David Swallow and Sam Day are the great survivors of the Gold Coast SUNS. Chosen at pick #1 and pick #3 in the club’s first draft in 2010, they are the only two members of the foundation list still wearing red and yellow.

So as the weekly flashback series reaches Round 16, and the SUNS prepare to host Collingwood at People First Stadium on Saturday afternoon, it is entirely fitting that the headline story is one in which Swallow and Day were the driving forces in a bitter/sweet SUNS win over Collingwood in front of an all-time record home crowd.

It was Saturday 5 July 2014 as the eighth-placed SUNS took on the sixth-placed Magpies in a 4.40pm start. Gates were closed before the first bounce as 24,032 people gathered for the annual blockbuster.

Ironically, leading the Collingwood ruck division in his 20th game was a 21-year-old mop-haired Jarrod Witts. His back-up was a 20-year-old Brodie Grundy in his 19th game.

Tom Lynch kicked the first goal for the home side two minutes in and found Charlie Dixon on the lead for their second. But one minute into the second quarter they were 19 points down.

Aaron Hall snapped one across his body, Dixon jagged his second from long range and then Day kicked two in 90 seconds either side of halftime, both set up beautifully by skipper Gary Ablett. When Jack Martin found Lynch for his second the home side led by two points at 7-4 to 6-8.

And then disaster struck. Ablett was thrown to the ground in a tackle by Collingwood’s Brent Macaffer. His shoulder popped out. It was season over for the little master. But still the SUNS persisted, with a Harley Bennell snap leaving the home side six points up at three quarter time.

In the first minute of the final term Collingwood substitute Josh Thomas locked it up again. It was a moment spiced by the fact that Thomas, a Queenslander not wanting to go through the extended wait period with the expansion club, had knocked back a foundation SUNS contract in 2010 to take his chances in the open draft. And end up at Collingwood.

Day got his third goal before a brilliant Dion Prestia snap put the home side 13 points up midway through the third term. But again the injury curse struck. Trent McKenzie limped off with a hamstring strain to join Dixon (corked calf), Sean Lemmens (head gash/concussion) and Ablett (shoulder) out of the game.

There were still 20 minutes to play and the SUNS had nobody left on the bench. Their last two interchanges had been made in the first 90 seconds of the final quarter, and the final interchange count (before the introduction of a cap) was 78-105 to the Pies.

Paul Seedsman and Ben Kennedy goaled for Collingwood to cut the margin to four before Day found himself on the end of an errant clearing kick from the Collingwood backline. From 52m, with the game on the line, he slotted it.

The visitors had one last chance when Macaffer, running free 40m from goal in the pocket, unselfishly centred it to an unmarked Clinton Young 20m out straight in front. But inexplicably the 132-game ex-Hawk dropped it cold. And somehow the SUNS held on.

Swallow, only 21 and in his 66th game, picked up his first three-vote Brownlow Medal rating for a game-high 31 possessions, a team-high eight clearances, 11 contested possessions, seven marks, three tackles and five ruck hit-outs. Yes, a career-best five ruck hit-outs as he and Day supported Zac Smith in his 1 v 2 battle with Witts and Grundy.

Day, goalless in his previous six matches, was equal career-best with his four goals. He also had eight marks and three marks inside 50 to pick up his first two Brownlow votes.

Swallow led a midfield group that was so brave against their five-star Collingwood counterparts headed by Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan and Dayne Beams. Despite no rest in the final term, they won the key midfield indicators of clearances (39-30) and contested possessions (134-125).

Jaeger O’Meara (25 possessions) and Bennell (26) were strong four-quarter performers, Prestia (19) was magnificent in the final stanza after a quiet start, and Harbrow (26) led a backline that did a wonderful job holding to 75 points a desperate Collingwood side that had averaged 96 points a game that season.

It was a special occasion for the SUNS’ Collingwood cast-off Danny Stanley, who had his fourth 20-possession game against his former club in as many encounters, and Greg Broughton, who was a tower of strength early and had 22 possessions in his 100th AFL game.

The win left the Gold Coast in the top eight, a game ahead of ninth-placed Adelaide and 10th-placed Essendon, but sadly they won only one of their last seven to finish 12th.

The Ablett injury was a huge factor, and almost certainly cost him a third Brownlow. As would be revealed later, he had 22 votes going into the Round 16 game to lead Sydney’s Josh Kennedy (17) and Lance Franklin (15), Adelaide’s Patrick Dangerfield (15), West Coast’s Matt Priddis (14), Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe (14) and Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak (14) and Geelong’s Joel Selwood (12).

Despite not figuring in the last eight games – or 36% of the season – he finished third behind only Priddis (26) and Fyfe (25). He was equal with Franklin (22) and still ahead of Dangerfield (21), Selwood (21), Boak (21) and Kennedy (21).

Overall, the SUNS have had a 4-9 record in Round 16, but individually and collectively there have been some memorable moments, including the debut of Rory Thompson (2011), Josh Hall (2012), Hewago Oea and James Tsitas (2022). 


Karmichael Hunt, possibly Australia’s premier three-code sportsman, had his moment in the AFL sun in Round 16 2012 when the Gold Coast played their second game at Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns.

Ironically, now, it was against Richmond and third-year coach Damien Hardwick, who, in the first game in Cairns 12 months earlier, had lost to Gold Coast by 15 points after leading by 13 points at the last change.

In the re-match the SUNS led by two goals at quarter-time and four goals at halftime after two majors from multi-talented first-gamer Josh Hall, a Townsville junior rugby league player who 12 months earlier had missed by 2cm the high jump qualification for the 2012 London Olympics .

