|AFL Women||10/30 06:10||10|| GWS Women v Gold Coast Women ||44-32|
|AFL Women||10/23 04:10||9|| Richmond Women v GWS Women ||58-15|
|AFL Women||10/16 04:10||8|| GWS Women v Hawthorn Women ||34-33|
|AFL Women||10/09 06:10||7|| Collingwood Women v GWS Women ||46-14|
|AFL Women||10/01 02:10||6|| GWS Women v Carlton Women ||29-12|
|AFL Women||09/25 05:10||5|| Adelaide Women v GWS Women ||97-1|
|AFL Women||09/17 01:10||4|| GWS Women v West Coast Women ||9-16|
|AFL Women||09/10 04:40||3|| Sydney Women v GWS Women ||18-65|
|AFL Women||09/04 05:10||2|| GWS Women v Brisbane Women ||20-67|
|AFL Women||08/28 02:10||1|| Western Bulldogs Women v GWS Women ||41-34|
|AFL Women||03/11 07:10||10|| Geelong Women v GWS Women ||35-53|
|AFL Women||03/05 06:10||9|| GWS Women v Richmond Women ||38-46|
The Greater Western Sydney Giants (officially the Greater Western Sydney Football Club and colloquially known as the GWS Giants or simply GWS) are a professional Australian rules football team based in Sydney Olympic Park, which represents the Greater Western Sydney region of New South Wales and Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
The Giants compete in the Australian Football League (AFL), and entered the league in 2012 as the competition's 18th active club. The club train at the WestConnex Centre in the Olympic Park and play most home matches at Sydney Showground Stadium, also located within the Olympic Park precinct. In addition it plays four home matches per season at Manuka Oval in Canberra as part of a deal with the ACT Government.
The Giants commenced competing in the AFL in March 2012. Despite struggling initially in the competition and claiming two consecutive wooden spoons, the club reached finals for the first time in 2016 and qualified for its first Grand Final in 2019, where they were defeated by Richmond by 89 points.
The Giants operate three other teams outside of the AFL. The club has fielded a team in the AFL Women's league since 2017 and a reserves team in the Victorian Football League (VFL) since 2021; the latter participated in the North East Australian Football League until that competition was dissolved in 2020. A netball team, known as Giants Netball, competes in the Suncorp Super Netball.
The idea of an AFL team from western Sydney originated from the AFL's plans in 1999 to make the North Melbourne Football Club Sydney's second team. Following the momentum of the relocated Swans Grand Final appearance, the AFL had backed the move for North Melbourne, a club which had then previously gained market exposure by defeating the Swans in their first re-location Grand Final appearance. However, the venture was unsuccessful and after several games a season North Melbourne never managed to draw crowds of over 15,000 at the Sydney Cricket Ground before finally leaving the market for Canberra and later the Gold Coast.
The AFL's interest in the Western Sydney market appeared to be rekindled after the Sydney Swans' second, more successful Grand Final appearance in 2005. In 2006, the AFL introduced the NSW Scholarships scheme also known as the Talented Player Program (TPP), primarily aimed at juniors in West Sydney market to foster home grown talent and produce AFL players, a region which despite its large and growing population, had prior to the program, produced few professional Australian Footballers. The AFL was buoyed when it gained the support of then NSW premier Morris Iemma in late 2006, and the league became a partner in the Blacktown sporting facility in Rooty Hill, New South Wales. The facility was announced as the new home base for its team out of western Sydney in 2007; it announced that it had planned to grant its 18th licence in mid to late 2008. In January 2008, the AFL officially registered the business name Western Sydney Football Club Ltd with ASIC.
