Harley wants sell-out crowd for GWS-Swans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Harley wants sell-out crowd for GWS-Swans

Rob Forsaith 16/06/2011 04:21:48 PM Comments (0)

Two-time Geelong premiership captain Tom Harley is confident the AFL's newest rivalry will attract sell-out crowds in Sydney during the 2012 season.

A modest crowd will file into Blacktown Olympic Park this weekend to watch Greater Western Sydney take on the Swans reserves in the NEAFL.

But Harley, AFL NSW/ACT's planning and operations manager, is expecting big things next year when the Giants make their AFL debut.

"That first one should be a sell-out, absolutely," Harley told AAP.

"The message I'll be putting out to people and the football public in New South Wales is that there will never be another first game between GWS and the Swans again.

"There would be a handful of Suns supporters who, for whatever reason, couldn't get along to that first game against the Brisbane Lions, and they'd be disappointed about missing that opportunity.

"I'd hate for any Swans and Giants fans to feel the same way."

Harley views the marketing potential of Giants-Swans contests as immense.

He hopes the games will attract curious punters who had previously failed to take even a fleeting interest in AFL.

"A point in case would be State of Origin, where it captures an audience outside of the typical rugby league crowd, and I think the AFL's certainly got a rivalry that can do the same," he said.

"State of Origin is a fantastic event and I've been along as an impartial supporter before and thoroughly enjoyed it."

Harley said GWS and Sydney will need to be both bitter rivals and best friends next year.

"Football in NSW needs to adopt the approach of absolute competition on the field and total collaboration off it," he said.

"We're still certainly in a developmental state.

"It'll be more than just the on-field activities in that game. I'm positive there'll be all sorts of fan engagement activities, a good buildup."

Queensland's interest in the inaugural derby between Brisbane and Gold Coast was undoubtedly boosted bythe pre-game slanging match.

Lions coach Michael Voss and Gold Coast counterpart Guy McKenna exchanged barbs while Brisbane midfielder Simon Black suggested former teammates Jared Brennan and Michael Rischitelli were mercenaries for joining the Suns.

GWS coach Kevin Sheedy, arguably the game's best spruiker, is yet to direct too much niggle Sydney's way, but Harley believes the rivalry is already building.

"There'll be nothing artificial about a Swans-GWS rivalry," he said.

"When you've got a two-team town, the rivalry is just the natural occurrence.

"I certainly was always envious of the clubs that had genuine one-on-one rivalries.

"... It's an opportunity the Swans players have and the Giants players have, that only a handful of players will get."

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