Gold Coast SUNS member Brandon Gardiner is on a mission to convert everyone he knows into being a SUNS supporter, whether that be his girlfriend, his mates, or even a professional, American poker player.
“I was in America about two months ago, filming for the World Series of Poker and I was working with some professional poker players,” Gardiner, who works in production, told SUNS Media.
“So, I said to this one guy ‘oh, you should start watching AFL games today’ and I gave him a SUNS polo shirt to wear.
“He started wearing it to the tournament and said he's on board and ordered his own jersey. So, the recruitment process has gone well.”
At the moment, Gardiner has set his sights on his family and is determined to be a positive influence on his young nephew.
“I grew up a Brisbane Lions supporter and switched over when the SUNS came into the league,” he said.
“So, my father bought my little nephew some Brisbane Lions pyjamas recently. And I was like, ‘Okay, it's war.’
“I've just been buying every single SUNS thing that I can get, and I got him pyjamas straightaway to send over to him with little, mini footballs. So, he's been the number one target for me.”
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Gardiner is a devout SUNS member and AFL fan, and he has the ink to prove it.
“It was the year of Hawthorn playing West Coast in the Grand Final and the AFL was running a competition to find the most dedicated supporter,” said Gardiner.
“You had to prove or show some way that you were the most dedicated and I happen to know a friend who was into AFL and was a tattoo artist.
So, I got the tattoo of the premiership cup and the AFL slogan that year – ‘all for the finals’ – and lo and behold, I was selected as the winner.
“I got to go and watch the Grand Final, since I was flown down with a mate and it was great. It was the best $200 I've ever spent.”
Nowadays, Gardiner is based in Victoria but still makes it his mission to go to as many SUNS games as he can.
“It's hard to beat the experience of being there and riding the highs and lows with other like-minded people, who are as invested as I am in the team,” he said.
“I'm very vocal, and I like to yell, chant and scream when I'm at the football. It's not necessarily the same when you're at home on your own yelling and screaming.
“Also, it's just an excuse to go out and have a fun day. It's proven to be a really good bonding exercise for me and my girlfriend and my friends as well, and it's something that's brought us close together as well.”
Gardiner confirms the calibre of the SUNS team as a united front, as he is yet another member who struggles to pick just one player as his favourite.
“I really do like Touk (Miller). I've also really enjoyed watching (Mabior) Chol and (Matt) Rowell is also great,” said Gardiner.
“I really like Sam Collins as well. I mean, I love them all. If I had to say one it'd be Touk.
“He's a really nice guy, but there's so many who are close behind.”
Gardiner’s love for Touk Miller runs deep, as he is also the brains behind the ingenious “You Touk My Breath Away” banner. Although, the banner has since been misplaced and out of action.
“We went to the MCG one day. I guess a few too many cordials and I just put it down on the ground, then just left without it,” reminisced Gardiner.
“I tried contacting the SUNS and I contacted the MCG, but it's disappeared.
“I'm kind of hoping that one day I’m just watching the TV and there it is or I'm at a game and see somebody using it.
“I'm working on some other ones, but it's hard to come up with good puns for players. So, stay tuned on that front.”
After being a SUNS member for so long, Gardiner has enjoyed his time as a member of the SUNS community and has gathered fond memories along the way.
“The first thing that comes to mind is from when I was in the States earlier in the year and I stayed up to four o'clock in the morning watching the game against Richmond where they won after the siren,” Gardiner recalled.
“The best live memory and the best game I ever went to was last year when the SUNS beat Richmond at Marvel Stadium, where we didn't look like we would win, and we just somehow plucked the win out of thin air.
“It was just so good. I remember leaving the stadium and we were jumping for joy.”
As he looks to the future, Gardiner is hopeful and excited about what his favourite team is going to bring to the table.
“I truly think that next year we will make the finals and I'm really looking forward to seeing them take that next step,” said Gardiner.
“I think they're so close and that the team is in a really great place. So, I'm looking forward to going to that finals game and being there for the first time they ever played in the finals.”