Don't forget who you represent

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Sport is a defining part of life in western Sydney, and the battle to win the hearts and minds of the people is an ongoing one.

I thought this week I’d have a look at where the three key western Sydney clubs across the major codes are placed as the battle for the west continues…

NRL: Penrith Panthers

What’s in a name? The big issue over at the Panthers at the moment seems to be about the change of logo for the 2014 season and dropping the word ‘Penrith’ from that branding.

I understand the reasons behind the move, but as a fan and advocate for Penrith, I doubt I’ll ever agree with the logo not carrying the name of the city that the team represents.

In the world of big brands and buzz words, I understand how easy it is to be convinced that the bigger picture is amazingly bright, but as the old saying goes, you should never forget where you come from.

The Panthers mean something to this city; the two premierships – particularly in 1991 – are deeply entrenched in the history of Penrith, not just the history of Panthers.

Councillor and former Mayor John Thain said to me this week that dropping ‘Penrith’ was a “denial of who they are and where they come from”.

It’s hard to disagree with him.

This is a proud, growing regional city, and one that the Panthers should be proud to have emblazoned across their logo and jersey.

Many say it doesn’t matter and maybe in the big scheme of things, it won’t.

But as someone who’s attended Penrith games since I was a kid, I personally am disappointed to see the city’s name gone from the logo for the first time since 1967.

The logo image itself? It’s slowly growing on me, particularly when it’s on a black background.

On the field, where footy matters most, the Panthers appear to be on track, with victory in the Holden Cup Grand Final last weekend helping prove this.

Players like Bryce Cartwright and George Jennings will emerge as future household names of this club, and recruitment for the 2014 season has been second to none in the NRL.

Penrith is a top eight side in 2014.

AFL: GWS Giants

The Greater Western Sydney Giants are a joke, and I mean that.

And it’s not just about their poor performances on the field, but their complete lack of connection with the area they apparently represent.

This was highlighted most last week, when the Giants secured the services of Shane Mumford for next season.

Last Thursday, they held a press conference and photo opportunity with the Swans ruckman.

Where did they hold it, I hear you ask?

Blacktown? Parramatta? Penrith?

Nope, don’t be silly, that’d be too smart.The press conference was held in Glebe, with photos taken in front of the ANZAC Bridge.

Welcome to the west, Shane!

This was only rivalled for stupidity back in June when the Giants held a media event on the steps of the Sydney Opera House to promote their match against Port Adelaide.

Actually, I tell a lie. They also held a media opportunity in Coogee back in June as well.

Coogee – pathway to the west.

At that Opera House event, their “number one ticket holder” Melissa Doyle was proudly in attendance.

She, by the way, went to Pymble Ladies College. Pride of the west.

To be honest, the Giants’ strategy totally confuses me.

It’s not being helped by their performances on the field, but unless they actually start to respect and penetrate their target market, they’ll go out the back door very, very quickly.

A-League: WS Wanderers

The A-League season kicks off this weekend and there’s no doubt that all eyes will be on the Wanderers.

Don’t let the success of the club fool you in terms of the A-League itself – it’s still got a long, long way to go before it is a stable force in Australian sport, but the amazing debut season from Western Sydney last year is certainly a huge help.

Nobody can deny how amazing the fan base is, and those at the Wanderers club are quietly confident they’ll stick around even if results start to fall away.

Without doubt, the Wanderers are on the cusp of cementing a long, successful future in western Sydney.

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