No crowd, no worries for GWS
Greater Western Sydney are confident they can perform in front of what looms as the biggest crowd in their seven-year history after hosting the smallest VFL-AFL finals attendance in 101 years.
The Giants’ 67-point semifinal caning of West Coast on Saturday night at Spotless Stadium was witnessed by just 14,865 fans, the smallest finals crowd since Fitzroy and Collingwood drew just under 10,000 to an MCG semifinal in 1916.
Next Saturday’s preliminary final between the Giants and resurgent Richmond is expected to draw at least 80,000 fans.
That would easily eclipse the previous best crowd for a Giants game of 60,222 who watched the allsydney qualifying final against the Swans last year at ANZ Stadium.
News.com.au reported former Tigers legend Matthew Richardson as saying: ‘‘It [next Saturday’s game] will be the most one-sided crowd in the history of the game.’’
GWS coach Leon Cameron and his players are adamant their club can deal with an overwhelmingly hostile audience in addition to a red-hot Richmond side hungry for a first flag in 37 years.
‘‘As soon as that ball bounces, it doesn’t matter whether there’s 85,000 Richmond supporters and 10 or 15 Giants supporters, it’s got nothing to do with the result,’’ Cameron said.
‘‘The result will be determined by who has the best 22 on the day.’’
Cameron said there was no way to prepare his players for the kind of atmosphere they would face next Saturday, but pointed out they had won in front of big, hostile away crowds.
‘We’ve won games in Perth this year. We’ve won games in places that no doubt the crowd is bigger than our home crowd,’’ he said.
‘‘But our guys are absolutely
itching to get to the MCG.
‘‘We’ve come in a different way this year. Last year we were the ones that obviously had to wait.
‘‘But I can’t see our players worrying about the support the opposition will have because a lot of these guys are just born to play on the MCG in finals.’’
Among the reasons being touted for Saturday’s small attendance, which was lower than the home and away crowd of 15,751 for the two clubs at the same venue four weeks earlier, was the evening start time and higher ticket prices for finals.
The NRL finals game between Parramatta and North Queensland held simultaneously down the road at ANZ Stadium attracted almost three times the crowd.
Also in western Sydney earlier on Saturday, the Matildas’ football international against Brazil at Penrith pulled a slightly bigger attendance than the AFL finals match.
Steve Johnson, left, and Tim Taranto of the GWS Giants celebrate a goal during their win over the West Coast Eagles.