Giants look to regain 2019 momentum; Longmire signs on; new football director on Hawthorn board

GWS Giants’ CEO Dave Matthews has no doubt the club is destined to become “really, really big club” despite losing momentum in the Sydney market after their 2019 grand final appearance when COVID-19 struck.

He said the club is ready to take on the huge challenge of restoring crowds for home games after recording an operating loss of $1.5 million following what he conceded was a disappointing year on and off the field in 2022.

The Giants could not attract a crowd above 9000 spectators to Giants Stadium in 2022 after losing seven of their first nine games and parting ways with long-serving coach Leon Cameron.

However with a new coach in Adam Kingsley, standalone captain Toby Greene and a list they believe can rebound into finals contention the Giants expect to get back to the point they reached in 2019 when they made the grand final and lost to Richmond. 

No.1 draft pick Aaron Cadman is presented with his Giants jumper by Toby Greene.Credit:Getty Images

Matthews said COVID effectively knocked them out of their primary markets in Sydney and Canberra for two years and affected early crowds last season in what he described as an “abnormal result”.

“They are not where we are heading and our challenge and we are really up for the challenge is seeing whether we can continue to restore and recover so we can get back to the position we were in in 2019,” Matthews said.

“Crowds are really vital. Winning matters, the fixture the AFL gives us really matters. We are still working out where our best timeslot is but the AFL have been great in committing additional marketing funds to boost our presence.”

The Giants recently extended their deal to play in Canberra for the next 10 years with the club having 6000 members from the nation’s capital and regularly attracting crowds of 10,000.

They are also planning to offer free entry to children 14 and under to Giants Stadium in an effort to establish a pattern for families to attend.

“We are not satisfied with the results last year on or off the field. We are ambitious about building crowds and are working hard with the AFL on that,” Matthews said.

“The substance is still there to be a top eight side. The opportunity for the club and the AFL is enormous. This is going to be a really really big club.”

The Giants and Gold Coast are both heavily reliant on the AFL with each club receiving $25 million variable funding from the league as they battle for revenue in a non-traditional AFL market.

Matthews said it is impossible to predict the pace they will grow to reduce that number but said the past three seasons were a reminder that growth will not be linear and the club would take a generation to cement its place saying that the Giants had still only played about 80 games in Sydney during its entire existence.

They are working with the AFL on a five-year model which would put in place some targets but staying out of gaming and not having a traditional fan base meant they had to work hard for revenue.

He said the club remained proud of making finals in five of six seasons between 2016-2021, but they knew work lay ahead of them.

Longmire locked in with Swans until end of 2025

Roy Ward

Sydney coach John Longmire has signed a two-year extension until the end of the 2025 season.

Longmire has led the Swans since 2011 which has seen the team win the 2012 premiership while playing in four grand finals and 10 finals series.

“It’s a privilege to continue to be the coach of this great club. I’m lucky to have great people around me, great staff, and a fantastic young playing group,” Longmire said.

“It’s exciting to work with young players on their way through to help them learn and grow, while I’m also fortunate to work with quality leaders who take pride in passing on their own experience.

“Everyone at our club is excited, not only about the 2023 season ahead, but about the journey we’re on and the opportunity we have before us. We’re committed to getting better every day.”

Hawthorn appoint Luke McCabe as football director

Hawthorn have added former player Luke McCabe to their board as football director despite him being based in South Australia.

He replaces Richard Vandenberg who resigned from the board after last year’s election saw president-elect Peter Nankivell lose to Andrew Gowers.

McCabe played 138 games for the Hawks between 1995-2004 and was runner-up in the club best and fairest in 1998 and also played in the club’s 1999 premiership team.

New football director at Hawthorn Luke McCabe tries to stop Eagles forward Phil MateraCredit:Getty Images

He played alongside Hawks coach Sam Mitchell when Mitchell made his debut in round five 2002 in a team that contained five members of the club’s 2008 premiership team.

Post football, McCabe has gone on to run a successful South Australian agriculture business and is currently serving on the South Australian Football Commission and earned the position after a strong selection process.

Hawthorn president Andy Gowers said McCabe was a great addition to the board.

“Luke has long been a proud member of the brown and gold family, and we are delighted to be adding a person of his calibre to our Board,” Gowers said.

“Luke’s experience speaks for itself – his knowledge in both a football and business sense will be a valuable addition.

“He has a clear vision on what is required to continue to build our winning culture and will be working closely with our football department, led by Rob McCartney.”

Steele remains Saints skipper

Roy Ward

St Kilda midfielder Jack Steele will captain the club for a third season as the Saints enter their 150th year anniversary celebrations.

Steele will be the stand-alone skipper with Callum Wilkie as vice-captain along with leadership group members Seb Ross, Tim Membrey and Jack Sinclair.

“I’m so proud to lead this club in what is such a special year for everyone who bleeds red, white and black,” Steele said.

“Every time I pull on the jumper, the significance of representing generations of Saints fans, staff and players isn’t wasted on me.

“I’m really looking forward to working closely with Cal, someone I’m lucky to call a close friend.

“To see Cal grow into the respected and deserving leader he is today is something I’m very proud of and I know he’ll do great things in this role.”

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