GWS apologists have a long season ahead

Geoff Lemon Columnist

121 Have your say

    When Greater Western Sydney went down by ten goals in round one, even the most charitable individual would surely have squinted quizzically at this being acclaimed a positive result for the AFL’s newest side.

    If losing to Sydney by 63 points was a kind of moral victory, then the next week’s loss to North Melbourne by 129 must have been a moral draw.

    Funny, because it looked like a good old-fashioned flogging of a side that is nowhere near AFL standard.

    As the baby of the league is licked clean by a doting Andrew Demetriou, it seems that many fans and writers are have been inflicted with a sudden softness of the heart, gathering around to coo at GWS’s big brown eyes and shaky limbs.

    When they went down to the Swans, the positive press was extraordinary, as we were exhorted to look for the positives in the Giants’ performance.

    After last weekend’s massacre, those enthusiasts should be reminded that even body bags have silver linings.

    Let’s face it. The kids in orange were beaten comfortably by a rusty Swans side that never left second gear, then torn apart by a mob of Kangaroos who are unlikely to see past the middle of the ladder.

    That neither team is among the scarier of this season’s competitors speaks volumes.

    Not to say the likely ladder-leaders will do worse to GWS than North did. Hawthorn, Collingwood or Geelong are more likely to save their energy, rest a few older or sore players, bring any injury returns back from the VFL, and give a chance to some youngsters. They should still ease to wins by 10 or 12 goals.

    But it’s the mid-table sides that will really take it to GWS, fired up by the chance to show some dominance, boost percentage, get momentum and avoid any chance of embarrassment. Watch for demolitions by Essendon, Richmond, or an improving Port Adelaide.

    That any side could get two matches against both GWS and Gold Coast is gravely unfair, though a couple have. A good move, though, was programming the two new sides against one another twice. Either one will inflate their season’s tally by eight points, or they’ll manage a win apiece.

    Realistically, these will be the Giants’ only chance at points. Aside from this, they will be shaken and cast aside each week until the whole inglorious affair is done.

    None of which is to say they shouldn’t be there. Any new side will struggle early in its life, and this is a process that all involved must grin and bear. But if sympathisers are going to be compulsively searching for positives each week, they’re liable for a good case of eyestrain.

    “North Melbourne’s class and experience has proved too much for Greater Western Sydney at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena”, said the AFL’s report, in an understatement on par with suggesting that K2 summiteers might need a coat.

    Much praise was given to GWS’s solid third quarter, when they scored six goals to North’s eight. Less of a mention was given to their tally of three behinds in the first quarter and one in the second, which led Twitter wags to speculate that perhaps the players had misunderstood Kevin Sheedy’s instructions to have the four points secured by half time.

    On a day in which North had 15 goalkickers, most attention went to the Giants’ Jeremy Cameron. Yes, kicking four goals in such a defeat is worthy. But to be honest, even I would have got a couple of touches at centre half forward as the gorging Kangaroos had a post-Christmas-buffet zone-out.

    So why all the sympathy?

    Adherents of other codes like to think it’s because all Aussie Rules fans are in Maoist thrall to the might of the AFL, endorsing its every decision in a monotone choir of thousands. They also believe that all football writers are in Andrew Demetriou’s personal employ.

    If the latter is the case, then my cheques have been going astray in the post. The former is like suggesting that every round-ball hoofer sings a morning hymn to the glory of the FFA, or that every league fan has a picture of David Gallop on his mantelpiece.

    There are so many reasons to look at the Giants, and the Suns for that matter, with contempt. The plastic nature of the invented clubs. The musclehead names lifted from American codes. Their horrible playing strips. Oh, and the colours? Guys, did you think Wests Tigers wouldn’t notice?

    If residents of the rugby states think that Melbourne fans would band together to support an invented team in Sydney, they badly misunderstand the nature of our ability to hate each other based on stripe and sash.

    Not to mention that watching Kevin Sheedy trying to coach an U-19 team in an elite comp is just embarrassing, like seeing your drunken uncle obscenely grinding his artificial hips to a Nicki Minaj song at your 16th birthday.

