Newell’s Notes Round 21 Greater Western Sydney Giants vs Hawthorn 2019

The Snow

Of course it was the highlight of the night. The snow came in around the first quarter as a flurry. It wasn’t heavy enough to cover the ground, but it was snow for sure. The crowd roared their approval at the novelty. Some folks even had snow goggles on. Makes you wonder if the crowd were that well prepared than surely the Giants would have known it was going to be cold at Manuka Oval on Friday night. The venue was once described as a fortress for the Giants, hasn’t been kind to them this year losing two out of three games (Fremantle & Hawthorn). The former lowest score ironically was against Hawthorn way back in 2012. It was the worst game I have ever seen from the Greater Western Sydney Giants and that’s saying something. The bad old days of 2012,13 14 where wins were rare and turnovers would drive you crazy. The sad part about the Giants was the effort and lack of desire considering it’s only 2 games out from the Finals series.

The snow falling during the first quarter in Canberra. Photo: Jodie Newell


Enjoyed catching up with Paul Puopolo after the Canberra “Freezer Bowl”. He kindly recognized us after speaking with him last year after he played a key role in Hawthorn’s victory against Sydney last year at the SCG which clutched the double chance for the Hawks. The veteran triple-premiership Hawk is still loving his footy despite the meat locker type conditions on Friday. Loved his game and he still has the ability to snag goals when required. I guess there’s been a lot of speculation about his future, but he’s been absolute gold for Hawthorn. Some of his goals have been unbelievable, no wonder he’s played in 3 flag teams. Good luck to whatever happens with Poppies football career.

Paul Puopolo was one of the first to congratulate debutante Changkuoth Jiath. Photo: Jodie Newell

One of the key reasons why I love football

Take a look at this photo below. There is a young bloke surrounded by team mates of one of Australia’s most successful sporting clubs.  We seem to read too much negativity about alleged racism and associated crime with certain communities living in Australia. The Sundanese community has been targeted by several media commentators. Sure there has been a number gang related incidents (in Melbourne) but there have also been some fantastic stories about Sundanese footballers making the grade at AFL level. I have no doubt these young men will inspire people in their communities to take up the game. I don’t buy into the argument that Australia is a racist country.  Unfortunately there are pockets of it, but on the whole Australians of 2019 are far more inclusive and open than years ago. On saying that when I was at Maribyrnong High School in the 1970’s where we had an immigrant hostel nearby and many of the new arrivals came to our school. We had Chileans, Timorese, Vietnamese, Scottish, English etc. It was a golden lesson for me and my fellow classmates, that our country would welcome people from all worlds for a better chance at life.They integrated, they taught us stuff about their culture and whilst it wasn’t perfect, we learnt to get along and be Australians in our own way. So it was really heartening to see Changkuoth Jiath stand in the Hawthorn club song circle and be symbolically welcomed to the winners circle. He was part of the team, he belonged and that’s why I love Australian rules football, the key element the sense of belonging no matter who you are or where you have come from. Let’s hope there are more scenes like this in the coming years. Mind you I bet “Chang” would’ve been excused for disliking the weather on Friday compared to the Sudan! His stats for the game were: 11 disposals, 3 marks and 2 tackles.

Welcome to the winners circle! Changkuoth Jiath played his 1st game for the Hawks on Friday. Photo: Jodie Newell

Where to for Leon?

It’s tough time for Leon Cameron. It’s times like these with the 3 consecutive losses of a few weeks ago, the poor MCG form and the inability to win major finals that has the pundit class asking questions about the viability of his future tenure. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to speculate. Can he take this team further is the key question? Does he have the ability to respond to a team that has nosedived on typical characteristics ie: “the orange tsunami” which has all but disappeared. Preparation for conditions is another. Be it at the MCG or Canberra, there have been times this year when you wonder what on earth did the Giants not do with regards to preparation for games. As has been reported Alastair Clarkson was running topless at Manuka Oval the day before during training. Isaac Smith was showboating in his budgie smugglers running laps. Clarko laughing and back slapping in the quarter time huddle. The Hawks made the extreme conditions seem like a day at out at Luna Park. The Giants were the exact opposite. Upturned faces, shivering gestures, heads down. Surely they would have know about the extreme conditions that were coming. There is also word that Giants football manager Wayne Campbell is on the way out with reported rumours of discontent between players and coaching staff. On the eve of the finals series, that’s not a good look nor does it give you much faith in the cohesiveness of this side. I think and I cant confirm it, but the longer the speculation about Stephen Coniglio goes on the more it seems to be affecting this team. They don’t look on the same page. There isn’t an apparent hunger to win and when pressure is applied they are finding it hard to adjust and get back into a game. Of course they did win two recent close games against Port Adelaide (which they deserved) but with the Sydney game, they were very lucky to get out of that one due to poor kicking by the Swans. I wish for the club’s sake Leon is able to turn the club around, he’s done a great job in the short history of the Giants. This is a very trying time and here’s hoping he can get them back to being what they once were, an exciting, thrilling “underdog” football team.

Can he turn it around? Giants coach Leon Cameron’s future is being questioned. Photo: Jodie Newell


About the Author

Jodie Newell
Love reporting on sports, politics, history and music