Greater Western Sydney Giants are set for their third season and it looms like a critical one for AFL’s new chums.
Their coach Leon Cameron, in his first year in charge, has a simple mantra: No Excuses.
Cameron takes over from foundation coach Kevin Sheedy, an icon of the game. It’s a hard act to follow.
He knows winning plenty of games is paramount.
The AFL public and the wider community gave them grace and understandably so, in their first two years in the big time.
It’s hard building a professional sporting club from scratch. In rugby league the Canberra Raiders, formed in 1982, took four years to make the finals, and in 1987 made a grand final losing to Manly. They won their first title in 1989.
The AFL financed and established GWS in 2008 to the tune of $100 million, four years before their entry into the AFL competition.
In 2012, the Giants won two games and only one in 2013. In 2014 they will need to do better. A handful of wins won’t suffice.
Having been originally based at Blacktown when they set up the club, the Greater Western Sydney Giants have now moved to Sydney Olympic Park at a brand new training centre with a vast playing field, gymnasium and administration offices under one roof.
But there is no time to lose and say ‘‘we are building for the future.’’
The Giants need to stand tall and deliver.
No one in their right mind is expecting the Giants to make the top eight or threaten for the title this year or next season, but being competitive is essential. And not getting flogged crucial.
Finishing last or second last in the 18 team AFL premiership won’t be accepted by the public and the Giants management.
The Giants have a raft of sporting club competitors.
Their first hurdle is the Sydney Swans.
Unlike the Giants who started from scratch, they were a transferred team, formerly South Melbourne, setting up in the harbour city in 1982.
They had their lean years until finding consistency, making the finals in the mid to late eighties and in the 1990s. A grand final berth in 1996 was followed with premierships in 2005 and 2012.
There is a battle royale for the Sydney AFL marketplace between the Giants and Swans.
But GWS are also in competition with gun soccer newcomers, the Western Sydney Wanderers, as well as NRL powerhouse, the Penrith Panthers.
The Giants will need good results to maintain a strong media profile, otherwise they will be overshadowed by the Wanderers, who won the A-League premiership in their first season and the ambitious Panthers.
Penrith not only has a strong league following but it also has Phil Gould, a powerful league figure with fingers in many pies.
But despite all the challenges, the ball is in the Giants’ court. They just got to remember that most fans are fickle and impatient, and most of all love winners.