Swans’ skipper Kieren Jack is expecting the first Sydney AFL finals derby will ignite passion in a new generation of Australian rules fans, like he experienced in another big match in the city 13 years ago,
A crowd of close to 60,000 is expected to attend the 11th and most significant Sydney derby yet.
The last Australian rules match at ANZ Stadium, between minor premiers Sydney and maiden finalist and fourth-placed GWS, is set to give the code it’s biggest push in the harbour city for many years.
Jack likens its potential to another massive game he attended at the same venue as a 16-year-old in 2003.
In front of 71,019 spectators, the Swans lost to the mighty Brisbane Lions, who in the next match would complete a hat-trick of premiership wins.
“I can still vividly recall going to a Sydney Swans-Brisbane Lions preliminary final in 2003 and that’s what ignites the passion,” Jack said.
“For a lot of young kids and supporters out there it will ignite some passion this weekend.”
Jack is encouraged by the progress Australian rules is making in a city that was initially resistant to its charms.
“It’s clearly still behind some of the major codes, but we’re starting to see some real inroads,” Jack said.
“From the junior level all the way up and the academies are doing that, so it’s very promising I think.”
However, he doesn’t expect his code of choice to supplant rugby league, the sport in which his father Garry excelled, as the leading football code in Sydney.
“It would be pretty tough, I would have thought,” he said.
“It (Sydney) is a very competitive market, but what you are doing is allowing young kids now with different choices.
“I think the facilities and the infrastructure that the AFL are putting in place will only encourage more kids to go down that path, so who knows where it will end up in 10, 20 years’ time.”