Groundhog Day: Gold Coast Suns slipping below mediocrity again, so why should we care?

When you've been writing and talking professionally about football for 40 years, it's easy to get cynical. Or in my case, even more cynical.

So I'll admit there's the odd AFL game now which struggles to pique my interest, games which I'm prone to tag the 'Who Cares?' Cup. And what I haven't been able to help but notice lately, is just how many of those seem to involve Gold Coast.

You could argue that's about a still-newish franchise in a non-traditional football environment. But then GWS falls into that category, and there's nonetheless been times, like the Giants' unlikely march to a Grand Final berth in 2019, that they've captured the footy public's imagination.

No, in Gold Coast Football Club's 13th AFL season, this is as much about the "Groundhog Day"-like feel of its current situation. It's like the Suns' problems both on and off the field keep playing on a loop to both an increasingly frustrated and diminishing bunch of locals, and an increasingly sceptical band of outsiders.

Here we are again, with the Suns sitting 16th on the ladder, a miserable 1-4, coach Stuart Dew under pressure, and more talk about key players potentially headed out the door.

Gold Coast plays North Melbourne at home on Sunday. The Roos' early successes have dried up and their confidence took a battering last week in a 75-point thumping at the hands of Brisbane.

If the Suns can't bank an expected victory this week, they can already just about kiss goodbye any prospect of success in 2023. Which obviously delays further the prospect of any lasting success either on the field, or as an entire football operation. Heard that line before? Yep. It's wash, rinse, repeat.

Two things, however, make the current malaise perhaps even more galling. One is the fact Gold Coast is coming off its best-ever season, 10 wins, a finish of 12th and with finals this year in 2023 having been a very achievable goal.

The other is the hype generated by last week's Gather Round in South Australia. That was a venture which logically should have been based in a developing Australian rules football region, not one long-established in which interest and success was pretty much a given.

The cynic in me (and in plenty of others, it should be said) can't help but think the always optics-conscious AFL would have been a lot more prepared to venture into less-established territory like southern Queensland were the Suns creating any sort of buzz at all.

And you sure can't say that at the moment. Gold Coast's season began with a whimper at home, smashed by 49 points against Sydney.

The Suns have been hammered by 53 points by St Kilda away, and tellingly given away two more games against Essendon and Fremantle in which they were well-placed both times, conceding six of the last seven goals against the Bombers, and last week against the Dockers seven of the last nine, tell-tale signs of how easily the Suns raise the white flag.

Also tellingly, the speculation about the coach and his players has begun again. That's despite the fact Dew's contract was extended only midway through last season.

Dew's contract now expires at the end of 2024. That's also the time key forward Ben King's current deal expires, and now there's talk of him heading to Collingwood. This after the departure of Izak Rankine at the end of last year. And the steady stream of talent leaving the club is another recurring theme of the Suns' history.

The few constants in terms of on-field performance are the same names week after week. Miller. Witts. Swallow. Collins. Rowell. Anderson. Lukosius.

When Gold Coast did briefly get on a roll mid-season last year, there was at least some excitement being created by the likes of Joel Jeffrey and Malcolm Rosas. Both, however, ran into injury issues. And neither this year has recaptured that form.

And that's another recurring theme. Emerging players showing brief periods of promise only to disappear again, whether through form or injury. Ditto senior pick-ups like Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult, while Brandon Ellis has only just returned to the mix.

More of the same. Indeed, is there anything about the Suns which excites?

Their home guernsey has always reminded of other clubs' training jumpers, with a cheesy logo which looks more corporate than sporting. Their away strip? Well, that's always reminded me more of a packet of washing powder.

Theme song? Instantly forgettable. Fight, fight, fight. Run, run, run. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Seriously, that could have been spat out of a computer. At least we all know the Giants' song, don't we?

And yes, it's easy to take pot shots at a soft target like Gold Coast. But how long does this venture need to continually dither on the field and off it before the AFL admits defeat?

The Suns' players seem to do that routinely. Why should anyone else with a vested interested, be they administrators, fans or crusty old footy commentators, behave any differently?

You can read more of Rohan Connolly's work at FOOTYOLOGY.