In March 2008, it was revealed by the media that the AFL had considered a radical proposal to launch an Irish-dominated team in Sydney's western suburbs, which would perform before an international audience under the "Celtic" brand name. At the time, the Irish Experiment was peaking with numerous Irish players in the AFL. The "Sydney Celtics" plan was first put to AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou in early 2007 by Gaelic Players Association executive Donal O'Neill. It was said that the proposal originated at the International Rules series in Ireland in late 2006 when O'Neill put forward a plan to purchase an AFL licence in Sydney. The idea had been boosted by the hype generated by Tadgh Kennelly's appearance for Sydney in the AFL Grand Final, having become one of the club's better locally known players. However, the idea never materialised and the AFL has since stated that this was never a serious option.
In March 2008, the AFL won the support of the league's 16 club presidents to establish an eighteenth side in Western Sydney. The Western Sydney working party devising player rules and draft concessions for the second Sydney team met on 22 July 2008.
During 2008, the AFL Commission, whose agenda was to make a final decision on the Western Sydney Football Club, delayed it on multiple occasions. During the same year, in November, the AFL announced a A$100 million venture to redevelop a stadium originally built for baseball at the Sydney Olympics, into a boutique AFL stadium at the Sydney Showground, in the city's west.
After a third meeting in Sydney in November, the AFL cited the Economic crisis of 2008 as being a key factor in the delays. While the AFL reiterated its stance on the Western Sydney licence, the commission admitted that the delay in the decision was due to financial remodelling of the bid in response to the crisis, and conceded that the debut of the team in the AFL may eventuate one or more seasons later than initially suggested. The expansion licence drew increasing media scepticism and public criticism, particularly in the light of a poor finals attendance in Sydney, declining Sydney Swans attendances and memberships, the economic crisis and the Tasmanian AFL Bid which had gained significant momentum and public support during 2008. An Australian Senate enquiry into the Tasmanian AFL Bid concluded that Sydney had "insurmountable cultural barriers" to the establishment of a second AFL team.
In May 2009, AIS/AFL Academy coach Alan McConnell was appointed as the club's high performance manager. McConnell was the first full-time appointment for GWS and his new role commenced on 1 July 2009. Kevin Sheedy was appointed inaugural coach in November 2009, signing a three-year contract. His role commenced on 2 February 2010. His first senior assistant coach was former premiership coach of Port Adelaide, Mark Williams. Williams left the role at the conclusion of 2012, in order to become a development coach at the Richmond Tigers.
In November 2010 Skoda Australia was announced as the team's first major sponsor, signing a three-year contract which included naming rights to the team's home ground at the Sydney Showground. SpotJobs became a sponsor in March 2015. They featured on the back of the Giants' playing guernseys for home matches in Sydney and Canberra and on the front of the guernseys for all the team's away games for that year only. Currently, Virgin Australia, Toyo Tyres and St. George bank are the main sponsors, along with apparel partner, Puma.
On 4 October 2012, Greater Western Sydney confirmed Leon Cameron as its new senior assistant coach for 2013. This role expanded to Senior Coach which he held for nine years before resigning from his position in May 2022.
In 2007 the NSW government, Blacktown City Council, Cricket NSW and the AFL agreed to the development of an AFL/Cricket centre at Blacktown International Sportspark at a cost of $27.5 million. The agreement between Blacktown City Council and the AFL was an 84-year (21 x 4) agreement. The breakdown of contributors of funding was the NSW Government $15 million, Blacktown City Council $6.75m, Cricket NSW $2.875 million and AFL $2.875 million.
The development included;
Blacktown International Sports centre was officially opened on 22 August 2009.
On 15 April 2012, the Giants played their first and only regular season AFL premiership game against West Coast Eagles in front of a crowd of 6,875 at Blacktown International Sportspark. The final score being Giants 10-9-69 – Eagles 23-12-150.
