Those familiar with my tweets and earlier blog posts will know of my enthusiasm for the Greater Western Sydney enterprise – a western Sydney team for the football I prefer. It was great to go to the Blacktown Sportspark to see them do very creditably against the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood. The crowd was very different from those I have experienced at Swans games – apart from a bigger chunk of working class people, there seemed to be a lot of expatriates from other states in their team colours or have adopted the old AFL cries – especially when Collingwood was being headed.
In addition, my kids have fully bought into the Giants fun – they love the song. As do I. This extended version shows how much Harry Angus from The Cat Empire enjoyed writing the song and its instrumental solo.
The media coverage I have seen about the Giants, however, has not inspired confidence that a new, enthusiastic supporter like me, my kids or those around us matters much in the way this team will be covered. Already, it’s all about TV ratings numbers and crowds, as reported here by Sydney Morning Herald league writer, Brad Walter. He, along with AFL media people, is reporting mostly TV watching numbers and crowd comparisons.
Problem is with comparing the crowd numbers – indeed using the word “dwarfed” between the NAB Cup and Charity Shield games is one of stadiums. The Blacktown Sportspark only fits 10,000. It’s a suburban hill ground with a moderate grandstand – one to which tickets were not being sold. The ANZ Stadium figures for the Charity Shield aren’t that good – 1/4 full – for a game featuring two teams with large supporter bases, Souths and St. George Illawarra.
All in all, it doesn’t bode well for the way the game will be covered. It is natural that crowd wise, GWS will have a lean first year. They are a brand new club who might win one or two games. Yet we will hear all about crowd and TV numbers from the NRL, who clearly feel threatened. Proof of this can be found in the Walter article, where reference is made to the NRL putting up “giant billboards on the motorway to Sydney’s west and near the airport that will make it clear this is a league town” as being evidence of league’s supremacy. I would have thought that if people from other places were to judge Sydney by its billboards, they would think we were a city full of men who can’t “get it up” and need some nasal spray. I can understand the strategy of selling rugby league to people stuck on Sydney’s motorways – but saying it’s a response to the “threat” of AFL is stretching the significance a little too far. League crowd numbers for the next few years won’t be threatened by AFL in anywhere near the capacity written about by the likes of Roy Masters and Walter. League is still No. 1 in the west and will continue that position for many years.
If it wasn’t enough to get reasoned treatment from league writers, then there is the SMH’s resident funnyman, Richard Hinds, who wrote this snarky piece about the Giants. He basically writes in a bitter tone about the way the Giants have been set up, as well as throwing in the predictable jokes about acts who perform at Rooty Hill RSL. Hilarious. We have never heard those before. I can’t really say anything else about the quality of the piece, because there is nothing to say in that regard. Hinds seems to have some scores to settle with the AFL Commission and is using criticism of the Giants to carry that bitterness. If this is setting the tone, I can’t really see much analysis of any meaning from Hinds during this season.
As with the field full of derp that is in the way Federal Politics is reported, I can predict the Giants won’t get much better. I personally am looking forward to the games and atmosphere of the new members. That will be enough for me.