    I also feel at liberty to hate the Gold Coast for wasting the best player in the competition on five seasons of floggings. Were Gary Ablett still at Geelong, the Cats’ premiership odds would be substantially shortened, and his own abilities given the fuel to truly burn. Instead, mired in mediocrity, we’ll never see the Australian Little Master reach Tendulkar heights.

    And yet… and yet, there is a current of goodwill out there for the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Maybe it’s just sympathy for their stupidly long name. (Seriously, even the acronym has the word ‘double-you’ in it.) Maybe it’s the fact that they look like a Boost Juice cabinet. Maybe they’re the footballing equivalent of Bambi.

    But it’s there. Look, even the more parochial supporters would acknowledge that expansion is likely to be good for the game. Exposure, competitiveness, earning capacity will eventually increase.

    And we acknowledge that eventually the Giants will start to seem more like a real team. It happened to sides that wear purple and teal, and are in tight contest for the worst club songs in history.

    Most importantly, eventually the Giants will start to challenge as a football side, becoming a force to be reckoned with on the field. All of the other aspects of the club’s development will be boosted enormously when that comes along.

    But please, for now, don’t try to find a great glowing positive in every humiliation the Giants have. Like adolescence, this season will be a series of awkward moments, minor and major embarrassments, uncomfortable developments, and sticky patches, all in a series of painful steps that must be gone through in order to reach maturity, impress sports fans, and look good in orange.

    As we should with anyone’s awkward adolescence, let’s all draw as little attention to it as possible, pray that it’s soon over, then let the sufferers jam it into a dim distant recess of their memories as they try to move on with a better phase of their lives.

    Geoff Lemon
    Geoff Lemon

    Geoff Lemon is a writer, editor and broadcaster covering sport for The Roar, The Guardian and ABC, as well as writing on politics, literature and history for a range of outlets.

    He tweets from @GeoffLemonSport.

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    The Crowd Says (121)

    • April 12th 2012 @ 1:15am
      Steve said | April 12th 2012 @ 1:15am | ! Report

      You’re right about Gary Ablett Jr: what a waste.

      • April 12th 2012 @ 2:38pm
        Mattay said | April 12th 2012 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

        I had this thought on the weekend as well in the lead up to Monday’s game. Ablett should be playing in that game, the showcase match of the round. We’ll never see the best player of his generation in a big game ever again. Shame.

    • April 12th 2012 @ 7:10am
      Macca said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      North didn’t relent did they ….they had no sympathy for “Bambi”. I am not a big fan of North either way. I think by the middle of the year we should see some improvement in the Giants and they might even catch a side or two napping/taking the win for granted. Maybe they might “steal” a win or two during that middle to late period of the year.

    • April 12th 2012 @ 7:22am
      ManInBlack said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      I took the family to Tassie over Easter, and the best game me and the boys watched was Launceston v Northern Bombers (Nth Lonnie) at Aurora on Friday night. Top game. Then to Bellerive and I just hoped that North could do the job on the Giants and not get embarrassed (by ‘only’ winning by say 40 pts).

      I’m delighted with the job the Roos did. They didn’t give the Giants a sniff in the first half (similar to what Essendon did to the Suns last year).

      The 3rd term saw the Giants show some of what they could do.

      Tom Scully was rusty first game in. They missed James McDonald. And will be better with big Setanta out there (I don’t mind him as a footballer). Listening to commentators after the game they went on about how the Giants should really target recruiting a Travis Cloke and I’m thinking “Hang on, there’s a kid called Patton who’ll be a key for them for the next 10 years.”.

      Having Orange in the AFL is long overdue, just as it was long overdue to get purple via the Dockers.

      The Giants will get better and play well between rounds 5-14. Then they’ll struggle to run out the year.

      Being beaten by a rusty Swans in rnd 1 is one thing, but, the Swans at least are used to playing together. The Giants – and this is part of the fallibility of the creation process – the Giants are heaviliy laden by draftees brought into the club since December. Many of the guys who played over the period of the TAC and NEAFL seasons have been moved on. So, no surprise the Swans did the job on the Giants in game 1. The Giants WERE pretty competitive and the Swans really only blew them away for a short period.

