GWS chairman Tony Shepherd says the Giants are two years ahead of schedule, but will need to make finals forever to satisfy the Sydney sporting public.
The AFL’s youngest club will play their first final in their fifth year, when they face cross-town rivals Sydney in Saturday’s qualifier at ANZ Stadium, the same venue and opponent for the Giants’ very first game in 2012.
“We’re ahead of where we expected,” Shepherd told AAP at the Giants’ headquarters in Olympic Park on the eve of the game.
“I would have said when we got into the competition five yeas ago, 2017 in the finals and 2018, but maybe top four if everything goes well, and everything has gone well.”
Shepherd recognises GWS will need to match the consistency of the Swans, who have made finals 14 of the last 15 years, if the Giants are to command their share of a Sydney market crowded by four football codes.
“We’ve had early success but we’ve got to stay in the finals forever, frankly, if we’re going to win, because Sydney likes winners – we don’t want losers in Sydney,” Shepherd said.
“I think it will take us and the AFL working together at the community level 20 years to put down deep roots.
“It took the Swans 30 years to put down deep roots, and they’ve done a great job, no argument there.
“Because they’ve been the ice breaker, it will take us a little less.”
Shepherd has watched his club grow from humble origins when their administration was based in two rooms at a local RSL club.
“Then we moved into demountables at Blacktown and we thought we’d arrived and they were pretty basic,” Shepherd recalled.
“We didn’t have a full-time training oval, we had to travel around western sydney getting training done and then we moved into this (Olympic Park HQ) and this is nirvana really.”