GREATER Western Sydney were a whisker away from landing future Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell and Essendon skipper Dyson Heppell when building its list over a decade ago.
In a podcast series produced by the Giants to celebrate their 10-year anniversary, inaugural footy boss Graeme 'Gubby' Allan has revealed just how close they came to recruiting the star duo.
With a two-year runway to build a list into their first NAB AFL Draft in late 2011, Allan and the Giants were laying the groundwork 12 months earlier to get Heppell.
Prior to the 2010 draft they had spoken to Heppell about signing him after two years – the mandatory length of his first deal – as an uncontracted player. All GWS needed was for Brisbane to draft him with pick No.5, and the wheels would be in motion.
"We heard Heppell was going to get drafted by Brisbane, so he does two years at Brisbane, he's off contract, we can get an off-contract player for nothing," Allan told the Here Come The Giants podcast.
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"They might have got nothing, but we get an uncontracted player.
"It (the rule) was probably meant for the eight-, nine-, 10-year players.
"We thought we had the deal done. We made him a massive offer, but we needed him to go to Brisbane."
Alas for the Giants, the Lions selected Jared Polec, leaving Heppell to slide to Essendon at No.8, the club where he was a lifelong supporter.
"Then the phone call came, and I said 'yeah, I know, you're staying at Essendon, good luck', Allan chuckled.
Next came Mitchell, the son of Barry, giving Sydney first choice on him ahead of the 2011 draft.
The Giants had the first five picks in the draft, which they ultimately used on Jonathon Patton, Stephen Coniglio, Dom Tyson, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Matt Buntine.
But the teenager they craved was Mitchell.
"He was going to be the No.1 pick in the country and he was father-son to the Swans, and we would have taken him," Allan said.
"We made him a massive offer and said we'd pick him at (number) one.
"I probably knew we weren't going to get him."
Mitchell chose to go to the Swans, and was taken with pick No.21, and stayed there for the first five seasons of his career before moving to Hawthorn, where he became a Brownlow medallist in 2018.