Saturday 14 April 2018, the Gold Coast SUNS played the West Coast Eagles at Perth Stadium. It was Round 4 and the conclusion of a double-barrel statistical anomaly in club history that is going to take some beating.

The SUNS had played back-to-back games in the WA capital, and the third and fifth games at the new stadium. And in doing so they wrote an odd double in the club history books.

The crowd of 51,774 that watched the SUNS’ play the Eagles was the first of 50,000-plus for a game involving the AFL’s 17th team.  It is still the biggest crowd in what is now a 285-game SUNS history, and by extension the club’s biggest ‘away’ crowd.

Harder to comprehend is the fact that the crowd of 33,388 for the game against Fremantle a week earlier is officially listed as the SUNS biggest ‘home crowd’.

No, the AFL statisticians have not lost their marbles. 

The SUNS ‘sold’ the Round 3 clash to Fremantle as part of a campaign to combat the intrusion of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the club’s home stadium at Carrara.

With what was then Metricon Stadium unavailable until June, the club transferred four designated ‘home’ games under a series of strategic partnerships to offset a significant financial impost.

They also played the Round 1 game against North Melbourne in Cairns, the Round 8 game against Melbourne at the Gabba and the second game against Port Adelaide in China in Round 9.

And while the twin visit to Perth did not produce the on-field results that new coach Stuart Dew was looking for, it will forever be a part of club history.

In what is a walk down memory lane for long-standing SUNS supporters and a history lesson for more recent additions to the club ‘family’, Perth Stadium was the 17th different ground to host the SUNS.

In their first season in 2011 they played at eight different venues - the Gabba, Docklands, Adelaide’s Football Park, Carrara, Subiaco in Perth, York Park in Launceston, Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns, Geelong’s Kardinia Park and the MCG in 2011.

The list stretched further in 2012 when the club played for the first time at Manuka Stadium in Canberra and Marrara Stadium, in 2013, when they visited Sydney’s SCG headquarters, and in 2014 when Adelaide Oval took over as the ‘home’ of football in South Australia.

GWS’ Sydney Showground followed in 2016 before China’s Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai and Traeger Park in Alice Springs did likewise in 2018.

Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium was the 18th different venue in round 7 of 2019, followed by Townsville’s Riverway Stadium in 2019, Hobart’s Bellerive Oval in 2021 and Norwood Oval in Adelaide in the AFL’s first ‘Gather Round’.

Summit Sports Park in Mt.Barker, a picturesque setting in the Adelaide Hills, will be the 22nd different ground to host the SUNS when they play the GWS Giants in Gather Round #2 on Sunday. The ground squeezed in a sell-out crowd of 7329 for its first AFL game last yearn between Brisbane and North Melbourne.

Other Round 4 highlights across the SUNS journey include:-

A Brownlow Blitz

In 2016 Tom Lynch completed a four-game Brownlow Medal blitz when he polled two votes in Round 4 against Brisbane at the Gabba after having polled consecutive two-votes in Rounds 1-2-3.

Lynch opened the season with hauls of 4-5-4-5 goals – the best four-game streak in club history.

Another SUNS 100-gamer

In Round 4 2017 Gary Ablett became the SUNS’ fifth 100-game player, celebrating with a 27-point Docklands win over Carlton.

Ablett was the 39th player in AFL history to play 100 games at two different club, and seven years on, with the list of twin 100-gamers having reached 54, he is one of just eight to have won best & fairest honors at both clubs. He won two at Geelong and four at the Gold Coast.

The first was one-time Southport ruckman Gary Dempsey, who played 207 games with the Western Bulldogs and 122 at North Melbourne, winning six B&F’s at the Dogs and one at the Roos.

Others have been Tony McGuinness (Bulldogs/Adelaide), Peter Bell (Fremantle/North), Chris Judd (West Coast/Carlton), Bernie Vince (Adelaide/Melbourne), Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide/Geelong) and Lachie Neale (Fremantle/Brisbane).

In the same game Tom Lynch was the second SUNS player after Charlie Dixon to kick seven goals in a game and the first to top 200 goals for the club.

A 100-Game Pre-Season Draftee

The second leg of the 2017 trip to Perth also produced a special milestone for one SUNS player, and a testing trivia question … who is the only Pre-Season Draftee to play 100 for the club.

It was Aaron Hall. Born in Hobart to a Fijian mother and an Australian father who in 1990 was drafted to the Sydney Swans, Hall was the first ‘live’ pick in the 2012 Pre-Season Draft after graduating from the Hobart Football Club, whether father Dale had played.

Hall was the SUNS’ 11th 100-gamer against West Coast in Perth in Round 4 2018. But he played only three more games for the club before finishing his career with 58 games at North Melbourne. He retired mid-season last year.

Most Kicks in a Game?

In 2012 Gary Ablett set a club record when he had 31 kicks in a game against Collingwood at the MCG as part of a monstrous 53-possession afternoon.

It was a record that that remains unbroken but was equalled in Round 4 2021 when Cairns junior Jack Bowes had 31 kicks and three handballs against Carlton at Carrara.

Another 100-Gamer

Ben Ainsworth became the SUNS’ 17th 100-gamer and the first from Gippsland Power in Round 4 2023 as the SUNS played St.Kilda at Marvel Stadium.

Originally taken at pick #4 in the 2016 AFL National Draft behind Andrew McGrath, Tim Taranto and Hugh McCluggage, he shared the moment with debutants Bailey Humphrey and Ned Moyle.

Ainsworth kicked his 81st goal in his 100th game and has since gone on to be the seventh SUNS player to play 100 games and kick 100 goals for the club. The others in order have been Tom Lynch, Gary Ablett, Brandon Matera, Sam Day, Alex Sexton and David Swallow.

Sexton is the only player to boast a 150 games/goals double for the club.