The Greater Western Sydney Giants should embrace all the hatred


The Greater Western Sydney Giants should embrace all the hatred
  1. The Greater Western Sydney Giants should embrace all the hatred
    theage.com.au
    The one piece that is missing for the Giants is widespread hatred and its corollary, widespread support. On-field success alone won't build…
    Football

This comes to you from the town of Broken Hill, or, as the NRL's and AFL's duelling colonisers know it, Greater Greater Western Sydney (GGWS).

Like all of Sydney west of Anzac Parade, GGWS is a battleground between the football codes. The AFL has recently discovered it, while the NRL neglects and forgets it until it remembers to remember it.

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Phil Gould is, on that point, as right as ever: the Penrith-Parramatta derby should be played twice a year, a bigger showdown than even those legendary Good Friday, Anzac Day and Queen's Birthday traditions that we would cherish so fondly if we could recall who played in them. "How The West Was Won" ought to be league's marquee feature. Unfortunately, one of the reasons the Eels-Panthers match is shunted onto Saturday afternoon is that the Nine Network has turned Friday Night Football into a permanent outreach program for the Broncos.

Here in Broken Hill, the battle of the codes was decided long before a Brisbane rugby league team was a twinkle in Porky Morgan's eye and Rupert Murdoch's chequebook. Like much of GGWS, Broken Hill has been an Aussie rules town since day dot, for its own historical and geographic reasons. Since its earliest mining days it has been considered a northern suburb of Adelaide, and its current favourite son is the Crows' captain Tex Walker, who has inherited the mantle of songbird June Bronhill, painter Pro Hart, crooked magistrate Murray Farquhar, comedian Steve "Sandman" Abbott, zinc, lead and silver as the Hill's greatest export.

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On the right track: The GWS Giants are bound for premiership success. On the right track: The GWS Giants are bound for premiership success. Photo: Getty Images

Which is not to say that every kiddie is walking around the slag heap in a number 13 Adelaide guernsey, because, typically of GGWS, it is importation that brings allegiance. People from "Away" (anywhere not Broken Hill) bring their teams with them. So you are as likely to see a Richmond, Essendon or St Kilda guernsey as any other, and if it's a leaguie stumbling out of the Palace Hotel, it would be no surprise to see him in a North Sydney Bears get-up. Footie jerseys are completely disconnected from location, I realise on Argent Street when I run into Nick, a Broken Hill local, the only man bold enough to wear a Manly Sea Eagles jersey west of Dee Why.

Why? "I f---en hate Manly," Nick explains. "But I went to a fancy dress party as Fatty Vautin because I look a bit like him, I bought this Manly jersey for the night, and now I have to keep wearing it around because they're too expensive to wear once. But I really hate Manly." Who does Nick support? "Cowboys." Of course. "I used to live in Brisbane. I really hate the Broncos. So I follow the Cowboys."

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For all the random reasons (mostly centred around hate) that people follow teams, what you are least likely to see here is a Sydney Swan or a GWS Giant, both of whom are equally loathed in Broken Hill, because if there's one thing that unites the folk of GGWS, it is their shared hatred of the S. And this is the rub with the AFL's crusade to manufacture fandom around certain teams, focused on Saturday night's derby between the Swans and the Giants. Hatred – the most powerful force in football – takes time to brew.

From the eyrie of corporate headquarters, the AFL has done everything right with these two clubs. Rivers of money, salary cap co…

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