      Judge the Giants in 4 years time.

      • April 12th 2012 @ 8:01am
        Ian Whitchurch said | April 12th 2012 @ 8:01am | ! Report


        While the man-child-mountain called Patton is getting his knees iced, theres this young man called Jeremy Cameron thats developing quite nicely into a KPF. He doesnt get the press that Patton does, but he would have gone in the top two in what we used to call the draft Gold Coast dominated.

        Personally, I’d leave Cloke alone, with maybe a $3m/3 year contract offer just to keep the chooks fed, and be re-signing the kids.

        • Roar Guru

          April 12th 2012 @ 8:52am
          Redb said | April 12th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

          Disagree, the Giants need Cloke. He’s the best contested mark in the game. The kids like Patton and Cameron are years away from his level.

          • April 12th 2012 @ 10:48am
            Ian Whitchurch said | April 12th 2012 @ 10:48am | ! Report


            Yes, but for what Cloke will cost, we could lock in Patton, Cameron, Hampton,. Bugg, Coniglio and Shiel in for five years.

            • Columnist

              April 12th 2012 @ 1:10pm
              Geoff Lemon said | April 12th 2012 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

              Are you a GWS man, Ian? Sheesh, you do love an underdog.

              • April 13th 2012 @ 9:19am
                Strummer Jones said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report

                Didn’t you know Australians love an underdog Geoff. You must be a Kiwi 😉

    • April 12th 2012 @ 7:30am
      NF said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Expanison teams go through hell and back unless your name the Storm, the NQ Cowboys my team got 3 wooden spoons in there first five years of existence so baptism by fire pretty much and the Giants will go through the same.

      • April 12th 2012 @ 10:41am
        gurudoright said | April 12th 2012 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        The big difference between the Cowboys and the Giant re: admission, was that the Cowboys were never given the concessions that the Giants and Suns were given/get. The Cowboys along with the Reds, Crushers and Warriors had to play by the rules as all the other clubs in the ARL of the time. The same salary cap with no exceptions for marquee players. I would be totally pissed off if I was a St.Kilda or Western Bulldogs supporter knowing that my team have not won a premiership in over 40 /50 years yet the AFL will give these two new plastic teams every opportunity through concessions to win a flag (ha!) within 5 years.

        • Roar Guru

          April 12th 2012 @ 12:49pm
          The Cattery said | April 12th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          Except no AFL fans really believe either will win a premiership in 5 years, in the meantime, it’s four guaranteed points (well…almost).

          I note you forget to mention the Storm winning the NRL in their second year in the comp, I mean c’mon, how is that at all possible in a real competition?

          • April 12th 2012 @ 3:21pm
            Ian Whitchurch said | April 12th 2012 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

            Simple. You betray the future of rugby league by folding the Perth Reds and the Hunter Mariners into them, one of whom had good backs but no forwards, and one of whom had no backs but good forwards.

            • April 12th 2012 @ 5:01pm
              Tommygun said | April 12th 2012 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

              Exactly right Ian, did not expect to read the name, the Hunter Mariners on this thread!!

              Those backs that left the Mariners and the forwards that left the Reds went on to form a great deal of the NSW origin team. Scott Hill, Brett Kimmorley, Robbie Ross, Rodney Howe and Robbie Kearns… Pretty handy players!!

              With any luck Ian maybe two AFL teams will fold and GWS can pick the eyes out of them! *

              *Of course i know you don’t want teams folding. **
              ** Maybe Collingwood

              • April 13th 2012 @ 12:57pm
                Jaceman said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

                And the News Ltd Broncos gave up Test prop Glenn Lazarus to them as well – how pleasant of them…

              • April 13th 2012 @ 3:34pm
                Tommygun said | April 13th 2012 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Lazarus was on the decline! How many tests or origins did he play in Melbourne?? NONE!

                Bronco’s had to get rid of him to keep Tallis, Webcke, Thorn, Carroll, Lockyer, Gee, Sailor and plenty of others.

