GWS Giants   Leave a comment

Saturday, 06 July, 2013

On Saturday I went to an AFL (Australian Rules Football) game between the GWS (Greater Western Sydney) Giants and the Western Bulldogs. GWS are the AFL’s latest ‘expansion’ team and as part of their franchise, they have agreed to play three games a season in Canberra as opposed to their home ground in the Sydney western suburbs. As they are a ‘new’ team (I think this is their third season), with a very young playing staff and coaching setup, they don’t win very many games. In fact they’ve not one a single game this year and this was week 15! and are firmly rooted to the bottom of the AFL ladder. The Western Bulldogs (A Melbourne team) are not much better, they were forth bottom going into the game, and so expectations were high for a close game, with even the possibility of a Giants win.

I paid $28 for a unreserved seat in the 14 thousand capacity Manuka Oval, as the bus driver who brought us down on the free bus from Woden, laid on by the club (are you watching Manchester United/City?), told me when I boarded that there wasn’t that many expected to turn up for what was essentially a bottom of the league match on a freezing cold winters day. I grabbed a seat high up in one of the stands facing the sun is the hope that it would keep me warm until the end of the game. By the time the game started, I would say that the ground was half full, A bit of a disappointment, as some of the games down in Melbourne attract crowds of up to 90k. Still the on field build-up was the same as I’ve seen on the telly, with the players running out under a huge banner which was made up by the supporters club.

The game started with an immediate goal by GWS, which was a surprise as the last time I watched them live, they didn’t score a point in the whole of the first quarter! By the end of the quarter, GWS were leading the Bulldogs by a couple of points. The points system is; 6 points for a ‘goal’ (the ball going between the inner (middle) two posts) and 1 point for a ‘behind’ (the ball going between the inner and outer post). Even I could tell that the playing standard wasn’t as good as the teams at the top of the ladder (Hawthorn, Geelong, Essendon, Swans etc.), but by the end of the first half, GWS were still leading by a few points. I’m not up to date with all the rules, in fact, I’m not even sure there are any rules! As there seems to be a lot of pushing and shoving on and off the ball, with the only time the referees blowing the whistle is when a ‘mark’ is made (A player catching the ball cleanly after its been kicked to him) or when the ball goes dead off the side of the field of play or when the ball is not likely to come out of a melee in which several players seem to be grappling on the ground.

The half time interval is quite a long affair, so I took the opportunity to have a walk around the ground and move seating positions so that I was located at the other end of the ground. The sun was setting by this time and any benefit I was getting from it had long gone. The third quarter mirrored the previous two and it was with great expectations that GWS emerged for the final quarter, still a couple of points up in a low scoring game. However, as someone the crowd pointed out to me earlier, this is GWS and they always have a bad quarter at some point in the match. Sure enough, they managed to miss a couple easy shots at goal to extend their lead and the Bulldogs started to make crucial ‘marks’ deep into GWS territory. These ‘marks’ were converted and with a couple of minutes left the home team suddenly down by 10 points. GWS scored one last Goal in the final moments of the match and everyone was getting a bit excited at the ‘centre bounce’ after this, but before the Giants could get hold of the ball, the final siren signalled the end of the game.

After the game the winning team’s club song is played full blast through the loudspeakers. Usually these songs are pretty cheesy affairs and the Bulldog’s is no exception. Both teams stayed out on the pitch for the presentation ceremony and to thank the fans for turning up. About ten minutes after the games ended another siren was sounded and this was the signal for hundreds of people to dash onto the playing surface in order to play ‘footy’.

Posted July 6, 2013 by yermandownunder in Canberra Events, Observations

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