I’m sure I am not alone, but I was a sceptic. When the news broke back in January of 2008, that the AFL was planing to have a team play on the Gold Coast, my instant reaction was simply: “Been there done that – it just doesn’t work.”
I know it was a long time ago, but doesn’t anyone remember the Bears?
No forget about that, just think about a number of sporting teams.
Rugby league had tried with the Gold Coast Giants, the Gold Coast Seagulls, and then the Gold Coast Chargers.
After a decade of trying to make it work, they gave it away.
When the AFL made it’s announcement, the NRL has just begun trying again on the Coast, with the Gold Coast Titans playing in 2007 for the first time, and while their crowds were good, there was still skepticism about their long term future.
And then remember the Gold Coast Cougars, Gold Coast Rollers and Gold Coast Blaze – all now extinct National Basketball League teams.
And again, doesn’t anyone remember the Brisbane Bears?
The AFL had played five games on the Coast during 2006 and 2007 – the first time since the Bears left town in 1992 – but we hardly saw those matches ignite thoughts of a desperate need for a team on the Coast.
North Melbourne had played three games there in 2007 and while there had been talk about the Kangaroos relocating, that hardly looked like a winner.
Of course there are expats there, but the consensus was the Gold Coast was a tourist town, with beaches and sunshine, not a footy town.
But what would I know. The AFL went ahead, the Suns were born, they chased and caught the best player in the game, surrounded him with some established talent and some talented youngsters, build a new home ground, and voilà, a football club is born.
It was a battle, and it still is. Crowds fell last season after the interest of their debut year in 2011 waned, and results hadn’t improved. And again in 2013, while wins flowed more freely, there were still plenty of doubters, not only on the Coast, but around the country.
But then came last Saturday. Watching from afar on television as they managed the club’s first win over a top eight team in their stunning victory over Collingwood, it was impossible to not become somewhat of a believer.
It wasn’t just the on-field result. Watching the crowd shots of the Suns’ fans, firstly anxiously biting nails, willing the siren to arrive as the Pies surged, then displaying absolute jubilation when that siren sounded, you really could feel the passion through the TV screen of those Gold Coast fans among the 19,721 at Carrara Stadium.
They really do want this team. They really do appreciate it, and clearly support it with the passion required. They hurt in defeat, and rejoice in victory. What would I know, it does work!
They have built it, and I’m sure as the saying goes, the people will come. Still even now, their 13,325 average crowd, is far from disappointing.
Many scoffed when Gary Ablett jnr decided to accept the offer of the Suns. It was said they just wanted him to be the face to promote the club, but he would flounder not being among his champion Geelong teammates.
They offered him everything including the kitchen sink. Judging by what we are seeing of Gaz, they should have thrown in the entire kitchen, the bathroom and an ensuite. He’s worth so much more than he’s getting.
We knew he was a superstar capable of winning games off his own bat, but he is showing tremendous leadership ability at the Suns.
Watching on Saturday it was great to see the way he helps those around him, he gives teammates that pat on the back, and words of encouragement when they do well or make mistakes.
He apologises when he makes a rare error, and celebrates like a kid in a lolly shop when they get a win.
Of course there is a long way to go before they Suns are where the AFL – and their fans – want them to one day be, but they are well and truly on the right road.
Like many I too was a skeptic about putting a team in Western Sydney. I hope one day soon I will be able to say I was wrong about that too.
How good it would be to see the Giants and their fans, on board the rollercoaster that is what being a football fan is all about?