A ‘Turning Point’ can be described as, “a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.” To the very few viewers that tuned in on a Sunday evening to watch the Gold Coast dismantle Hawthorn, that was what they witnessed. A team in the face of adversity, in the face of uncertainty, drew all their will power and fortitude to turn the tables back in their favour. A team whose future was being played out in the media, refocus and play the brand of football for which the fans have so desperately been longing. What the Suns did was epic!
After their horror loss to GWS the week prior, the vultures circled (including me) on the Suns. Many journalists around the country found a story or two in attitude and absence of Gary Ablett’s leadership within the game scenario and whether he was fully committed to the club or instead pondering an early retirement. However, the biggest news appeared in the Herald Sun on a Saturday morning when Will Hodgman, the premier of Tasmania, had surfaced with a bid to the AFL urging them to relocate the Gold Coast Suns to Tasmania. In the eyes of Hodgman, it seems a perfect fit with Suns a struggling commodity up north and Tasmania being the perfect destination to renew and promote a club with a population of football fanatics.
To the average reader, the deal was also pleasantly viable. We all know Tasmania have been deprived of an AFL team for far too long and football in Queensland being diabolical for the better half of a decade. Many were suggesting that the transition would take place at the conclusion of this season with the AFL having no choice but to concede that the Gold Coast experiment was just a disaster waiting to happen and that expansion into NRL strongholds is not in the best interest of fans. But oh, how one game can change everything.
The phrase, “a week is a long time in footy,” could not ring any truer in a situation such as this. One huge effort by the Suns and the idea of relocation has already gone cold. In an instant, the previous naysayers, (yes that’s me) have gone into some sort of hiding or witness protection program. The media have backed off like a bully when they find out the victim has a big brother. Only praise and the obligatory thanks for beating Hawthorn are all that can be heard. And so, it should be.
As impulsive and impatient fans of football, we quite often put the foot to the throat of underperforming teams, especially at the start of the season when hope and excitement are at their highest. In doing so, we are either ecstatic with our team’s result, or bitterly disappointed. Thus, we encourage the media and anyone with an agenda to shove negative and blasphemous critique in our mouths, and we swallow it willingly. In doing so, we put the pressure on our side to continuously perform and improve to satisfy our insecurity of being on the winning side of society.
So as the Suns slumped to zero and two, we reacted accordingly to our impulses and gave them hell with question marks surrounding the coach, personnel and future of the club. But it was all unjustified. We had only seen two games. Two games where new players both young and old are adjusting to their new positions and roles within their club. For the Suns, they had to accommodate the debut of Ben Ainsworth and Jack Bowes as well as tinker their midfield structure for Michael Barlow and Jarryd Lyons. It wasn’t going to just click straight away. Good things take time, and the Suns are a good thing.
They have a very balanced list that possesses good spinal players from full-back to full-forward. The likes of Tom Lynch, Peter Wright, Jarrod Witts, Steven May and Rory Thompson is very formidable and underrated tall unit that is still developing into something special. The outside pace of Jack Martin or Touk Miller was on full-display against the Hawks as well as the goal savviness of both Ablett and Brandon Matera. The Suns are a good side and headed into the right direction with a coach in Rodney Eade who led the Western Bulldogs to three consecutive preliminary finals in 2008-10.
The fact that they have been bashed in the media after two games is not fair on both the players and the staff who have orchestrated a mini Suns rebuild that has brought them back into competitiveness quicker than most top Victorian clubs. Yes, they are no GWS in where they stand in the premiership race but should that mean we disregard them and look to move them to the southern-most part of the country? Is there no future up north?
No doubt the Suns will have to replicate the form that they showed against the Hawks to put these issues to bed. But how likely is that? The answer should be very, as the Suns are rising, and so is the likelihood of a future on the Gold Coast. With Eade at the helm and youth on their side, the Gold Coast Suns aren’t going anywhere fast.