A stunning run through September saw the Giants make their first grand final last year, before they were obliterated by the all-conquering Tigers.
Tom Boyd became the third premiership player to depart the AFL in the middle of the 2019 season when he retired from the Western Bulldogs due to mental health issues.
It was a sad end to a career that never got off the ground despite the hype associated with his early AFL career.
He is not yet 24 years old and the deal that took him to the Bulldogs on $1 million a year for seven years will go down in history as the worst of all time.
Originally recruited from TAC Cup club Eastern Ranges by Greater Western Sydney as the No.1 pick in the 2013 Draft, it was only one year, nine games and eight goals later until he was traded to the Western Bulldogs in exchange for the ex-captain Ryan Griffen.
Griffen had given good service to the Bulldogs over ten years and still figures in the club’s top 100 game-players and goal-scorers in positions 24 and 41 respectively. However, Griffen had a massive falling out with then-coach Brendan McCartney and requested a trade to GWS to be reunited with former team-mate Leon Cameron, who was then assistant coach of Greater Western Sydney.
McCartney resigned as Bulldogs coach days later, but the damage had been done, with Griffen going on to give good service to the fledgling GWS club over the next four seasons with 55 games and 32 goals. Griffen retired at the end of the 2018 season and added to the disastrous outcome of the trade.
Mind you, there were plenty of indications that Boyd – a 200-centimetre, 103-kilogram forward/ruckman who played junior footy for Norwood and attended Luther College – could be something special.
But the expense and nature of the trade was out of kilter with the culture of the Bulldogs – a working-class football club from Melbourne’s western suburbs – and some supporters who were good collection tin-rattlers for the club in its poorer days have stopped attending games since the ill-fated trade took place.
Boyd’s statistics at the Bulldogs – tallying 29 games and 29 goals – are nowhere near enough to earn him top 100 status and therefore elite billing at the club.
GWS, on the other hand, only joined the league in 2012 and has only played 93 players to date, so Boyd is an automatic qualifier and sits in equal 70th position in the Giants’ top 100 game-players and in equal 40th position as a goal-scorer.
As the Greater Western Sydney club plays more seasons, Boyd’s name will eventually disappear from their top 100 lists but it is hoped that in the meantime he is well enough to attend functions at both of his two clubs.
That’s particularly the case at the Bulldogs, where his legacy is not the number of games that he played, but his high-level performance in the Dogs’ great victory in the 2016 premiership – an achievement that is the aim of all AFL footballers.