Wait finally over for rising Suns - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wait finally over for rising Suns

By Laine Clark 01/04/2011 09:26:05 PM Comments (0)

A new dawn is about to break on the AFL - and it couldn't come soon enough for the Gold Coast Suns.

Barely four years after a 17th club was a "crazy concept" AFL boss Andrew Demetriou pitched to Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke over cappuccinos, the Suns will rise against Carlton at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The thought of superstar Gary Ablett leading the Suns out in round two 2011 in front of an expected 30,000 people would have been a fantasy back then.

Even when the AFL gave a Gold Coast consortium six months to prepare a case in April 2008.

Yet history shows the Gold Coast received an AFL licence by March 2009 - and eventually their man, Ablett.

It has been a meteoric rise - but Suns vice-captain Campbell Brown was still impatient.

"A lot of the guys just want to get the game over and done with," he said after the Suns' final training session on Friday.

"We have been talking for two, three years now.

"It's good that after today there's no more words - we will be judged by our actions."

Previous AFL newcomers have eventually found their feet to achieve success.

The Brisbane Lions created a dynasty after merging with Fitzroy, Adelaide went back-to-back, West Coast dominated the early 1990s and the latest debutant Port Adelaide claimed a flag in 2004.

But never has so much been invested in making an AFL club an immediate success like the Suns.

The numbers are staggering - the $144 million redeveloped Carrara stadium, the reported $2 million that convinced Karmichael Hunt to make a switch from rugby league, the $7.5 million Ablett is expected to receive.

It is the stuff that the last team to be based at Carrara - the Brisbane Bears - only dreamed about.

Particularly after the Bears had just four months to prepare, with no regular training facility, for their AFL debut.

Still, that is only scratching the surface at the Suns.

There is also nine of the first 15 picks they received in the 2011 Draft, 12 of the country's best 17-year-olds they grabbed and the eight uncontracted players who signed on - including that man Ablett.

Brown said the Suns were ready to rise to the challenge - starting with their Gabba clash against the Blues.

"We definitely think we can win," the former premiership-winning Hawthorn hardman said.

"We just want to get out there and be really competitive.

"We have a couple of benchmarks that we are going to judge our game by - none of them have got to do with the scoreboard or winning.

"(But) we all want to get out there and be as hard and as physical as we possibly can - we want to match Carlton in that area."

History shows four of the last six debutant AFL sides won their first game.

But it is rare for a side to boast 12 debutants like the Suns - with an average age of 21.

Indeed the Suns' average age of 21 years 80 days makes them the youngest inaugural team in AFL history - easily eclipsing Port's mark of 21 years 307 days.

But Brown said the team was not worried about stats - just their historic moment on Saturday night.

"I would describe it as a finals atmosphere," Brown said.

"Lots of activity around the club, family members coming in - we had a presentation yesterday with all the debutants.

"My advice to the youngsters is 'you only play your first game once, just enjoy it, embrace the crowd' - hopefully it will be an enjoyable night."

Demetriou is certainly keeping his fingers crossed.

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