Ward is proud of the GWS record, club culture
It helps establish an AFL club and culture that Callan Ward is most proud of as he reflects on the doubt, heartache of the Grand Final and the 171 games leading up to Saturday’s milestone.
Ward will overtake Jeremy Cameron and reclaim his status as the all-time GWS record holder when he tackles Essendon at Giants Stadium.
The no-frills midfielder has been the heart and soul of the Giants since the age of 21, when Kevin Sheedy helped convince him to leave Western Bulldogs and become co-captain of the start-up.
Much has changed since then for the 31-year-old, whose selflessness best comes down to the support he instilled in his teammates throughout the 2019 Finals, despite being sidelined with a serious knee injury.
Ward is now a father and former skipper, while GWS no longer trains on a baseball field or based on the Rooty Hill RSL.
“It’s definitely not a complete mission because we didn’t win a grand final,” Ward said.
“But when it comes to starting a football club, it looks like an elite professional sports club.
“A lot of players have signed long contracts.
“Every time I think about where we’ve come from … and where we are now, it fills me with pride and happiness.
“There aren’t too many people who could possibly understand how far we’ve come. It’s very difficult to understand, unless you really were there.”
Ward has no regrets about moving to Sydney, but admitted moments of doubt during the expansion club’s loss-laden second year.
“I kind of thought ‘we’ve backed off here,’” he said.
“You wonder. You hear things on the outside” the giants won’t survive, what did they do, the AFL drunk. “
“You doubt it a bit.
“The playgroup stayed very strong … (in season four the team thought they could) compete with the best teams in the AFL, and that’s when you really start to realize that you made the right choice. “
The lifelong member of GWS feared the end was near, having undergone knee reconstruction in 2019, then suffered more setbacks and struggled to find form in 2020.
But, having enjoyed a promising start to the season, Ward is far from considering retirement and wants to continue playing beyond the end of his current contract which runs until the end of 2022.
“There is no doubt that I am looking forward to playing as long as possible,” he said.
“I am convinced that I can play a lot longer than two more years.”
MOST AFL GAMES FOR GWS
171 – Callan Ward, Jeremy Cameron
165 – Toby Greene
161 – Phil Davis
152 – Stephen Coniglio, Heath Shaw.