WHEN Giants like Phil Davis genuinely want to know more about what makes Ballarat football tick, we know we have made a mark.
We may have lost a big game but we are definitely not losers.
Our city leaders have been quick and clear to reassure the show Ballarat served up - as a team effort - in a late call-up to AFL action last Sunday has set this city in good stead with the league. You could say this undoubtedly would have made an impression on all elite sporting ranks.
We earned the AFL's Battle of the Bridge between Greater Western Sydney Giants and Sydney that a fast-changing pandemic environment has now denied us.
But when players - and these are players thrown late into Ballarat - are impressed in our honour rolls and pleasantly surprised to check which 100-gamers used the lockers they are borrowing, that shows a deeper respect in our culture.
Multiple sources from within North Ballarat Football Club told Press Box the Giants, led by captain Phil Davis, were keenly interested and learning names like A Lockett, being Tony "Plugger" Lockett, and Michael Malthouse were proud Northie products.
Let alone the rich history and incredible photographic display Gold Coast Suns would have enjoyed in the Greater Western Victoria Rebels' room.
North Ballarat chief executive officer Scott Seward said the Giants' interest was about far more than the club rooms they used. He said this was about interest in the city's football tradition and in the past.
The Giants made their base the rooms our North Ballarat Roosters made home in the Victorian Football League, launching a whole lot more decorated AFL careers.
Giant Jacob Hopper, a former Rebel and St Patrick's College footballer, might have been more familiar with the game's away rooms on match day but made Northern Oval number one his domain once more with 41 disposals against the Suns. Ballarat also marked Hopper's 100th AFL premiership season game.
Should Sydney have reached Ballarat, the Swans have plenty of their own ties to Mars Stadium via North junior product Dale Lewis while Darren Jolly and Dean Towers were both drafted to AFL ranks from the Roosters' VFL ranks.
Proud Horsham export Jake Lloyd, who is set to line up for the Swans this week, was a Rebel and followed in the footsteps of fellow Horsham Rebel Adam Goodes - a dual Brownlow Medallist, a dual AFL premiership player, four-time all-Australian and three-time Bob Skilton medallist as Swans' best and fairest.
Seward said North Ballarat, in partnership with City of Ballarat and Giants, had been deep in plans to take this week's AFL hosting duties to a whole new level.
We know we can put on a great show. A-League football club Western United has already flagged it wants more Ballarat games at Mars next season.
Our history and those who helped Ballarat reach this point is always worth remembering and celebrating.
We may have lost a big bonus AFL clash this week but we have what it takes to demand more action.
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