In April 2013, an $11.6 million redevelopment of a former golf driving range into a new AFL training ground and multicultural community education centre commenced, signalling the relocation of GWS to the suburb of Sydney Olympic Park. Greater Western Sydney Giants presence at the complex from 2010 to 2014 was concluded with the movement of the senior team 27 km east to Sydney Olympic Park. This move was supported by the NSW Government which spent an additional $45 million to upgrade the Sydney Showground Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park providing a new home for the Western Sydney AFL team.
|Year||Draft picks||Senior list size||Salary cap allowance||Zone access||Notes|
|The club was allowed to sign up to twelve 17-year-olds born between 1 January and 30 April 1993. The club also received the first 8 picks in the rookie draft.|
|2012||1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15
|50||$1,000,000 extra||4 NSW
|At the conclusion of the 2011 season the club was able to sign up to 16 current AFL players who were uncontracted for the 2012 season. The club was also allowed to sign up to 10 players who had previously elected for the national draft and weren't selected.|
|2013||MD: 1,2||50||$1,000,000 extra||4 NSW
|At the conclusion of the 2012 season the club was able to sign up to 16 current AFL players who were uncontracted for the 2013 season. The club was also allowed to sign up to 10 players who had previously elected for the national draft and weren't selected.|
|2014||AFL Standard||50||$1,000,000 extra||AFL Standard||-|
|2015||AFL Standard||48||$880,000 extra||AFL Standard||-|
|2016||AFL Standard||46||$760,000 extra||AFL Standard||-|
|2017||AFL Standard||44||AFL standard||AFL Standard||-|
|2018||AFL Standard||42||AFL standard||AFL Standard||-|
|2019||AFL Standard||AFL standard||AFL standard||AFL standard||All concessions removed and the club operates like every other team in the AFL.|
The entry concessions ended up being removed ahead of schedule at the end of the 2016 AFL season.
Greater Western Sydney were provided with similar recruitment entitlements to the Gold Coast who had entered the AFL the year before the Giants. Key differences included that their access to an uncontracted player from each other AFL club was able to be acted on in either 2011 or 2012. The club was also allocated the ability to trade up to four selections in a "mini-draft" of players born between January and April 1994, that would otherwise not be eligible to be drafted until the 2012 AFL Draft. They also were given the first selection in each round of the 2011 AFL Draft as well as selections 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15 in the first round of the draft.
The 2011 Trade Week saw the Giants take part in nine trades, involving two selections in the mini-draft as well trading away players who had previously nominated for the draft in return for additional early draft selections in the 2011 AFL Draft, that resulted in them holding the first five draft selections and 11 of the first 14.
During the 2011 season, there was much speculation about which uncontracted players would sign with the Giants. In August 2011, Adelaide defender Phil Davis became the first player to announce that he would sign with the new club. During 2011, four more AFL listed players announced they would be playing for the Giants in 2012 – Bulldogs midfielders Callan Ward and Sam Reid, Fremantle midfielder Rhys Palmer and Melbourne midfielder Tom Scully.
Former Melbourne Captain James McDonald, Brisbane veteran Luke Power and Port Adelaide ruckman Dean Brogan and midfielder Chad Cornes came out of retirement to play for the Giants in 2012. McDonald and Power took on roles as playing Assistant Coaches.
Greater Western Sydney also recruited Israel Folau, a former professional rugby league and rugby union footballer, from the Brisbane Broncos.
|Phil Davis||Adelaide||2 August 2011||One first-round draft pick.|
|Callan Ward||Western Bulldogs||5 September 2011||One first-round draft pick.|
|Rhys Palmer||Fremantle||6 September 2011||One end-of-first-round draft pick.|
|Tom Scully||Melbourne||12 September 2011||Two first-round draft picks.|
|Sam Reid||Western Bulldogs||13 October 2011||One third-round draft pick.|
Before entering the AFL, the club played in the TAC Cup in 2010 and North East Australian Football League in 2011, as well as the 2011 and 2012 AFL pre-season tournaments, and the 2011 Foxtel Cup.
The club played its first game in the Australian Football League on 24 March 2012 at ANZ Stadium in the inaugural Sydney Derby against the Sydney Swans which they lost by 63 points. On 12 May 2012 the club recorded its first win, defeating the Gold Coast Suns in a round 7 match by 13.16 (94) to 9.13 (67). The only other victory of the team's inaugural season was a 34-point win over Port Adelaide.
