GWS Giants football general manager Wayne Campbell says suggestions outside NSW that his side are being fast tracked to an AFL flag are a parochial, knee jerk reaction.
Saturday’s match-up at Spotless Stadium is being widely portrayed as a clash between a traditional Victorian club that has had to battle for everything and a young NSW upstart given every possible advantage by a governing body desperate to see it succeed.
Campbell, who played 15 seasons for Richmond and worked with the Tigers before off-field roles with the Bulldogs and AFL before joining the Giants in late March, is well-placed to assess all sides of the story.
Asked if he thought people outside Sydney focused on the AFL’s input as a reason for the Giants’ success rather than their own on and off-field efforts Campbell said: “Yeah, I think generally people just go to the quickest answer that comes into their head.
“‘With footy you’re always parochial, I suppose, so you forgive your own team and get into the other team and basically you get into them for the first thing that comes to mind.
“I think anyone from wherever they live have seen the Giants have been building over a period of time, that they’ve managed to establish a good list and some good people looking after them.
“There’s no secret to the recipe. Get some good coaches, get good conditioning, get some good medical, then mix some good players with that and you hopefully get a good product down the end and that’s what the Giants have been able to do.”
Campbell spent two seasons at the Bulldogs as an assistant coach to Rodney Eade in 2007-08.
He doesn’t begrudge the wave of positive sentiment enveloping the Dogs after their stirring finals wins against West Coast and Hawthorn, but isn’t sure the battlers tag is till appropriate.
“I’m not sure whether they are (still) the battling club, they sort of always were,” Campbell said.
“But I think they almost shed that image when they became the Western Bulldogs (in 1996) and they took on a new sort of persona.
“They’ve got 40,000 members, so they are a pretty big club now, that plays in front of big crowds as you saw last Friday night with 87,000 going,.
“I think the fact they were able to knock over (Hawthorn) the dominant team of the last ten years, certainly the last four or five, I think people’s affection for them is reasonably natural I would have thought.”