The Greater Western Sydney Giants are aptly named. Since their beginnings, they have been given a giant bank account, giant assistance in early draft picks, and in the space of five quick years, a giant chance of their first AFL premiership.
Compare this to the Western Bulldogs, a team that came so close to achieving the ultimate goal, but lost to eventual winners Adelaide by two points in the 1997 preliminary final, and to the same team the following year (by a much bigger margin).
Fast forward to the 2009 season where the Bulldogs lost to St Kilda at the same stage and – in an almost recurring nightmare – went down to St Kilda again the following year, at the same stage.
This run of exits and the feel of being ‘battlers’ has resulted in the Bulldogs being ‘everyone’s second-favourite team’.
The battlers from the west, armed with characters such as Doug Hawkins and Bob Murphy, have won one flag since 1954. Then there was that dramatic trade period where their coach was sacked and their best player left, and an awful run of luck with injury this year.
All these factors have pulled at our heart strings and created a dramatic backdrop to the Doggies’ rise.
These two teams will battle it out on Saturday night in the preliminary game to move through to the 2016 AFL grand final.
Add the multiple connections between the two clubs – the Ryan Griffen, Callan Ward, Tom Boyd playing connection or Leon Cameron being an ex-Bulldog – and the history creates further intrigue.
When the inevitable conversations occur about who wins on Saturday night, many neutral supporters will have a soft spot for the Bullies and lead with their heart. The emotional connection football supporters have with the Bulldogs may be even stronger, as they are up against the side that has been heavily supported by the AFL.
But over that second latte and on the same conversation, you might find yourself leading with your head. You may start thinking that with GWS playing on their own track, in red-hot form, and a week off, mixed with the Bulldogs playing in two highly charged and energetic games, with a trip across the Nullabor, highlights many reasons why the bookies have the Giants as favourite.
Saturday night will be a passionate and energetic contest between two clubs making a charge towards the final dance.
Both your heart and your head are vital components of the human body. Which will you follow?