For the past decade Eels legend Ray Price has stood alone as the immortalised sporting icon of Parramatta.
Price’s statue stands outside Bankwest Stadium but yesterday a new face popped up.
Emblazoned on the side of a shop wall just off Church Street is a freshly painted mural of GWS Giants star Jeremy Cameron.
Accompanied by the catch cry “Parramatta is GIANT”, Cameron’s image was unveiled yesterday, with veins popping and mouth bellowing after kicking the monster winning goal in last week’s AFL preliminary final.
The artwork painted by the Sun Ming BBQ restaurant at 143 Church Street, symbolises the reach of the Giants.
Mitchell Main, 13, played his 100th match earlier this year for the Parramatta Lions and one day dreams of walking in Cameron’s footsteps.
“The way he catches the ball and can kick … I do dream of playing for the Giants,” said Mitchell, who proudly wore Cameron’s No 18 jumper at the mural site.
“Most of my friends play soccer and cricket. They think AFL is really rough, when it’s actually not. I’m proud to be a footy player.”
Father Brad, who is president of the Lions, said his son was playing AFL because of the effort the Giants had put into promoting the sport in the rugby league area.
While the Cameron mural was a nice touch, it has been difficult to find much of a grand final buzz in Sydney’s west. Hundreds of supporters flocked to Giants’ training at Homebush on Tuesday, but not a soul could be seen in charcoal and orange in Greater Western Sydney’s supposed heartland of Blacktown. About half the fans at training were school kids gifted a few hours off school.
President of the Blacktown Giants supporters’ group Colleen Klingberg says scores of “real fans” in the crowd of close to 100,000 will be at the MCG on Saturday as they take on Richmond’s fanatical Tiger Army.
“There’s more fans than they realise,” she said. “And we’re talking about fans that haven’t just joined up to be a fashion statement. They have joined up because they like the game and like the club.”
A first grand final for the Giants in only their eighth season hasn’t exactly captured the locals’ attention. When AAP asked some bystanders if they were looking forward to the game on the weekend, they said: “Um. We’re rugby players,” 16-year-old Miracle Tuimaualuga said with a shrug.
The Daily Telegraph, AAP