When it comes to GWS Giants, this tall poppy’s not for cutting down. Not by the latest campaign of lies and misinformation, much of it coming from south of the Barassi Line.
A sudden rise up the ladder this year has made many sit up and take notice. No longer the AFL’s whipping boys, the young kids that were cannon fodder in the Giants’ early years have grown up to become Giants.
But now there is jealousy and mistruth. It’s human nature to try to cut down the tall poppies and put the upstarts in their place, but the record needs to be set straight.
As far as the Giants being gifted early draft picks; to get the truth, replace “gifted” with “traded”.
When the decision was made to expand the league, the 16 existing clubs unanimously agreed on what concessions would be made for the new clubs to enable them to build lists.
The concessions GWS Giants were given were similar to what Gold Coast Suns were given. Have GWS used theirs more effectively? Unquestionably so.
But the existing clubs were unwilling to trade quality players to the Giants. But they were happy to trade early picks. So when the question is asked how the Giants came to have so many early picks, the answer is simple. Other clubs willingly traded them.
Hardly a gift. It’s smart trading.
And trading will continue. Some, like Taylor Adams and Adam Treloar, will request a trade to move home; and clubs that recognise their value at the trading table will get them.
Others, like the Carlton quartet, will request a trade for senior opportunities. Those trades are usually win-win. All clubs trade, the Giants have traded well; and will continue to.
I’ve written before about the Academy zones. These were hardly gold mines in seasons past. As recently as 2012, not one NSW player was picked in the entire draft.
Why did NSW produce four top-16 picks last year? They never did before. And the answer is simple – because of the resources that the Giants and Swans have put in.
The clubs have invested their own resources. And players who would not otherwise have been draftable are getting picked up early.
Would Callum Mills have been a number three pick if not for the Swans Academy? Not a chance. He likely would have fallen through the cracks completely, like every single NSW player did in 2012. At best he’d have been rookie listed. The Swans put their own resources into making him a number three pick.
Would Jacob Hopper, Matthew Kennedy and Harry Himmelburg have been picked in the top 16 if the Giants Academy didn’t exist? No chance. Probably most AFL recruiters would never have heard of them.
And it’s only reasonable that clubs that put their own resources into players who would otherwise not have been draftable should get first dibs on those players.
These zones are adding to the talent pool, not diluting it. The system is working.
As far as the fixturing of the Giants versus Western Bulldogs final this weekend, it’s quite simple. GWS finished higher on the ladder, and under the finals system as it stands, it’s a Giants’ home final. Therefore it’s at the Giants’ home ground.
Other teams may be constrained by contracts the AFL has, and that’s unfortunate. But that’s life. But the Giants only have contracts at two grounds, Spotless Stadium and Manuka Oval.
The Giants are not a party to the contract that is currently being terminated at ANZ Stadium, relating to Swans home finals. The Giants do not have a contract with the SCG.
At the time the game was scheduled, the Giants had never drawn over 15,000 for a non-derby game at Spotless. The capacity at 25,000 was considered by experts, who should know more about crowd expectations than amateur enthusiasts like you or I, to be more than adequate.
If it sells out, so be it. The place will be rocking. So much more than tens of thousands of empty seats at a cavernous mega-stadium.
If you don’t want your team to play a final at Spotless, it’s quite simple. Finish higher than the Giants and get the home final.
We’ll go anywhere when we’re away. That’s the AFL’s decision, not ours.
All clubs had a beginning. All clubs were once created.
In the beginning, when God spake “Let there be light”, were the existing clubs already in existence with their 70,000 members and a million supporters? Of course not!
They started. They were manufactured. Just like the Giants did; only the Giants started a century or so later.
And the other clubs didn’t have 70,000 members and a million supporters when they started. It was a small group of visionaries, with a dream and a plan. Most didn’t live to see their creations become the mega-clubs they are today.
The Giants started later. The small group of visionaries are alive today. The dream is real. The plan is in progress. But we’re still catching up.
The Giants’ current tally of just over 15,000 members is a similar number to what the Western Bulldogs had in 1997, the first year of their current identity. It’s more than that club ever had under the Footscray name.
It took the Bulldogs 100 years or so to get their membership to that level. The Giants have done it in five years.
A manufactured club with few supporters? No, the correct term is a club that started, as every other club once did; and has built support in five years that took other clubs a century to do.
There will always be critics. There will always be those who want to cut down the growing tall poppies.
But they can wallow in their bitter jealousy. I’ve got a final to attend on Saturday. Maybe a grand final the Saturday after.
It’s been quite a rise and the best is yet to come.
Here Come The Giants!