The Giants were to have numerous big losses, including five by over 100 points, beating the previous record of four set by Fitzroy in their final season, the Brisbane Bears in 1991, St Kilda in 1985 and Footscray in 1982. They lost four other games by over eighty points and finished with a percentage of 46.17, the lowest by any club since St Kilda, in 1955, had a percentage of 45.4 and, before that, Melbourne in 1919 with 43.0.
In their second season, Greater Western Sydney fared even worse than in their debut season. The Giants lost their first seventeen games, an ignominy suffered previously by Fremantle in 2001, St. Kilda in 1910 and seven teams who finished with an 0–18 record. The most recent of these VFL/AFL teams losing all eighteen games was Fitzroy in 1964. Greater Western Sydney's combined percentage for their first two seasons was indeed the lowest by any club since St. Kilda in 1901 and 1902. Furthermore, the Giants again lost five games by 100 points or more, repeating an ignominy from the debut season.
In round 19, they avoided becoming the fourteenth club in VFL and AFL history to finish a season winless, winning their solitary game for the season against Melbourne to snap a 21-game losing streak. Leading into the final round of the home and away season, Jeremy Cameron kicked 62 goals this season and was equal third in the race for the Coleman Medal, two goals behind leader Jarryd Roughead.
At the end of the season, coach Kevin Sheedy stood aside for Leon Cameron, who had been assistant to Sheedy in 2013. On 19 December 2013, it was announced that Sheedy had been appointed to the club's board. Club Chairman, Tony Shepherd, highlighted Sheedy's importance when he said, "In many ways Kevin Sheedy is the father of the Giants. He's been here from the start and has helped build the Giants."
Greater Western Sydney started their third season impressively winning two of their first three games, including beating their much-fancied cross-town rivals, the Sydney Swans 15.9 99 to 9.13 67 in their first round encounter at Spotless Stadium. They would eventually finish 16th (6 wins 16 losses), which was enough to avoid the Wooden Spoon for the first time. On 13 May 2014, Greater Western Sydney midfielder Toby Greene was charged with a number of offences including assault with a dangerous weapon and intentionally causing serious injury over an alleged assault in a Melbourne licensed venue the previous night.
Before the start of the 2015 AFL Season, the Giants managed to sign Ryan Griffen in addition to re-signing Jeremy Cameron. The club overall had a fairly successful season, finishing 11th with 11 Wins and 11 Losses, including a victory over eventual premiers, Hawthorn.
The Giants' fifth season was their best yet, as they recorded their first positive win–loss ratio (16 wins, 6 losses), qualified for their first finals series and finished 4th out of 18 teams on the ladder.
A major highlight of the Giants' 2016 season was their 75-point win over three-time reigning premiers Hawthorn in round 6. Although they had beaten the Hawks by ten points in 2015, and went into the rematch as favourites, a margin of this size was unexpected. They also recorded their largest average home crowd in a season so far (12,333), and new recruit Steve Johnson kicked 43 goals in his first year at the Giants. The Giants finished fourth on the ladder after round 23, which meant they secured a double chance for the upcoming finals series. With cross-town rivals the Sydney Swans finishing as minor premiers, the mechanics of the AFL finals system meant that the Giants would play their first final in their five-year history against the Swans in Sydney.
In their first final, the Swans hosted the Giants at Stadium Australia (ANZ Stadium), with 60,222 spectators attending the match; at the time, this was the largest ever crowd for a match involving the club. The Giants only fielded six players who had previously played an AFL final, conversely, the Swans had six players who were making their finals debut. After a close first half, forward Jeremy Cameron kicked three goals in a five-minute period during the third quarter, as the Giants won by 36 points. The win was marred by an incident involving Steve Johnson, in which he collided with Swan Josh Kennedy and was subsequently suspended for one match; this meant he missed the preliminary final.
