After what could be described as a solid first season for the new kids on the block, 2013 looms as another important season for the GWS Giants.

Those avid footy fans amongst us were keen observes of the boys from the west and after seeing how Gold Coast went the season before, we were keen to see how the Kevin Sheedy-coached team would go in comparison. While they only won two matches compared to the Suns’ three in 2011, there was plenty to like about the Giants.

Sheedy drilled in a tough, defensive style of football that will hold the club in good stead in the years to come. His players are remarkably bigger and stronger in the first year than those from Gold Coast.

The Giants launched an ambitious plan to capture Rugby League star Israel Folau to appeal to a market where other football codes usually took precedence. There is no doubt that this raised heads amongst both the AFL and NRL communities but in 2013, the Giants need to get past the Folau gimmick.

The club even tried its hand at securing exiled Crows forward Kurt Tippett before he eventually opted for the other side of town, settling with the Swans. At the end of the day, the ever-growing supporter base in Western Sydney will pay their money to see a successful brand of footy. It’s imperative the Giants blood the next generation of AFL stars rather than spend their resources on quick fixes.

The 2012 season unearthed a range of talented footballers that have a bright future. Jeremy Cameron, Tomas Bugg and more remarkable Toby Greene all made strong impressions in their first year of senior football. Top draft choice Jonathon Patton made his debut mid-season but left a huge footprint on the game, even with limited game time. Former Melbourne youngster Tom Scully also had a solid season and should only get better with the quality that he has around him.

Lachie Whifield, Jonathan O’Rourke and Lachie Plowman all join the club courtesy of their draft concessions and should all get some first team football this season. The emergence of these bright youngsters should only improve the form of the AFL’s newest club.

Whilst it’s imperative that the Giants focus on their own gradual improvement in 2013, it would be foolish to neglect the recent success of another code in Sydney’s west. The Western Sydney Wanderers are already an on-field as well as off-field success for the A-League in just their first season.

They have managed to attract regular five-figure crowds and are legitimate title contenders in their very first season. While you can’t compare the sports directly, the Giants could take a leaf out of the Wanderers’ book as their second season rapidly approaches. That club as much as any typifies what GWS should aim to become in the near future.

It’s well documented that the crowds of the Giants were lower than what the AFL would have expected so it’s important that the club shows some on-field improvement this season to build its fan base.

It’s natural that the media will compare this upcoming season to the second season of the Gold Coast Suns, the AFL’s other newest expansion club. It’s been well documented that the Suns won just three games in 2012, well down on some lofty predictions. Their crowds also slid by nearly an average of 5,000 people, highlighting how much work they still have to do.

Certain sections of the footy media expected more for the Suns so it’s a challenge for the Giants to raise the bar in 2013. If last year is anything to go by, GWS should be able to put in another solid year.

While it’s imperative to be achieving successful results, these early years are what will set the club up for life. If the Giants can at least match the three games that the Suns won in their second year and solidify their crowds, it would have been a highly-productive year.