AS THE reality of the start of a possible Greater Western Sydney dynasty sinks in with Victorian fans, coaching great Kevin Sheedy has urged his former charges to seize the day as there are no guarantees they will get back to the big stage.
Few will share the view of the Giants' foundation coach – who labelled those complaining about the Giants' success as "whingers and sooks" – but there is enough merit in Sheedy's theory for it not to be dismissed as spin from a fierce advocate of a national competition.
While a raft of young guns such as Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio and Jeremy Cameron all have plenty of improvement to come, those gains will be offset to some extent by several veterans falling off the other end.
The club's most important player, ruckman Shane Mumford, is 30 and has a checkered injury record, midfielder Ryan Griffen has had two lengthy injury lay-offs this year and defender Joel Patfull, 32 in December, has shown vulnerability at stages.
"This might be their only chance to play in another premiership," Sheedy said.
"They might not be there in a year's time. They have to seize their moment like anybody at the Bulldogs, Swans and the Cats.
"[Sydney coach] Rodney Eade in '96, he beat the Bombers by a point. First-year coach, grand final, never been back to a grand final in 20 years – they're very, very hard to get to."
Rather than play down their chances of winning a flag at their first crack at finals, the Giants are not placing a ceiling on what they might achieve.
"We're really rapt to play in our first finals series. We're not here to make up the numbers," Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
"Sometimes you can play in your first finals series and think it'll come around next year. There's no guarantees for us next year or for 2018."
The Giants' success is not sitting well outside of western Sydney, particularly in the game's heartland in Melbourne where the expansion club is being seen as the darling of head office.
Their opponents, the Western Bulldogs, are the sentimental favourite among neutrals having not won a flag since 1954 or played in a grand final since 1961.
"Twenty-five thousand [people}, preliminary final in the west of Sydney, who would have thought that five years ago?"
Sheedy can appreciate the significance of a Bulldogs victory on Saturday but had a curt message for those holding anti-GWS sentiments: "get a life!"
Instead of complaining about the Giants' lot, they should follow the example of former Hawthorn president Ian Dicker, who took over the reins at the club in 1997 after the failed merger attempt with Melbourne and sowed the seeds for them to become an AFL heavyweight.
"I had a person tell me the other day it's very unfair to Melbourne clubs the Giants making it," Sheedy said at the launch of the book The Origins of Australian Football: Victoria's Early History.
"But go back to Hawthorn 20 years ago – nearly merged with Melbourne. They didn't sit there and sulk, they got out there and worked their butts off and have won three [consecutive] premierships, nearly four, been in grand final after grand final, it's the people that are positive.
"That's what whingers and sooks should look at."
Sheedy said the controversial move to play the game at the 24,000-capacity Spotless Stadium instead of a larger venue like ANZ Stadium or the SCG was "100 per cent the correct decision".
"Seize the moment, play the game there," Sheedy said.
"Twenty-five thousand, preliminary final in the west of Sydney, who would have thought that five years ago?"
The story, AFL finals: Kevin Sheedy says GWS Giants must seize their chance, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.