Right from the get go I want to let anyone reading this article know that I was born in Penrith, I was raised in Mt Druitt and I went to high school in Blacktown. I’ve lived my entire life in Western Sydney so I think its fair to say that I understand the people of Western Sydney.
That is the difference between myself and Kevin Sheedy, a 65 year old AFL coach that was born in Victoria.
You see, Kevin Sheedy was chosen to head up the Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL team. Apparently he was the best person to try and sell AFL to people in Western Sydney, like me.
It all started off with some bullshit, make believe story about how the man that helped supposedly make AFL and how he was in Parramatta for a very short period of time. That made AFL a game of Western Sydney, apparently. Of course, the people of Western Sydney were a bit bemused by this, but at that stage most of us were not paying attention anyway.
Then, Blacktown City Council was sucked in to building the AFL a training ground. This really pissed people off. Millions of dollars were spent on a venue that was always going to be a white elephant. A venue for a sporting team that was always going to be based at Homebush. Blacktown City Council spend millions dollars of rate payers money on what is now a stadium used for the occasional pre-season AFL match, and schoolboy matches.
As all of this was going on we had Kevin Sheedy shuffling from place to place telling us, the people of Western Sydney, who we are, where we come from and what we value. It wore thin very quickly…
The AFL then went out and spent million of dollars to get a poster child for Western Sydney in Israel Folau. A Queensland Rugby League representative was all of a sudden being sold as “One of you guys”. Not a great start. We then had the AFL cynically using Folau try to can draw in Polynesian supporters and players to the game, because apparently when Polynesians saw one of their own playing AFL they would flock to the game!
As the AFL’s Giants team based itself further and further east, they kept trying to sell the game in Western Sydney where no one had any interest in the sport what so ever. It was almost as though the AFL itself forgot that the Sydney Swans had existed in Sydney for decades, that they had barely carved out a niche for themselves, and that people in Western Sydney have televisions and cars and the ability to travel to the SCG is we wanted!
To their credit, the Sydney Swans kept telling the AFL that they were going about this all wrong. The AFL didn’t listen though. People in Melbourne knew all about Western Sydney, you just had to ask them….
As Israel Folau ran around in front of tiny crowds, looking malnourished and completely miserable, the AFL kept trying to sell the game to Sydney with hilarious concepts like “The Battle of The Bridge”.
Meanwhile at Parramatta, the people of Western Sydney finally had a soccer team of our own. This was something we actually wanted! You didn’t have to make up playing figures in Western Sydney like the AFL had at junior level….soccer has had huge playing numbers in Western Sydney for decades!
So the Western Sydney Wanderers were born, and boy were they a success!
In contrast the AFL’s Greater Western Sydney Giants were completely anonymous. They played in front of tiny crowds. They made zero impact in the sports news cycle.
Of course, AFL types couldn’t handle this. Something was wrong, and it couldn’t be the fact that no one liked the game! I mean, AFL has taken over such far flung places as Adelaide and Perth. Why were the people of Western Sydney, one of the great cities of the world, paying no attention what so ever?
Kevin Sheedy knows why:
“We don’t have the recruiting officer called the immigration department recruiting fans for the West Sydney Wanderers. We don’t have that on our side.”
And THAT is what it all comes down to!
You see, to the AFL all of us Western Sydney people are just a bunch of poor immigrants We all come here carrying a sack, we struggle from day to day just to survive and we should all thank the AFL for giving us a distraction from our miserable lives!
Well I’m sorry Kevin, but your ignorant racist view of us will not be tolerated. You can scamper back to your AFL mates in Melbourne and get a cushy ride on the back of your comments, but people in Western Sydney remember this shit! We don’t suffer fools, we don’t buy into bullshit and we sure as hell won’t put up with some shuffling 65 year old man from Melbourne telling everyone he represents us while as the same time writing us off as “just a bunch of immigrants”!
Western Sydney is a proud region that consists of people that come from every corner of the planet. We are a melting pot, but not one that needs to beat our chest or feel the need to be help up as an example to anyone else. Its just who we are. We don’t know any different.
We are not a marketing tool. We are not demographics that the AFL can use at will. We know what we like, and we know what we don’t like.
We like Rugby League and Soccer. We don’t like AFL. It has nothing to do with race or background or anything else.
Western Sydney people don’t suffer fools and we don’t buy into bullshit. Without a winning team playing a sport we actually like, that is all that Kevin Sheedy and the AFL has to sell us.
And they wonder why it isn’t working….