A young Max Margan was plagued for playing Australian Rules football and following his beloved Sydney Swans in the & # 39; Gay FL & # 39;
Australian Rules football was on its knees in Sydney in the early 1990s – a & # 39; girl game & # 39; that tried to make its mark on a solid rugby area.
In those days you found it hard to find a suburban oval with four poles at each end, from Bondi to Blacktown, while children knocked over the idea of a Sherrin.
At that time I was a child, a die-hard Swan supporter. But even then, I was very aware that the club I loved – and the AFL in general – were Sydney's sporting laughing stock.
& # 39; Follow a real sport & # 39 ;, my competition-obsessed primary schoolmates would say. & # 39; Gay FL is shameful, it's a game for fairies. & # 39;
In all honesty, the crowd drew the swans in those years to the Sydney Cricket Ground goods embarrassing.
My father and I mocked the official presentations on the big screen above the old hill – in the worst case 4,000, at most 10,000 – when we couldn't see much more than a few hundred across the stands.
On some occasions the footy was launched from the target field to the Noble Stand – where we sat for 14 consecutive seasons – I would often have to jump row after row of empty seats to swing it from the back to the field, leaving the top layer.
It was that empty. They needed an eight-year-old child to act as a ball boy in a vast, abandoned position during a game at the highest level of the game.
Max Margan and his father mocked the official presentations on the big screen above the old hill at the SCG – in the worst case 4,000, in the best case 10,000 – when they couldn't see much more than a few hundred in the stands. Swans fans are shown in 1993
& # 39; Follow a real sport, & # 39; Max Margan & # 39; s told primary school mates obsessed with the competition. & # 39; Gay FL is shameful, it's a game for fairies. & # 39; Margan has remained loyal to the swans over the years
The Giants are no longer flogged every week in an empty home stadium and play on Saturday in their first Grand Final after only seven years in the AFL, writes Margan
In 1993 I went to a footy clinic in Kmart and was the only boy there who had any idea who the Swans players were.
The marketing campaign of the AFL in Sydney at the time, with & # 39; Australian Rules, Rules Australia & # 39 ;, had clearly not caught the attention of the city.
The fact that the swans lost 26 games in a row during the 1992 and 1993 seasons probably didn't help. The club got three consecutive wooden spoons from 1992.
Former CEO of Ron Swans told The Age how those times were a few years ago.
& # 39; They would have eight goals at halftime and people would stand up and kick them off the ground, & # 39; said Joseph.
But how things change. Head coach Ron Barassi came to the club in 1993 and brought in champion players Tony Lockett and Paul Roos in 1995.
The swans were a basket suitcase until the early nineties. The appointment of football legend Ron Barassi (photo) as a coach in 1993 helped to turn the club's performance on the pitch
Swan players Dale Lewis and Daniel MacPherson are crushed after losing the 1996 Grand Final against the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the MCG. Better times would come
Margan today with his son Harry, the next generation of supporters of Sydney Swans
Paul Kelly, the & # 39; Captain Courageous & # 39; from the club, won the Brownlow medal the same year.
The victories came with a talented roster and with more wins the audience grew at the SCG. Sydneysiders have always loved a winner.
Since 1996, the swans have only missed four final series in 24 seasons. Premierships came in 2005 and 2012.
AFL crowds at the SCG have blown those of their cross-code rivals out of the water for years – and when the swans reach the final, they also hold out in the ratings.
Now the time of the GWS Giants has arrived.
The Giants have gone from being flogged every week in an empty home stadium to playing Saturday in their first Grand Final after just seven years in the AFL.
The club's extraordinary success has destroyed pompous footy traditionalists in Melbourne, just as they were when the Swans became a real powerhouse.
Max Margan goes to a footy clinic in a Kmart in 1993. He doubts all other rugby league-loving children who even knew who the swans were. On the right, star ahead is Richard Osborne
Head coach Ron Barassi joined the swans in 1993 and two years later Paul Roos (left) and Tony Lockett (right) had the red and white. Roos and Locket became legends of the Sydney club
The critics claim that the concept choices of concessions and salary limits – both reality – undermine the integrity and fairness of the game.
They see the club as an AFL cash game for companies without real fans or history.
& # 39; Some fans see them as a plastic club, manufactured by the AFL for commercial reasons with few fans, no history and empty stands & # 39 ;, sports teacher Sam Duncan recently wrote.
Although that may be largely true, they miss the point.
The AFL wants to go and has almost achieved a real national competition. That is one of the big selling points of the game.
So two teams in the largest and most densely populated city in the country are more than reasonable (although I don't have teams in the Northern Territory and Tasmania).
& # 39; I also hate the giants, & # 39; writes Max Margan. & # 39; Not because I don't want them in the competition, but because I have a team whose rivalry with the swans could someday match that of Collingwood and Carlton. Giants fans are shown on the MCG for a training session on Friday
The vast majority of footy fans on Saturday will hope that the Tigers are the & # 39; most hated team in the & # 39; flog.
And here is the kicker: I am one of them.
I also hate the Giants, not because I don't want them in the competition, but because I want a team whose real rivalry with the swans could someday match that of Carlton and Collingwood.
And I want Sydney sports enthusiasts who have not yet come to hear that AFL is not a & # 39; game for fairies & # 39; is.
A Giants flag, if it goes, will go a long way – bringing the game a legion of new young fans and much older bandwagon supporters.
But it doesn't have to happen yet.
This Sydneysider bursts out for Richmond on Saturday. And every team that plays the Giants – except West Coast – for the coming years.
Max Margan bursts out for Richmond on Saturday. And every team that plays the Giants – except West Coast next year. Depicted is the 1996 grand finale, which Sydney lost to North
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