For most reading this, I hope this wouldn’t be your first rodeo at The Mongrel Punt.
However, just in case it is, strap yourself in, put a towel underneath your seat, and get set for the biggest lovefest since Joel Selwood became the premiership captain he was always destined to be.
In the 25th Sydney Derby, the GWS Giants looked gone. The Swans had done what was necessary to establish their break in the last quarter and looked set to record their fourth win of the season. It was to be a much-needed win, particularly after the flogging they received at Kardinia Park the preceding week. Most pundits tipped them to bounce back against the Giants, and with four-goal advantage halfway through the last quarter, the writing appeared to be on the wall – the gallant Giants were about to go down to the Swans.
That was the script.
Then Toby Greene decided to make a few edits.
Over the years, Toby Greene has been a lightning rod for controversy, and that has extended all the way to how he is portrayed and how that portrayal is received on this very site. I have vivid memories of several emails and messages from members, or should I say “former members” telling me they love our content, but they could not, in good conscience, support a site that extols the virtue of Greene’s style of play.
Yep, Toby Greene has cost me money over the journey and that’s completely fine with me. After all, he remains one of the few players I would happily pay money to see.
Of course, not everyone feels the same.
They’re the words that get bandied around when the subject of Toby Greene is raised.
Mike Tyson said it best.
Social Media has made you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.
When you look deeper at what this Toby Greeme provides the GWS Giants – beyond the reputation fed by a media hungry for a villain to wear the black hat, you get a clearer picture as to why he is so highly regarded by those at his club and footy purists, alike.
Where were the talks about Toby Greene wanting out of an expansion club? Where were the rumours of him holding out for free agency?
Keep your “grub, thug, and scum” descriptions. Give me “loyal, passionate, and dedicated” any day.
You all know you’d love him on your team. Don’t even pretend you wouldn’t.
His last quarter in the thrilling one-point win over the Swans this afternoon was Toby Greene in a nutshell. He kicked goals, he assisted on others, he tried to milk free kicks, he flew at the footy, moved into the guts, and of all players on the ground – and we are talking some of the best in the game at the moment – he was the only one that looked likely to make a significant difference.
On commentary, Dermott Brereton called it – he does not have the athletic attributes of some of his contemporaries, but Greene is a footballer, first and foremost. If there were no AFL as we know it, he’d be running around a country league, kicking snags all over the place. He just has a feel for the game you can not teach. He sees the game better than anyone else and reacts accordingly.
And it is thrilling to view. Even as a neutral supporter.
When he was made sole captain of this team, the outcry from the eternally offended was deafening. How could this club reward a player like Greene with the leadership of young men?
It is the question asked by those who watch highlights and take to a social media platform to have their feelings validated.
Toby Greene is the heart and soul of the GWS Giants. When they were down, it was Greene commanding the footy and delivering exactly what they needed. When he was caught with pressure coming at him from all angles, it was Greene having the presence of mind and incredible vision to pull his kick to find Harry Perryman inside 50, where he slotted a huge goal. He kicked one off the deck, himself, before once again, both making the play and finishing it, in perhaps the most Toby Greene-esque play of the season thus far.
After marking at half forward, the fact that it was Greene that then pressed hard to get inside attacking fifty to be at the next contest is a testament to how hard he works for this team. As he snapped the matchwinning goal, it reminded me of another maligned figure doing whatever it took to drag his team across the line in a classic encounter.
Hird… Hird… HIRD!!!
Not this time.
This time, it was Greene… Greene… GREENE!
I would have hugged him over the fence after that effort!
The last quarter from Toby Greene, elevating his Giants – and they are HIS Giants, make no mistake – once again emphasised that we are currently able bear witness to one of the true masters of his craft on a weekly basis. If you’re still bogged down in the mindset of him being a dirty player, or him hurting your feelings with his actions on the field, it might be time to let it go just so you can enjoy the spectacle of a great player… being bloody great!
The Giants may not be going to make any big, big sounds in 2023. They may end up around the middle of the table as they struggle to re-establish themselves as an AFL force. However, if you’re looking for moments, games, or quarters of footy that will renew your faith in not only this team, but the game itself, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better advertisement than the last half an hour of footy from Toby Greene.
In one fell swoop, the Giants’ leader put his team on his back, breathed life into their season, and sent the Sydney Swans into turmoil.
Just as you’d expect, right?
The agent of chaos, the hand that rocks the cradle, and the sand in your vaseline did it again in Round Seven and if you missed it because you don’t like him, well…
… I’m sorry, but you definitely missed out on some of the best work from footy’s flawed genius.
* Matt Parnell will provide the full game review on Sunday for this one.
Like this content? You could buy me a coffee – I do like coffee, but there is no guarantee I won’t use it to buy a doughnut… I like them more. And I am not brought to you by Sportsbet or Ladbrokes… or Bet365, or any of them.