In 2011, the year before the GWS Giants made their debut in the AFL, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire glibly referred to western Sydney as “the land of the falafel”, at once offending a great many while illustrating the unique challenges facing the code’s newest expansion club. Though most of those challenges would come off the field, affairs on the field were torrid in those early years. The Giants’ first team was comprised mostly of teenagers, with the odd mature-age recruit and a rugby league convert, Israel Folau, thrown in for good measure. The club’s foundation coach, Kevin Sheedy, said he was the “highest-paid Under-19s coach in the history of the game”. It really was boys against men. GWS won just three games in their first two seasons and 100-point thrashings were commonplace. But the club, and a ruling body which bankrolled the code’s push into western Sydney, have always taken the long view. This week, the gamble goes some way to paying off when the AFL’s upstart club takes on the might of Richmond in the grand final. In many ways it’s a fairytale fixture for the AFL. But the truth is, the Giants have battled resentment and indifference from… Read full this story
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