Giants Join Ranks Of Successful Expansion Teams

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This is the eighth AFL season for the Greater Western Sydney Giants and of course, it’s their first-ever berth in the Grand Final.

While they’re not the first AFL ‘expansion’ team to make the Granny, the Giants are unique in the fact that they were created from scratch and based in a non-Aussie Rules region of the country.

Here are a few other expansion teams that made it to their sport’s finale in a relatively quick time frame:

1st season

Western Sydney Wanderers

Debut Season: 2012-13

Made Grand Final: 2013 (Lost)

Made Asian Champions League Final: 2014 (Won)

Notes: One of the more remarkable first seasons in sporting history, the Wanderers caught lightning in a bottle and made it to the A-League Grand Final, losing to Central Coast. A year later they made history, becoming the first Australian team to win the Asian Champions League.

1st season

Vegas Golden Knights (NHL)

Debut Season: 2017-2018

Made Stanley Cup Finals: 2018 (Lost)

Notes: Almost inconceivable that a team could make the Stanley Cup Finals in its first year of existence. Sceptics pointed to an altered expansion draft, where the new Las Vegas franchise had access to a number of talented players that the other 30 teams couldn’t protect. Even so, it was one hell of an achievement.

2nd season

Melbourne Storm (NRL)

Debut Season: 1998

First NRL Grand Final: 1999 (Won)

Notes: Benefited greatly from the ARL/Super League merger, grabbing players like Robbie Ross, Brett Kimmorley and Rodney Howe, as well as seasoned campaigner Glen Lazarus and Premiership winning coach Chris Anderson. Have gone on to become an NRL success story.

3rd season

South Dragons (NBL)

Debut Season: 2006-2007

First NBL Grand Final Series: 2009 (Won)

Notes: The Brian Goorjian-coached Dragons – with a young Joe Ingles leading the way – beat their archrivals the Melbourne Tigers three games to two in a hotly-contested series. Shortly after winning the championship, the Dragons ceased operations.

4th season

Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Debut Season: 1998

First World Series: 2001 (Won)

Notes: A stunning best-of-seven World Series win over the New York Yankees is far and away the highlight for this franchise that has only made the playoffs six times in 21 seasons.

5th season

West Coast Eagles (AFL)

Debut Season: 1987

First Grand Final: 1991 (Lost)

Notes: Some may forget that the Eagles were an expansion club, started from scratch, albeit with plenty of talent from the WAFL. They had success pretty quickly, and in 1992 won the first of four Grand Finals. The Eagles also won flags in 1994, 2006 and 2018 and are a true Australian sports success story.

5th season

Miami Marlins (MLB)

Debut Season: 1993

First World Series appearance: 1997 (Won)

Notes: The Marlins, previously called the Florida Marlins, are the owners of a bizarre record. They are the only MLB team to have never lost a post-season series. That’s because they’ve only been in the playoffs twice – and both times they won the World Series (they also won in 2003).

6th season

Orlando Magic (NBA)

Debut Season: 1989-90

Made NBA Finals: 1995 (Lost)

Notes: Drafted Shaquille O’Neal and traded for Penny Hardaway, which got the Magic into the 1995 Finals, where they were swept by the Houston Rockets. They also reached the Finals in 2009 (they lost to the Lakers) and have only had six winning seasons since then.

7th season

Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

Debut Season: 1960

First NFL Championship game: 1966 (Lost)

Notes: Dallas was the first NFL expansion team of the modern era, and after the merger with the American Football League in 1970, would go on to win five Super Bowls. The Cowboys are officially the most valuable sporting franchise in the world.

 

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