Two weeks later, in the preliminary final, the Giants faced the Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium, competing for a place in the 2016 AFL Grand Final in only their fifth year. In a close affair, both physically and on the scoreboard, the Bulldogs were attempting to make their first Grand Final in 55 years, while the Giants were looking to capitalise on their recent strong form. The Bulldogs led for most of the first half and went into half-time with a nine-point lead. In the third quarter, the Giants kicked three goals to lead by 11 points, but by three-quarter-time their lead had been reduced to one point. Early in the fourth quarter, the Giants kicked two quick goals to lead by 14 points, but the Bulldogs would kick two goals in response to take the lead, and, after scores were level with five minutes of game time remaining, a goal from Jack Macrae saw the Bulldogs win the match by six points. After the match, coach Leon Cameron said that the pre-finals bye did not have any effect on the club's performance.
There was a lot of outside expectation on the club leading into 2017. A lot of the media were talking up the side as eventual premier, thanks to the clubs' run in the second half of 2016.
In the off season the club traded want-away player Cam McCarthy to Fremantle along with picks 7, 34 & 72 for pick 3 in the draft. Canberra academy player Jack Steele was traded to St Kilda for a future second round pick. Unlucky, but highly talented Paul Ahern was traded to North Melbourne for pick 69. Crowd favourite, Will Hoskin-Elliott, was traded to the Collingwood Football Club for a future second round pick. Continuing the clubs strong trading with Carlton Football Club, they offloaded, Caleb Marchbank, Jarrod Pickett (like Ahern a high draft pick who never played a game for the club) Rhys Palmer and the clubs' 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft for Geelong's first round pick in the 2017 draft and picks 45, 58 and 135. The club traded in Richmond player, and former first round draft pick, Brett Deledio using Geelong's first round pick acquired from Carlton and its own third round pick.
With its picks in the 2016 draft and the acquisition of Deledio via trade, the club added Tim Taranto, Will Setterfield (academy), Harry Perryman (academy), Isaac Cumming (academy), Lachlan Tiziani (academy) and Matt de Boer via the national draft, and another former de-listed Docker in Tendai M'Zungu in the Rookie Draft.
The club had an absolutely horrible run with injuries over the year yet somehow managed to scrape in to the Top 4. Josh Kelly had a breakout year, all the while weighing up a return to his fathers former club, North Melbourne, on a rumoured 7-year, $11,000,000 contract. He refused that offer and re-signed before the clubs' final series. The side yet again fell at the second last hurdle, once again losing to eventual premiers, Richmond Football Club in front of a crowd of 94,000, the biggest crowd the club has played in front of.
A hit-and-miss 2018 season saw the Giants finish seventh on the AFL ladder with 13 wins, eight losses and one draw. Despite losing just once in their first six games, they would go on to suffer a four-game losing streak which temporarily knocked them out of the top eight. They recovered brilliantly with nine wins in their next ten matches before losses to Sydney and Melbourne in the final two rounds of the regular season prevented them from finishing in the top four for a third consecutive year. They dominated Sydney by 49 points in the second elimination final at the SCG before losing to eventual runners-up Collingwood by ten points in the second semi-final.
At the conclusion of the season, foundation players Dylan Shiel and Tom Scully were traded, to Essendon and Hawthorn respectively. Two-gamer Will Setterfield was also traded to Carlton.
Greater Western Sydney qualified for their fourth consecutive finals series in 2019, finishing sixth on the AFL ladder with 13 wins and nine losses. They suffered a major setback early in the year when co-captain Callan Ward was struck down with an ACL injury during the club's round four victory over Geelong and was subsequently sidelined for the rest of the season.
Jeremy Cameron became the first GWS player to win the Coleman Medal as the leading goal scorer in the competition, kicking 67 goals during the home-and-away season. He notably scored nine goals in the final round of the season against Gold Coast to win the award outright, after trailing North Melbourne's Ben Brown by six goals heading into the match.
