilution of talent has led to an increase in clutch and grab hockey, slowing down the game, increasing penalty minutes and reducing scoring. Hockey is a great sport, but she aint what she used to be. Expansion is done differently in the US of course. Multi-millionaire owners bid for an expansion franchise andthe fees paid are divied up between the current teams, so its no wonder the NHL has recklessly expanded from the Original 6 (which like the first 4 seasons of the HAL was getting a tad boring and expansion WAS needed) to the bloated 30 teams of today.

            • August 25th 2011 @ 12:09pm
              Simmo said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              The NHL Sunbelt teams are the ultimate round pegs in square holes for US professional sports.

            • August 25th 2011 @ 12:25pm
              oikee said | August 25th 2011 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

              Seems like Philly had nothing better to do, unlike Sydney which is our largest city, a rugby league giant and is making plans to shake off a ant on its foot.
              Aussie rules is a Victorian game, you aussie rules guys trying to tell us otherwise are wasting time and effort, like signing league players. How is that going, you should have learnt from union, nothing will stop the hulk.
              Maybe it is time to get with the international program, not the Victorian “i will tell you what to like” program.
              The codes have settled in nicely around Australia, league still has a bit to go, but apart from that we have mainly reached satuation point.
              People want more not less, so only following afl is like a backward step to most outside Victoria.

              You should be setting up shop in England, once you have the poms to beat we might get interested.
              You only have to look at Brisbanes attitude to different codes, we get to see big union games, soccer internationals, origins, and cricket against the poms.
              Plus we support these games in big numbers, its all good fun without the buff remarks you hear from down south. You guys really need to learn to chill, your like a bunch of tense puppies.
              Hey, did i tell you guys, 3×50 thousand crowds for the Bronx last 3 games, plus a Bledisloe final at Suncorp and a International Soccer match, see what happens when we all get along. 🙂

              • August 25th 2011 @ 1:40pm
                Vic said | August 25th 2011 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                “You should be setting up shop in England, once you have the poms to beat we might get interested.”

                Good to see the old cultural cringe going strong in harbour town. That is why you lot never became the nation’s capital and will never be it’s cultural capital because you only follow what the trend’s are and not make them.

                In 20 years from now, Melbourne will be the biggest city in Australia. Also Perth will overtake Brisbane as the 3rd city. So AFL towns will be the #1 and #3 tv markets in Oz then.

              • Roar Guru

                August 25th 2011 @ 2:16pm
                Jiggles said | August 25th 2011 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                ” Also Perth will overtake Brisbane as the 3rd city”

                The ABS doesn’t think so, but what would they know anyway…


              • August 25th 2011 @ 3:52pm
                Ken said | August 25th 2011 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                First Vic, oikee is in Brisbane – it’s not exactly a harbour town.
                Secondly, the brief blip where Melbourne was bigger than Sydney was just that – a blip caused by an extraordinary event that disappeared as quickly as it came – yes it happened to come just before Federation which meant that Canberra had to be created to solve the dispute. Sydney has been the biggest city for ~200 of the 223 years since settlement and basically the entire time since federation.
                Thirdly, the ABS has 3 different projections of the next 20 years (Series A/B/C) – only in 1 of those does Melbourne catch up to Sydney (Series B). In none of them does Perth overtake Brisbane (Brisbane is twice the size of Perth and will continue to be according to those projections).

                Of course, that all has very little to do with the topic at hand as far as I see it – which basically is that you can’t comprehend that your sport is foreign to half the country regardless of how much you parade it as ‘the Australian game’ etc, etc.

            • August 25th 2011 @ 1:29pm
              Vic said | August 25th 2011 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

              LA has two hockey teams now and that was pretty warm, even at Xmas time when I was last there. They seem to both sell loads of tickets and have pretty keen fans.

              Disagree about the talent over 30 teams to a point. Remember hockey is massive in the northern European nations, as big if not as big as soccer so there is loads of players out there.

              Probably the point is, there is a place for all games, they do not need to completely overtake a town. People who follow the Flyers also love the Eagles and Sixers. The hockey and hoops team shared the Spectrum for years.

              • August 25th 2011 @ 1:45pm
                Kasey said | August 25th 2011 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                I hope you’re not calling the naheim Ducks the 2nd LA team? Anahein is about as much a part of LA as Newcastle is a part of Sydney. Youre half way to the Wales Vagina by the time you hit Anaheim:)
                The Kings were on a touch and go basis until they signed the Great One from Edmontonin 88 giving LALa Land a Stanley Cup competitive team overnight. That I think gave the NHL hope that hockey could be played in warmer climates. Anaheim have and continue to be thought of as a gimmick team. But even someone who has never been there would realise that La is a totally different proposition to Phoenix(who struggle to draw anything remotely resembling a crowd), Nashville and Miami(a long time graveyard for professional sports teams – even the once mighty Dolphins are struggling to sell tickets these days. As any Canadian will tell you 15,000 passionate hockey fans packed into Winnipeg’s MTS centre is a whole lot better than 13,000 spead around a generic Mall Arena counting down the time until they can duck out to the concesions to get another Hotdog, or asking night after night justwhat he heck Icing is. The success of the new Jets(already sold out their Sason Tickets after a barren Jets-less 15years) I predict will spur either the Coyotes, the Panthers or the Preds to make haste to Quebec City to be reborn as les nouveaux Nordiques as soon as they can escape from their lease. NHL no has some revenue sharing, a soft salary cap and the Canadian Dollar is better than it was when both the Jets and the Nords moved south. All that’s needed is for the mighty Whalers to be reborn and the NHL wil be back to its zeitgeist glory days(you know when Kevin Smith thought enough of Hockey to put references into his hipster movies) I wonder when MLS will make a similar jump?

              • August 25th 2011 @ 11:07pm
                Vic said | August 25th 2011 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

                Anaheim is only about 30 minutes drive out of LA central. But of course in Sydney’s wonderful road network distances do seem much greater because you are constantly at a crawl.

                On the Jets, it is a great move to move them from Atlanta. A lot of the problems in US sport is related to the GFC, the money has dried up and Canada being similar in ways to Oz is a better proposition. Problem with the Jets is, it costs heaps for season tickets. A couple of 1000 a season. What happens after year 5, when the gimmick has dried up and they are just an average club. Will they still pack them in? They have been here before.

                In anycase, my original point is. If you can get people in a non ice hockey town to follow a foreigners game then AFL has nowhere near that hurdle to face in Sydney or Qld. It is another field sport, simpler and more fun to play than the two rugby codes so over time, it will become as much a part of the fabric of west Sydney as falafels have become.

          • August 25th 2011 @ 10:53am
            Ben of Sydney said | August 25th 2011 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            Carolina average 6,000 households per game in hometown TV ratings.

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