He’s an ideas man, Sheeds

Vince Rugari Columnist

By Vince Rugari, Vince Rugari is a Roar Expert

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147 Have your say

    Kevin Sheedy is an ideas man. That’s why everyone calls him the Ideas Man. He has lots of ideas.

    Kevin might just be a humble football coach, but we all know him as the face of Greater Western Sydney and one of the best salesmen the AFL has to offer.

    He’s come up with heaps of ideas on how to change football for the better. First it was Anzac Day football. He thought of that when he was pottering his garden. Then it was Dreamtime at the ‘G.

    OK, he’s not quite the AFL’s Steve Kerrigan (of The Castle fame, and if you haven’t seen Australia’s greatest comedy movie ever – go, now) but every now and then Sheedy comes up with a crackerjack idea.

    Just before the new year, he struck again – he wants matches between Sydney and the Giants to be called ‘The Battle of the Bridge’.

    “It’s about east versus west,” Sheedy says. “There’s the Harbour Bridge, which takes in the north and the southeast of Sydney, whose people are mainly Swans fans, and then there’s the Anzac Bridge out west.”

    Now, his declaration that it will become the greatest rivalry in Australian sport was laughable – typical Victorian hubris – but he actually was onto something. Surely the AFL must run with it.

    At the very least, it’s a starting point; the seeds for a brilliant derby. The divide between the west and the rest presents an opportunity to capitalize on the real divide between the middle and working classes.

    Look to rugby league – the ‘enemy’ – and Western Suburbs and Manly have enjoyed a similar ideological and sporting rivalry, which began in the 1970s.

    Their story is told in the brilliant ABC documentary, ‘The Fibros and the Silvertails’, the title of which comes from a quip by then-Wests coach Roy Masters, who used it to describe the ongoing struggle between the working class and the elite in sport.

    Over time, the Sydney Swans have come to represent the northern and eastern parts of Sydney – the elite – while GWS have been brought in to serve a perceived need as the blue-collar club of the west.

    Now we’re still without conclusive proof that GWS will succeed to the degree Sheedy expects them to but it’s not getting ahead of schedule if the AFL is thinking about derbies.

    As the A-League has shown with the Heart/Victory clash, crosstown rivalries are a buzz machine.

    Elsewhere in the AFL, there are great examples. The ‘Showdown’ in South Australia takes advantage of the decades-old hatred for Port Adelaide in the SANFL, while the Western Derby has come into its own in recent years.

    They can also learn plenty from the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns, whose fledgling rivalry hasn’t taken off as well as the AFL might have liked.

    Appallingly dubbed the ‘Q-Clash’ (or Queensland Clash), the name itself was met with widespread derision. Local media refused to run with it, openly mocking it and opting for ‘Sunshine Stoush’ instead.

    The last ‘Q-Clash’ fizzled out into nothingness, despite a captivating – though entirely stage-managed – build-up before their first match, which centered around Simon Black calling some of his former Lions teammates ‘mercenaries’ after they switched to the Suns.

    It will grow, but perhaps the AFL overestimated the level of animosity between residents of the Gold Coast and Brisbane. It’s tame at best, and it’s got zero on the other rivalries in the league.

    Nothing beats class warfare. Just look at Milan’s soccer teams. It’s still an uphill battle, but at least the Swans and the Giants have something to work with, thanks the ‘Battle of the Bridge’. He’s an ideas man, Sheeds.

    But the Q-Clash? Tell ’em they’re dreaming.

    The Roar welcomes Vince Rugari as an AFL expert columnist to the site – we hope you enjoy his contributions.

    Vince Rugari
    Vince Rugari

    Vince Rugari is an Adelaide-born journalist who cut his teeth on the sporting graveyard of the Gold Coast. He fancies the round ball and the Sherrin, and used to be a handy leg-spin bowler before injury curtailed a baggy green push. A Port Adelaide fan by birth, he now is a sports reporter for Australian Associate Press

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    The Crowd Says (147)

    • January 10th 2012 @ 7:12am
      betamax said | January 10th 2012 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      Am I the only one who thinks you can’t manufacture this kind of rivalry?