The Giants entered the 2019 finals series with unconvincing form, particularly after two very poor performances against Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs in rounds 21 and 22 respectively, and were expected by some to exit the finals quickly. However, they defied the odds and would eventually bound into their first ever grand final. The Giants emphatically turned the tables on the Bulldogs – who had humiliated them on their own home ground just three weeks prior – in the second elimination final to the tune of 58 points. Then, they defeated the Brisbane Lions by three points in a classic semifinal at the Gabba before holding on to defeat Collingwood by four points in an equally enthralling preliminary final. In doing so, the Giants became only the second team since the introduction of the AFL final eight system in 2000 to reach the grand final without earning a spot in the top four, after the Bulldogs qualified for the 2016 decider from seventh position (and would eventually win that year's premiership).
They met 2017 premiers Richmond in the 2019 AFL Grand Final on 28 September. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Tigers, who won their second flag in three years by a margin of 89 points – one of the heaviest defeats ever suffered in a VFL/AFL Grand Final.
At the conclusion of the season, foundation player Adam Tomlinson was traded to Melbourne, confirmed on Tuesday 8 October 2019. A predicted transfer of inaugural #1 draft pick Jonathon Patton being traded to Hawthorn also occurred. 2017 first-round draft pick Aiden Bonar was traded to North Melbourne Football Club in the final minutes of the trade period. The Giants got in veteran Sam Jacobs from the Adelaide Crows Football Club, an exemplary ruck of his day, to strengthen their ruck stocks.
Greater Western Sydney entered the 2020 AFL season looking to atone for their humiliating defeat in the grand final. However, despite some early optimism, the Giants' season was a major disappointment. Inconsistent performances throughout the season resulted in the Giants finishing tenth and missing the finals for the first time since 2015. They became the third team in four years to miss the finals after playing in the previous year's decider, after 2016 premiers the Western Bulldogs and 2017 runners-up Adelaide.
During the trading period prior to the start of the 2021 AFL season, star player and former Coleman Medallist Jeremy Cameron was traded to Geelong as a restricted free agent along with two second round draft picks for three first round draft picks and one fourth round draft pick. The Giants also traded away defenders Zac Williams for one first round draft pick, and Aiden Corr for one second round pick to Carlton and North Melbourne respectively.
The Giants also announced two new guernsey designs for both home and away games in conjunction with the teams 10th season in the AFL.
The Giants started their 2021 season with three consecutive losses before upsetting Collingwood in the 4th round by 30 points. Injuries plagued the Giants at the start of the season, with high profile recruits Jesse Hogan and Braydon Preuss, along with star defender Lachie Whitfield, injuring themselves during the preseason. Senior players Matt de Boer, Phil Davis, and captain Stephen Coniglio were also all injured during the Giants round 3 game against Melbourne.
Despite these injuries, GWS would go on to upset Sydney during their round 5 clash at the SCG, with the Giants winning by two points against an undefeated Sydney side.
Due to a major COVID outbreak in New South Wales, GWS, as well as their crosstown rival Sydney, spent the final two months of the home-and-away season away from the state. The Giants were able to navigate this period well and booked a fifth finals appearance in six seasons, finishing seventh on the AFL ladder with 11 wins, 10 losses and a draw.
GWS would meet Sydney in a final for the third time, and the first outside of New South Wales, with the match being relocated to University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston. The Giants once again prevailed over their crosstown rival, defeating the Swans by one point in a thrilling elimination final.
The Giants’ season, however, came to an end the following week after losing to Geelong by 35 points in the second semi final at Optus Stadium.
GWS had a difficult 2022 season, winning just 6 of their 22 games and finishing 16th on the ladder. The Giants popular long-time coach Leon Cameron stood down after 9 years with the club ahead of their round 9 clash against Carlton following a slow start of 2 wins and 6 losses. Mark McVeigh was announced as the Giants interim coach for the remainder of the 2022 season winning 4 of his 13 games in charge. Kingsley was named senior coach of Greater Western Sydney on 22 August 2022.