From the Grandstand: Start of something special for Suns

22 March 2011

Written by: Ben Waterworth


Unlike Sydney, Fremantle or Port Adelaide before them, the Suns are a club who have started completely from scratch. They will enter the AFL with little history and no reputation whatsoever, not to mention they’re situated in a Rugby League-mad state too.

In March 2009, the AFL finally gave Gold Coast the go-ahead to field an AFL team in the 2011 season. In July 2010, the club launched its identity, announcing its new nickname and unveiling its song, logo and three playing strips. The team colours represent the culture of Surfers Paradise – red (for the sun), gold (for the sand) and blue (for the ocean and sky) – while the lifeguard mascot symbolises the iconic beach culture of the region. It’s cheesy, but it has merit.

The Suns participated in the 2009 TAC Cup – finishing fifth – then competed in the 2010 VFL season, where they won five games and drew one. Now all of a sudden, they find themselves in the most competitive and lethal football competition in the country.

It’s been a long time coming for Gold Coast, yet it has all happened so quickly. But with almost 12,000 members already on board and solid support from AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, there is no doubt this club has the potential to achieve great things.


It will be interesting to see if Gary Ablett has the same impact at Gold Coast like what he did at Geelong. Some critics believe the Suns’ star recruit won’t be as dominant this season because he won’t receive as much protection and assistance from his fellow midfielders. But Ablett’s ability to win the football is as good as anyone else in the competition. He demands the footy, hence his staggering average of 30.2 disposals and one goal per game over the past four years. The club’s first captain may take some time to adapt to his new surroundings, especially because he didn’t play in any of the pre-season matches. But his leadership and exquisite ball skills will be invaluable to such a young team.


Round 2 – v Carlton, Saturday 2 April at Gabba

The Suns will play their first official AFL game against Carlton at the Gabba, after having the bye in round one. The Blues better be fully prepared, because Guy McKenna’s men will be keen to make a strong impression in their first match.

Round 7 – v Brisbane, Saturday 7 May at Gabba

This match has been dubbed the ‘Queensland Clash’ or the ‘QClash’. While it may take some time for the new derby title to trend on twitter, expect this game to carry plenty of publicity and emotion with big bragging rights up for grabs.

Round 10 – v Geelong, Saturday 28 May at Metricon Stadium

The Suns’ first game at their new home ground just happens to be Ablett’s first match against his once beloved Cats. It will be fascinating to see how his old teammates, who protected and defended him brilliantly for so many years, treat him throughout the game.


It’s hard to make a decisive call on where the Suns will stand at the end of the 2011 home-and-away season.

Will they fail to impress and finish on the bottom of the ladder? Will they finish on the bottom but push some of the more established teams to their limits and show some promising signs? Will they surprise everyone and push for a finals spot?

No matter where you think Gold Coast will finish, its uncontracted players it recruited in 2010 will be vital in developing a team with an average age of just over 21.

Besides acquiring Ablett’s services, the club’s recruiting staff deliberately went out and formed an established defensive unit. Nathan Bock and Campbell Brown will be able to play on key forwards, while Jarrod Harbrow and Nathan Krakouer will provide plenty of run and drive off the half-back line. In the midfield, Michael Rischitelli will only keep improving and Josh Fraser will be crucial in the ruck. And Jared Brennan might start to find some consistency at full forward.

But let’s not forget the abundance of talented youth. Number one draft pick David Swallow has already been likened to Chris Judd and Ben Cousins. Defender Josh Toy plays in a very similar style to Port Adelaide’s Chad Cornes and already looks like an AFL player. While Brandon Matera looms as a potential headache for opposition sides in the forward line, despite standing at 174 centimetres.

Looking at the Suns’ pre-season form, a top eight spot is out of the question. At best, the club and its supporters will be hoping for six to ten wins. Realistically, they should be aiming for three to six.

However let’s not forget Gold Coast has recruited some of the best young talent in the country over the past two years. And if Ablett and the rest of their uncontracted signings are still around in four to five years time, the Suns should figure heavily in September.


15th – 17th

Ben Waterworth is a third year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is upstart’s sports editor. You can also follow him on twitter @bjwaterworth