      • January 10th 2012 @ 8:44am
        Lucan said | January 10th 2012 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        You’re certainly not alone.

        The “Derby” and the “Showdown” weren’t even inventions of the AFL or the clubs. Those names came organically and were pushed by the local media. The AFL jumped on what people were already calling it.

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2012 @ 9:06am
          The Cattery said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          No betamax, you are not alone, as Lucan suggests, it must be organic.

          It’s a bit like the ground announcer trying to hype up a crowd – never works.

          • Columnist

            January 10th 2012 @ 12:17pm
            Vince Rugari said | January 10th 2012 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

            You’re right, guys – you can’t manufacture real rivalries. They have to evolve naturally. But my point is the class divide is a starting point. If the AFL can capitalize on it then it could take off.

            That said, it’s going to be pretty difficult for GWS to position themselves as a working-class club, given they’re plush with AFL funds. You can’t just be ‘Fibros’ in name only. We’ll see what happens from here.

            • January 10th 2012 @ 1:02pm
              Lucan said | January 10th 2012 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

              The AFL, as the governing body, need to steer clear of managing and branding some of these things.

              A flashy official catchphrase only ads to the artificial feel of the rivalry.

      • January 10th 2012 @ 9:30am
        Kasey said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Am I the only one who thinks Sheedy’s schtick won’t translate to Sydney? He got away with his routine in the southern capital, because of the personality cult he had/has built up, that doesn’t exist in Sydney. I predict his routine will fall flat in Sydney, but will of course be reported faithfully in Melbourne as a missionaries tales would be.

        • January 10th 2012 @ 9:53am
          Maximus said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          Masters got away with the fake Fibos and Silvertails – WWE but Anzac bridge – the inner west has a lot of swans supporters. BTW was the SCG renovation conveniently timed to force people away from the reduced SCG and to Skoda stadium??

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2012 @ 9:53am
          The Cattery said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          Let us not forget that Sheeds is an ex-plumber, which might translate very well in Greater Western Sydney.

          • January 10th 2012 @ 5:38pm
            AGO74 said | January 10th 2012 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

            Don’t know what they are like in Melbourne but plumbers in Sydney are notorious for showing up 2-3 hours late and charging like a wounded bull. Perhaps he should keep that info to himself!

            • Roar Guru

              January 10th 2012 @ 8:04pm
              The Cattery said | January 10th 2012 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

              I think that’s the same all over the world.

              Whenever a tradesman turns up within half hour of the agreed time – it’s a miracle.

      • January 11th 2012 @ 12:01am
        amazonfan said | January 11th 2012 @ 12:01am | ! Report

        betamax- ‘Am I the only one who thinks you can’t manufacture this kind of rivalry?’

        I agree, you can’t. I remember how the AFL used to have the rivalry round, and they had Melbourne play against Geelong, in a city versus country thing. Well, as a Demons fan, I can say that I don’t have any animosity towards Geelong, as Melbourne’s true rivals are Collingwood. But then, Collingwood has several rivals, which is why Melbourne weren’t scheduled to play against them in that round. Still, it was just very artificial placing Melbourne against Geelong.

        • January 11th 2012 @ 12:40am
          stabpass said | January 11th 2012 @ 12:40am | ! Report

          Rivalrys come and go, Collingwood/Melbourne rivalry IMO dates back to the 1950’s, and whilst the Queens birthday sort of celebrates it, i would say that Collingwoods real rival is Carlton, and viccy verca, one of the reasons is the 1970, 79,81 GF’S which all were won by Carlton are fresher in peoples minds than the great Melbourne teams of the 1950’s.

          In fact Collingwood Carlton have played in 6 GF, with Carlton winning 5 of them, i have little doubt that Carton is the club that Collingwood hates the most, as well as all the historical reasons, if we go way back, the Carlton wealthy always welcomed the rain because it cleansed their streets and gutters, effectively flushing the offal and excrement of their livestock and the sewage from their shops and homes down into Collingwood, most Collingwood supporters would have no idea about this, and dare i say it, no-one alive live today , would have witnessed it firsthand, but Collingwood fans have it in there DNA to hate Carlton.

