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Government pumps cash but no heart into Canberra’s adopted team

Lachlan Roberts 30 September 2019 93
GWS Giants

For the last eight seasons, the GWS Giants have played a total of 24 ‘home’ games at Manuka Oval. Photo: Supplied.

As I was driving into work early on Friday morning, I counted five different people wearing lime green jerseys as anticipation reached a fever pitch for the Canberra Raiders-South Sydney preliminary final at GIO Stadium that night.

In recognition of the Raiders’ biggest match in nearly two decades, the buildup throughout the week had been extraordinary.

Canberra landmarks, including Telstra Tower, the Carillon and Captain Cook Jet, took on a green hue. Canberra Metro staff were seen wearing green wigs and waving giant fingers in support of Canberra’s team. Even our food changed colour.

You could be forgiven for forgetting that Canberra actually had another team in a grand final that weekend.

Flying under the radar, as they had all season, Canberra’s adopted team, the GWS Giants, were quietly down in Melbourne preparing for their first AFL grand final with very little fanfare.

If it hadn’t of been for four kids decked in orange scarfs and beanies playing the Giants’ anthem in the middle of Northbourne Avenue, and a few cafes putting up orange posters in a sign of support, you might have totally missed Canberra’s slice of history.

There was a clear lack of “a big, big sound coming from Canberra town”.

There's a big, big sound…from all over Canberra town ?With only two sleeps to go until our GWS Giants dance in the #AFLGF, we took to the streets for a #GIANT cuppa thanks to Harvest Coffee and Gus' Place. #wearecbr

Posted by AFL Canberra on Thursday, 26 September 2019

Eight years ago, the ACT Government signed a decade-long $23 million deal with an Aussie Rules club in the western suburbs of Sydney to play three of their regular-season home games at Manuka Oval each year.

Eyebrows were raised at the bulging payslip the team would receive to call Canberra their second home. Some fans were critical of the deal, particularly given the per-year funding is more than the Raiders and Brumbies receive.

But a supporter base for the Giants started to slowly build across the city, as Manuka Oval stands started to fill with Canberrans in orange beanies and more and more locals signed up to memberships.

And here we are, eight years later, with our adopted team making it to the last day of the AFL season and the ACT Government deep into negotiations to extended the partnership with the GWS Giants. The nation’s capital was even represented on the hallowed turf of the MCG on Saturday afternoon with Canberra stitched into the back of the Giants’ jerseys.

So where was the ACT Government’s support to our adopted team during the biggest week of their eight-year existence? While the excitement about the Green Machine inexorably rose, where was the love for our adopted son?

The millions of dollars the government has poured into the Giants has put bums on seats but where is the heart that helps turn part-time fans into passionate supporters?

Maybe it just takes time to slowly learn to love them like one of our own, but Canberra may never really love its adopted team as much as their biological one unless more effort is put in.


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93 Responses to Government pumps cash but no heart into Canberra’s adopted team
Archie Mac Archie Mac 6:27 pm 01 Oct 19

There was a fair bit of support on GF day - plenty of Giant colours in local pubs and clubs

Nic Cortese Nic Cortese 3:03 pm 01 Oct 19

Lol. Canberra Raiders - everybody's second team only since they were going to play Storm or Roosters in a Grand Final 😂

Capital Retro 12:26 pm 01 Oct 19
Adam Vinning Adam Vinning 7:47 am 01 Oct 19

Because they get paid to play 4 games a year at Manuka whilst the Raiders started in QBN since 1982 before moving to Bruce in 1990?

JJ Thomas JJ Thomas 11:59 pm 30 Sep 19

Because Canberra has long been an NRL and Soccer capital, all the AFL people in Canberra are established and supporting their own teams. Also, AFL supporters are more die hard!

Seamus Farrell Seamus Farrell 9:25 pm 30 Sep 19

Lisa Telford backing Carlton in 2020? Just teasing Canberra is really Western Western Sydney🥳

Ashley Keaveney Ashley Keaveney 5:05 pm 30 Sep 19

Because they're plastic...

