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Suns rise for the 100th time in the AFL

Danny Stanley, Jack Hutchins and team mates of the Suns celebrate victory after Justin Westhoff of Port missed a goal to win during the AFL Round 05 match between Port Adelaide Power and the Gold Coast Suns at AAMI Stadium, Adelaide.
Suns players celebrate the club's first AFL win against Port Adelaide in 2011

GOLD Coast will play its 100th AFL match on Sunday, against the same club it faced in its inaugural match at the Gabba four years ago.

On April 2, 2011, the AFL's newly-formed 17th club took the field against Carlton and was demolished by 119 points.

Rookie coach Guy McKenna and captain Gary Ablett both looked as if they'd been hit by a truck in the post-match press conference.

Since that night, much water has passed under the bridge as the Suns again prepare to take on the Blues at Etihad Stadium in another landmark encounter.

Gold Coast grew from humble beginnings following then AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou's announcement in 2008 it would become the competition's newest club in 2011.

The Suns played in the TAC Cup in 2009, the VFL in 2010 and redeveloped the old Gold Coast Stadium at Carrara to what is now Metricon Stadium in preparation for their debut season.

They were granted a host of concessions to help establish their playing list, including selecting twelve 17-year-olds to play in the VFL year, and nine of the top-15 selections at the 2010 NAB AFL Draft.

They signed rugby league star Karmichael Hunt in a huge coup for a sport fighting for every dollar, spectator and bit of media interest in south-east Queensland.

Then came the game's biggest fish, Gary Ablett, on a five-year deal in another massive boost to the fledgling club.

So much has happened in the past four years - AFL.com.au has taken a look back at the Suns' journey to date.

The best of times

1. First ever win over Port Adelaide

April 23, 2011 will long live in the memory of Gold Coast players, staff and supporters. A late Luke Russell goal and Justin Westhoff miss after-the-siren helped the Suns overturn a 40-point deficit and record their first ever victory.

2. Karmichael tames Tigers after the siren

Who could forget the heroics of Karmichael Hunt on that balmy July night in Cairns in 2012? The highly-publicized rugby league convert showed nerves of steel to convert a 30m set shot after the siren to give the Suns a two-point win and end a 21-game losing streak in the process.

3. Gazza wins club's first Brownlow

He came to the Gold Coast as the game's best player and Gary Ablett continued to amaze, winning his second 'Charlie' – and first as a Sun – in 2013. His dramatic victory came after overtaking good friend Joel Selwood in the final round with three votes for his 33-disposal, four-goal game against GWS.


4. Heroic win over Collingwood

When Ablett was carried off just after half-time in round 16, 2014, not many gave the Suns a chance of over-running Collingwood. But despite having no players on the bench in the final quarter, Gold Coast mustered the courage to record a heroic five-point win in front of a record 24,032 spectators at Metricon Stadium.

5. Jaeger proves the bomb

Just weeks after Ablett won his Brownlow, teenage sensation Jaeger O'Meara was crowned the NAB AFL Rising Star winner for 2013. The West Australian prodigy played every game in his first season, averaging 22 disposals and getting the nod over Adelaide's Brad Crouch.


The worst of times

1. Brown gets the boot

A pre-season training camp to the United States turned sour late in 2013 when veteran Campbell Brown broke teammate Steven May's jaw in a dust-up outside a Los Angeles nightclub. Upon returning to Australia, Brown was sacked.

2. Ablett's shoulder injury spells the end

On the same night as its improbable win over Collingwood, Ablett was carted off with a dislocated shoulder. The Suns captain missed the final seven games of 2014, and with him went their finals aspirations, which had almost seemed a formality.

3. Bock betting leak

Vice-captain Nathan Bock put a black mark on the new club's name when he was suspended for two games and fined $10,000 for a leak of information in 2011. Defender Bock told family members and friends he would play forward in the final round against Hawthorn. He kicked the first goal and they profited by $40,000, leading to the sanctions.


4. Booze brothers suspended

The club implemented a simple policy around the consumption of alcohol prior to this season – none was to be consumed six days prior to a match. Following the round five win over the Brisbane Lions, Harley Bennell, Trent McKenzie, Brandon Matera and Danny Stanley broke that rule and were suspended for a week.

5. Bluey's last hoorah

After being with the club since its inception, coach Guy McKenna was shown the door following last season's horrible fade-out. You can argue the validity of the decision, but the club's failure to give an adequate explanation for his dismissal – most notably chairman John Witheriff on the day of the sacking – left the AFL world scratching its head.

Club records

Most games Jarrod Harbrow (87)

Leading goalkicker Gary Ablett (99)

Biggest win 83 points - round 23, 2013 v GWS

Biggest loss 150 points - round 20, 2011 v Geelong

Biggest crowd 49,069 v Adelaide, round 11, 2014

Biggest crowd at Metricon 24,032 v Collingwood, round 16, 2014

Season by season 2011, 17th, 3-19; 2012, 17th, 3-19; 2013, 14th, 8-14; 2014, 12th, 10-12.

Wooden spoons 2011

Best and fairest winners 2011 Gary Ablett; 2012 Gary Ablett; 2013 Gary Ablett; 2014 David Swallow

Top 10 games records

87 – Jarrod Harbrow

85 – Trent McKenzie

81 – Dion Prestia

80 – Danny Stanley

78 – Michael Rischitelli, Gary Ablett, Matt Shaw