          Not sure, but do many Melbourne fans feel a great rivalry with Essendon or Hawthorn, for some reason those teams seem a better fit for Melbourne to me as a rival.

          • January 12th 2012 @ 1:27am
            amazonfan said | January 12th 2012 @ 1:27am | ! Report

            I can’t speak for all Melbourne fans, of course, however I don’t know of any Melbourne fans who particularly care about Hawthorn and Essendon. The Melbourne fans that I know (plus myself) dislike Collingwood more than any other club, and we would care more about defeating Collingwood than Essendon or Hawthorn.

            It is probably true that Collingwood’s real rival is Carlton, however there is a definite connection between Melbourne and Collingwood that we don’t have with any other club. Of Melbourne’s 17 GFs, we’ve gone up against just two clubs multiple times. We’ve beaten Essendon in four of six GFs, and we’ve beaten Collingwood in six of seven GFs. Collingwood provides for half our premierships. The only time they beat us was to prevent us from tying their record. As such, we have a connection with them that we don’t have with other clubs. Not to mention that all my unpleasant supporter experiences at the footy have involved Collingwood fans.

            The rivalry that Melbourne has with Collingwood may be one-sided, which indicates how few genuine rivalries there are, but there are few better feelings than watching Melbourne take out Collingwood. 😀

    • January 10th 2012 @ 7:21am
      Ian Whitchurch said | January 10th 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      You cant, but one stink, or one upset that upends a season, generally starts it.

      My bet for the first rivalry is GWS and Melbourne, which is already off to a good start with GWS exploiting Melbourne’s weak, bruise-free decision to give the #1 draft pick a two year rent-a-player contract.

      • January 10th 2012 @ 12:04pm
        Kasey said | January 10th 2012 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        Ian, these guys are falling hook,line and sinker for the marketing schtick by clambering to be given a ‘name’ to call this regular season clash. As a football fan I pay much more attention to the Melbourne Derby than I do to he MVC v SFC games(maybe because SFC no longer are a title shot) so I get frustrated when I see Fox trying to big up the name “Big Blue” Its just marketing guff. If the game is any good and the fans care about it enough(as they do in the Melbourne derby and MVC v ADL games then the game and its history will sell itself.

        • Columnist

          January 10th 2012 @ 12:19pm
          Vince Rugari said | January 10th 2012 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          That’s why the Q-Clash is yet to reach any great heights – it was all carefully constructed. Too much so, perhaps.

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2012 @ 2:56pm
            mds1970 said | January 10th 2012 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

            Or more likely because the Suns and the Lions were in the bottom three. If both were finals contenders, the Q-Clash would reach far greater heights.

            That first Q-Clash came in the context that Brisbane were yet to win a game, while Gold Coast had 15 goals scored on them before quarter time the week before. Hardly an appetising build-up of form.

            • Roar Guru

              January 10th 2012 @ 3:26pm
              The Cattery said | January 10th 2012 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

              The Suns’ home clash against Brisbane attracted 25,501, their second best home attendance on record.

              That ain’t too shabby for a new club, the AFL’s first from a regional area outside of the Southern states.

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2012 @ 7:25am
      Redb said | January 10th 2012 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      There is no doubt a divide in Sydney east v west that does not exist in other cities to the same geographical extent. Melbourne’s inner eastern and southern hub is the elite, the rest of the populace are in the middle and outer suburban rings. There is a left v ‘right’ side of the Yarra class divide but no one team represents either side.

      At the end of the day, the Sydney derby will only take off when both teams are competitive at the same time. GWS is the little brother that needs to grow up and knock off the Swans. In the match that this occurs, a rivalry will be born. Wont happen in 2012 though.