    • Roar Guru

      April 12th 2012 @ 7:38am
      The_Wookie said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      GWS apologists – that would be those of us not sticking the boot into a brand new club 2 games into their first season right? If we want to find positives we will thanks. Not everything has to be negative, but then of course your part of a media problem that thrives on negativity and controversy, and GWS is sure to provide far more of that than it will insignificant little positives like players winning the rising star, or doing better than expected against expected finals bound teams.

      On colours why would the AFL even care what colours the Wests tigers wear. It certainly hasnt bothred anyone that both AFL and NRl, the NBL for a while and state cricket all have teams called the Tigers – and thats not a new phenomena. Im pretty sure the Victorys colours and shirts brought more than one memory back of the VFL “Big V” Jumper. The Roar and The Lions share the same name. Colours and name sharing are common across leagues – particularly in such a small sproting market as Australia.

      Ablett isnt being wasted on the Gold Coast at all. He’s learning aspects of his own game that he could not learn at Geelong. On the Gold Coast hes learning more about responsibility and eladership than he would ever have to. The man sets a similar example on the Coast that Judd did for a Blues outfit that had just won 3 wooden spoons in 4 years.

      • April 12th 2012 @ 8:34am
        Australian Rules said | April 12th 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        I’m quite amused at the predictable doomsayers frantically lining up to pot the Giants and Suns after Round 2.

        Did ANYONE expect them to win many games? No.
        Why? Because they’re a team full of 18 year olds. Do the same thing in any other code and the results would be exactly the same.

        All the chanting of last rights and smug delight in their early struggles is quite misplaced. This venture is directed at 5 years from now…not now.

        As for the “colours” argument. Genuinely not even worth wasting breath on.

      • April 12th 2012 @ 9:20am
        oikee said | April 12th 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Yes, but nobody messes with Maroon. 😉

        Everyone knows Ablett is wasted, same as Hunt and Falou are wasted now, careers lost, gone forever. They had this taken away. I cry every night, it gets easier they tell me.

        Let me show you what Falou has lost. at 17 he was in the Australian schoolboys trip to England, wearing the Green and Gold with the big V, he was a Junior Kangaroo.

        He was also in the Broncos, playing alongside one of the Greatest players to ever lace up a boot. Lockyer, a future Immortal, imagine telling your grand kids that. ?

        At the age of 18 he became one of the youngest players to ever pull-on the Green and Gold of Australia to play for the Kangaroos. He did this before he got a gig playing Origin for the Mighty Maroons, he was now up in the either as becoming maybe one of the greatest ever centres the game had ever seen, or since Big Mal had retired.

        They were looking real good at the Broncos, looked like they were not far off winning another premiership, then disaster struck. He pissed his whole career down the drain, threw the whole lot in the toilet.

        He is playing a game he really is not suited to, lets be honest, yes he could eventually be good at AFL, in 3-4 years time he could be great. Yet he wont ever play for Australia again, maybe in some hybrid game, he wont play in the 2013 world cup in england, he wont play in the 2017 world cup in Australia , he will never play for Queensland, origin.

        He sacrificed true greatness in my eyes, for what? For a few dolllars more. I sit, i cry. Very sad.

        • April 12th 2012 @ 5:05pm
          Tommygun said | April 12th 2012 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

          I know you are a Queenslander oikee, so it’s not your fault but it is spelt FOLAU.

          Just a friendly hint from south of the border.

      • April 12th 2012 @ 10:12pm
        amazonfan said | April 12th 2012 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

        Completely agree.

        I also hate the term apologist. It is almost always used by people to describe other who defend something that the user of the word simply doesn’t agree with or dislikes. I have a rule, to never take seriously those who use such a term.

    • April 12th 2012 @ 8:20am
      Football Fan said | April 12th 2012 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      It goes without saying that he is by far and away the best player in that team (if not the comp), but I wonder if Ablett is racking up these numbers and such because teams know it doesn’t really matter how hard they tag him because there’s no real fear of the next person to get the ball?

      If he was still at Geelong you could guarantee that Clint Jones would have been a LOT more interested in what Ablett was up to last weekend.

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