While the rivalry between Sydney and GWS continues to heat up with every match played between the two sides, the most heated meeting between Swans and Giants representatives may have happened before GWS were even in the AFL.
Ahead of this weekend’s Battle of the Bridge, Kevin Sheedy confirmed to Fairfax that during a lunch meeting at Circular Quay in 2011 with some of the games biggest names, he and former Sydney chairman Richard Colless got into a screaming match before being restrained by AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick.
“Let’s agree to what we’re going to fight about in the papers,” Sheedy said, according to those in the room at the time.
Colless didn’t want to take part in any of the publicity stunts for the media, and let loose with this remark, according to those who were there.
“We don’t even want you in Sydney,” he said.
And with that, the pair’s voices got louder and louder, with Fitzpatrick needing to step between the two to calm them down.
“[Giants chief executive] Dave Matthews called the meeting,” Sheedy recalled.
“I looked at Andrew Demetriou and Mike Fitzpatrick and said, ‘What’s this bullshit? Andrew, let’s not play the Swans for five years, because we’re only going to give them eight points so they can make the four.
“If he [Colless] doesn’t want us in, why should we give them eight easy points?’ How many top-four finishes and grand finals did the Swans make in those years when we were just starting out? This was on top of us being called an AFL propaganda hoax. I thought this was the biggest load of rubbish I’d ever heard.
“Richard didn’t appreciate the talent that was looking at him. He didn’t realise how good we were.”
Colless wouldn’t sit by while Sheedy had the spotlight, with the former Sydney chairman saying Sheedy’s job was purely to generate publicity.
“Kevin’s default position is to put on a clown suit, to be fired out of a cannon, to generate publicity,” Colless said.
“The Swans position was ‘no gimmicks’. If we were to be taken seriously, [the] Geoff Edelsten days had to be gone. We’ve had to be taken seriously as a club, and that was to be respectful of our position in NSW. We had to show humility and convey that we understood the history and culture of sport in this city.
“There’s no question that the fixture has taken on a different complexion because Sydney is respected for its consistency and now you’ve had this spectacular rise from GWS.
“But the Swans have done the heavy lifting with sustained success. ‘The Battle of the Bridge’ is a stupid term. Big brother, little brother … Who thought of that? In Adelaide, there’s deep-seated enmity. That type of rivalry takes time. With Sydney and GWS, I think it’s more deep-seated respect.”