      Couldn’t agree more with the Q-Clash it sounds and probably was concocted by an over paid marketing team. #shocker

      • Roar Guru

        January 10th 2012 @ 12:58pm
        The Bush said | January 10th 2012 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        It was, a friend of mine works at the Agency that invented it…

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2012 @ 2:05pm
          Redb said | January 10th 2012 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

          Tell them to get back to the drawing board. Sunshine Stoush better than Q Clash.

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2012 @ 3:37pm
            The Bush said | January 10th 2012 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

            I’m on your side…

      • January 10th 2012 @ 1:11pm
        JamesP said | January 10th 2012 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        Actually RedB, I think thats one of the resons that Q-clash worked – due to the Suns knocking off the Lions in the very first game.

        Once the Lions and the Suns come good, I think it work quite well..

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2012 @ 1:57pm
          Redb said | January 10th 2012 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

          it didn’t work because it was called Q-Clash lol

    • January 10th 2012 @ 7:37am
      betamax said | January 10th 2012 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      It’s a shame the AFL admin can’t just do the hands off approach and let this kind of thing happen organically. Again, it won’t do them any favours. Who green lights this kind of transparent marketing ruse? And honestly, who do they think they’re kidding?

      Interesting that you mentioned the Fibros v Silvertails. A genuine cross town rivalry from a bygone era when ‘sport marketing’ wasn’t a career option.

      • January 10th 2012 @ 7:54am
        Jason Cave said | January 10th 2012 @ 7:54am | ! Report

        And the Fibros (Western Suburbs) v Silvertails (Manly) rivalry started off in the most unlikely place for a rugby league match-Melbourne, in 1978.

    • January 10th 2012 @ 8:17am
      Ian Whitchurch said | January 10th 2012 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Rough Conduct,

      One of the secrets of GWS is that while Sheeds is off being the manic media magnet he is, Choco can get on with actually coaching the side.

      • January 10th 2012 @ 11:36am
        Jaceman said | January 10th 2012 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        Quite right,

        Maybe Sheeds was after a headline during a quiet time knowing that the pathetic Bridge analogy wouldnt fly – I cant imagine the AFL NSW let him say that or to get a discussion going – he knows how the Sydney press works. BTW was it intentional that the SCG upgrade will restrict their capacity at a time when GWS will have plenty of spare seats – will the disgruntled westerners go to Skoda instead and give the Swans a reason for their lower crowds as GWS take some of their supporters…Perhaps the AFL was part of the guarantee for the SCG trust money

        • January 10th 2012 @ 4:36pm
          Jaceman said | January 10th 2012 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

          The M4/M5/M2/tollroad derby – take your pick

          • January 10th 2012 @ 6:33pm
            Tommygun said | January 10th 2012 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

            haha love it. The loser shouts the toll for free the day after!! With Sydneys roads i reckon that will take a pretty sizeable chunk out of the GWS “war chest”!

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2012 @ 9:36pm
            Mark Young said | January 10th 2012 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

            There it is! The M4 derby!

            that was what he had to say!

            Jaceman go to the NSW AFL and get his job.

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2012 @ 8:46am
      Ben Carter said | January 10th 2012 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Hi Vince. Welcome! I, too, have an appreciation for the media-savvy-ness of Sheeds. Mad as an Englishman’s dog in a bat colony (I think that covers the main similies?) for sure, but at least he’s prepared to show his love of the sport AND persist in trying new things that take it away from its stock-standard, Victoria-centric worldview.
      And before I get lambasted, I only make that as a purely rational point regarding the fact that there are 10 teams from that state and it (rightly or not) considers itself to be the crucible of the sport itself.
      As for GWS as a team, I still maintain that I’d rather have had new ones in Tassie/NT first, but this could prove (as a business/administrative exercise in itself) very, very interesting indeed for FFA CEO Ben Buckley. Watch how GWS goes. Will it work as marketers hope? Does it have the pulling power at the gate regularly enough? (etc). Observe. Then try and work out whether the A-League needs/could sustain a second team in Sydney yet. It will be utterly fascinating enough for that reason alone.

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