Mark Bundy Mark Bundy 1:37 pm 30 Sep 19

Every number one draft pick for a decade and they still cant win

    Cathy Cashion Cathy Cashion 3:07 pm 30 Sep 19

    Mark Bundy Not really a decade - only been playing since 2012, and only 3 number 1 draft picks

    Mark Bundy Mark Bundy 4:20 pm 30 Sep 19

    Cathy Cashion theyhad them before they entered the comp

bj_ACT 12:45 pm 30 Sep 19

I think the average Canberran appreciates Sia Soliola as a regular at the homeless shelter, Ricky Stuart working very hard for Autism and the new Pommy guys talking up Canberra as a great place to live and work.

The GWS support into Canberra feels like it’s based on $23 million in ACT Government funding, not based on a connection to the city and it’s people.

    Annette Jamieson 8:45 pm 30 Sep 19

    Agree 100%. Paying a team to play in Canberra doesn’t make it a local team. The Raiders give a lot back to the community. GWS costs us but gives us little.

Alex Smorhun 12:37 pm 30 Sep 19

Cannot believe the authors article. The Giant’s games at manuka oval are mostly always a sellout. They got 12,000 in the most bitter night with snow, freezing wind and constant rain a few weeks ago. Canberra Raiders last home and away game against the warriors drew only 13,000 in perfect weather. The Giants are only going to get bigger and as proven Canberra has embraced this team.

    chewy14 3:20 pm 30 Sep 19

    Haha, you’re joking right?

    The Giants average crowd this year in Canberra was 11800, when the ground can fit 15000. And a large proportion of the crowd are always going for the opposition, most of Canberra couldn’t care less about the Frankenstein GWS team.

    The Raiders average in 2019 over far more games (which should disadvantage them) was 14800.

    GWS in Canberra is just Andrew Barr using taxpayers money to feed his own personal love of AFL.

    Capital Retro 1:46 pm 01 Oct 19

    Oh yes, there was a record on that night being the defeat suffered by GWS.

    How many of the 12,000 there actually paid for a ticket? I have asked for details on this but no one is willing to fess up.

Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 12:18 pm 30 Sep 19

Would have been better if they had actually turned up ready to play. What a let down. They weren’t ready to be grand finalists!

Capital Retro 11:22 am 30 Sep 19

“Manuka Oval is almost always a sellout for the Giants matches. Lots of GWS members live in Canberra and attended the grand final.”

Probably more Richmond supporters in Canberra that GWS members. Our CM supports Hawthorn I think.

Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 10:56 am 30 Sep 19

Australian rules football was very popular in canberra in the sixties.When the league decided to relocate the swans,it shouldve been to Canberra .This was a long time before the raiders.The raiders were established and canberra kids wear the green and support rugby league.The VFL missed a golden opportunity

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 10:49 am 30 Sep 19

Because you're either a Canberra team in Canberra, or you're not. Same happened with the pseudo soccer team, died in the arse because of the half arsed Government and sponsored efforts.

Raelene Davies Raelene Davies 10:43 am 30 Sep 19

Manuka Oval is almost always a sellout for the Giants matches. Lots of GWS members live in Canberra and attended the grand final.

Daniel Königs Daniel Königs 10:21 am 30 Sep 19

I’d call them exhibition games in Canberra rather than a Canberra team playing local games.

James Strang James Strang 9:33 am 30 Sep 19

Pretty easy to stick the boot in when they've just lost the grand final. I won't waste my time explaining the time and support the Giants have provided to my junior club in Belconnen. But hey, ratepayers money, grumble grumble whinge etc.

Personally I have no interest in rugby league but I'll be watching and hoping for a Raiders win.

Peter Bee Peter Bee 9:24 am 30 Sep 19

They are not called the Canberra Giants

Kerry Floros Kerry Floros 9:23 am 30 Sep 19

Let the Swans come back for some games.🔴⚪️🔴⚪️

Jenny Cleave Jenny Cleave 9:00 am 30 Sep 19

Why would I want to get passionate about a Greater Western SYDNEY team? I am a Canberran!

    Jon Billows Jon Billows 3:40 pm 30 Sep 19

    yet more people go and support the Giants games than the Brumbies games...

    Jenny Cleave Jenny Cleave 5:44 pm 30 Sep 19

    Jon Billows to each his own. In my case, I do not like any form of rugby. Now if there was a real Cbr AFL team.....

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