Giants midfielder Tom Green and former Sydney coach Paul Roos. Pictures: AFL Photos

FEW CLUBS antagonise their rivals as much as the Giants.

But perhaps no rival cops it from the Giants as much as the Swans.

Greater Western Sydney's prolific and pointed memes, aimed at rival clubs on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, reflect a social media trend that has long been a factor in American sports like basketball and college football.

However, the Giants have become perhaps the first AFL club to cultivate that brand on these shores. Plenty have since tried to follow; others have chosen to go down a different path. But, certainly, not everyone is happy.

The Swans, like few others, would have reason to be among them. Before this season's initial Sydney Derby, they were inundated by a series of videos, memes, barbs and graphics teasing them for one reason or another.

There was a Cooper Hamilton video where he goaded Sydney about its South Melbourne origins, a graphic showing 'Bloods Culture' being placed in the trash, and even a meme bantering about John Longmire's pronunciation of 'Coniglio'.

Ex-Sydney midfielder Ryan Clarke gave a glimpse of how the Swans perceived such antics, replying to one meme on Instagram with "shuuttuuuuup" before later commenting "you have no friends".

Sydney, for its part, has often referred to Greater Western Sydney as the 'Canberra Giants' on social media. However, its involvement in the ongoing exchanges between the two clubs have been few and far between. For the most part, the social media banter has been ignored by the club. Some might even say it's been treated like water off a swan's back.

But it was noted earlier this week that, for the first time in memory, the two teams subsequently didn't share a joint media opportunity leading into this Saturday's Sydney Derby.

Connor Idun and Chad Warner speak at the SCG on May 1, 2024 ahead of the Sydney Derby. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Sydney stressed there was no bad blood between the two clubs and that their football department schedules simply didn't align. They also pointed to having additional media commitments – celebrating the club's 150th birthday and reaching 70,000 members for the first time, and subsequently having to hold press conferences to recognise such milestones – as an additional complicating factor.

The Giants, however, thought there were more opportunities for both clubs to be collaborative. But they were ultimately satisfied with an alternative that allowed them to plan an open media session with their own players in lieu of a joint presser.

Longmire ended up hosting his press conference on Monday, Adam Kingsley was due to conduct his on Thursday before contracting COVID-19, while the AFL also commissioned a photo featuring Dane Rampe and Tom Green – as well as two NRL players – on Tuesday morning.

Chloe Molloy, Tom Harley and Callum Mills celebrating Sydney's 150th birthday on June 19, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Sydney has said little publicly on Greater Western Sydney's social media policy. But the club's 2005 premiership coach Paul Roos remarked earlier this year: "If I'm Adam (Kingsley), I'm walking into the media department and walking into the executive and saying enough is enough.

"It's time for Adam and the Giants to let their football speak for itself. If you get caught up in this garbage that they're doing at the moment, I don't think it does anything for your brand. Yeah, it's funny. But it's a credibility piece for me."

Giants star Green responded via his own podcast in the days following Roos' comments, saying: "Do you want to know my initials thoughts when I heard that clip? OK, boomer."

Roos' and Green's comments were reflective of the two clubs operating in different markets, targeting vastly different audiences. Although he no longer has current ties to the club, Roos embodies Sydney's traditional values. The Giants, much like Green, are happy being the AFL's youthful disrupters and, on this occasion, the noisy neighbours.

Indeed, in opposition to Roos' comments, the Giants argue their social media policy does plenty for the club's brand. In fact, between January and April this year, they had the highest social media growth of any side in the AFL and amassed in excess of 10,000 more new followers than Collingwood in second.

They have become renowned for their memes, have spawned countless copycats across the competition and have playfully reacted to the ribbing of opposition teams in defeat this season.

The club has also been able to separate its off-field demeanour from its on-field performance, particularly with Sydney.  Any such animosity that may exist outside the white lines – of which both sides tend to stress there is none – has yet to bleed into games.

Instead, while players have poked and prodded leading into such contests, the clashes have been fair and hard fought. The rivalry, even forgetting about the fun jawing beforehand, has mostly produced entertaining affairs.

Sam Taylor labelled Sydney as "chirpy" and "a bit smug" leading into this year's earlier encounter, though it was notable that there was little targeting of the star Giants defender during the game itself as the Swans eased to a comfortable 29-point win back in early May.

And, for what it's worth, Sydney's own Errol Gulden responded to Taylor's 'smug' comments by saying: "It's probably not far from the truth, to be honest. We definitely have a few boys who are pretty chirpy on the field."

Instead, what had played out on TikTok, Twitter and in a series of press conferences leading into the game remained on social media and no such tension lingered or even threatened to surface at the SCG.

Errol Gulden in action during Sydney's clash with GWS in round eight, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

It's a similar story at board level, where – despite the social media menace existing between the two sides – both clubs have worked together in representing their mutual interests in the AFL's competitive balance review and how it will impact Northern Academies in the future.

Though their cooperation in this field does come just a couple of years after the Swans sparked discussion among rival clubs when they bid on their neighbour's Academy prospect Harry Rowston at pick No.16 in the 2022 national draft. The Giants' subsequent reaction to that bid, caught live on broadcast cameras, caused just as much discussion among recruiters in the days afterwards.

But it could also be said that the off-field shenanigans between the Swans and the Giants are increasing the attention and hype around the game, with this season's first clash between the two sides drawing a mega attendance of 40,337 people.

That crowd figure was just a couple of hundred people short of the SCG record for Swans-Giants games, which came during the 2018 elimination final, and a significant increase on the average attendance of just over 31,000 from their last four meetings at the SCG.

The Giants, meanwhile, expect this Saturday afternoon's clash at Engie Stadium to become a sell-out imminently. Anything even close to that would go some way towards breaking the record for the largest home game in the club's history.

Given both sides are expected to be in premiership contention later this season, those supporters in attendance are bound to witness a spicy encounter. Just don't expect the on-field antics to be anything quite near the levels of what takes place on social media in the days leading into the game.