Richmond kicked 6-4 to 2-0 in the third quarter to lead by four points before Brandon Matera levelled the scores eight minutes into the last. The Tigers kicked the next three goals and looked home when Campbell Brown missed two gettable shots for the SUNS.

A long running shot from Josh Caddy which took a perfect off-break bounce in the goalsquare for full points gave the SUNS a sniff, before local boy Jarrod Harbrow thrilled a pro-SUNS crowd of 10,961 after receiving a handpass from Liam Patrick steaming out of the centre.

He took a bounce, juggled it, regathered just in time to step beautifully around a lunging Tigers defender, and nailed it on the run from 30m. With 90 seconds to play it was Richmond by four.

Gold Coast went forward and Matera found himself in space near the boundary line inside forward 50 and, seeing an unmarked Hunt, speared a left-foot pass to the man wearing #7 in red.

At 25 the former State of Origin and Test rugby league star was in his 31st AFL game. He would add a further 13 AFL games before switching codes again to crown an extraordinary sporting career with international selection in rugby union.

He’d seen it all, but this was massive. The SUNS were 0-14. Two weeks earlier they’d copped a 126- point hiding from West Coast in Perth and in Rounds 10-11 they’d lost by 97 and 95 to Collingwood at the MCG and St.Kilda at home.

Hunt, about 30m out on a 45-degree angle, took a couple of deep breaths and moved in. It started a little right but with a perfect draw sailed right of the goal umpire’s hat and almost before he could  take another breath he was mobbed. It was Gold Coast 13-12 (90) to Richmond 13-10 (88).

It was a dream start for Hall, and a massive relief for 17thgamer Caddy, whose 16 consecutive losses from debut prior to the Hunt heroics is still an unwanted club record. Ben King went 15 losses before his win in Round 2 2020 – the first game after the competition was shut down due to Covid.

Other SUNS to start at the club with double-figure losses have been Matthew Warnock (14), Steven May (13), Josh Corbett (12), Peter Wright (11), Campbell Brown (10), Dion Prestia (10), Kyal Horsley (10) and Charlie Ballard (10).


On 9 September 2010 Michael Rischitelli sat through perhaps the most awkward night of his football life. He was 24 and had just completed his seventh season with a Brisbane Lions side that was two years into a rebuild under coach Michael Voss. They’d finished 13th on a then 16-team ladder with a 7-15 record and gathered for the traditional club championship dinner.

Rischitelli, by then a 111-game veteran, had topped the Lions in possessions, contested possessions and clearances, and ranked third for tackles. He was always going to be a contender and as the count progressed found himself in a four-way tussle for the top award with the triple premiership trio of Simon Black, Luke Power and Jonathan Brown.

But it was an odd night for the former Western Jets midfielder, who had joined the Lions via pick #61 in the 2003 National Draft as the club’s fifth pick behind Llane Spaanderman (#18), Matthew Moody (#23), Jed Adcock (#33) and Tom Logan (#49).

Two days before the dinner he had announced that he was leaving the Lions to join the Gold Coast SUNS in 2011. He could have put it off but that wasn’t the Rischitelli way.

So when he polled 37.5 votes to beat Black (34.5), Brown (28.5) and Power (27.5) it made for one very tough acceptance speech. He broke down partway through and admitted “I didn’t think it was going to be this hard” before explaining why he’d declared his attentions.

He said it was because of the enormous support he’d received from his Brisbane teammates through his time at the club. “The announcement was for you guys. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said before polling 10 votes in the Brownlow Medal 10 days later to rank second behind Brown’s 12 in the Lions camp

It was a classy exit, as was recognised by Lions chairman Angus Johnson, and evidence of just why the SUNS had targeted him, and why he was a member of the club’s inaugural leadership group.

So it was with mixed emotions in Round 16 2016 that Rischitelli became the SUNS’ second 100-gamer behind Jarrod Harbrow. As fate would have it, the milestone came against Brisbane at People First Stadium. And, happily, the SUNS turned a 22-point quarter-time lead into a 26-point win.

Rischitelli became the 35th of what is now 55 players in AFL history to play 100 games for two clubs, and the first of three SUNS players, ahead of Gary Ablett in 2017 and Steven May this year.

But there was no big celebration. Rischitelli, 3rd-8th-5th in the SUNS B&F in 2011-14-15, blew out his knee in the opening minutes. It would be Round 17 2017 before he played his 101st SUNS game.

“Rischa” was described by then football boss Marcus Ashcroft as “the heartbeat of our club for many, many years” in the wake of what was a double injury blow, with Ablett suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the same game.

The 12-month layoff cost Rischitelli second place on the all-time AFL list for games in #35. He was never going to catch St Kilda’s Robert Harvey (379 games), but Geelong’s Paul Chapman (251), Collingwood’s Peter Daicos (250), Geelong’s Billy Goggin (248) and Carlton’s Peter Dean (248) were well within reach of popular 243-gamer.

The costly win over Brisbane also produced a goal-kicking first for the SUNS when Tom Lynch and Peter Wright each kicked five goals. It has happened only once since – against Geelong in Darwin this year when Jack Lukosius and Bailey Humphrey each bagged five.


It was becoming an annual event for a SUNS player to post his 100th game in Round 16. After Greg Broughton’s AFL ‘ton’ in 2014 and Michael Rischitelli’s SUNS 100 in 2016 Trent McKenzie followed in 2017. He was the 8th SUNS player to triple figures as they lost by 67 points to Sydney at the SCG.


The trend continued in 2018 when Rory Thompson, son of ex-Southport full forward Brett Thompson, became the second Queenslander and the 12th player overall to play 100 games. Sadly, it was another hollow celebration as they were beaten by 37 points by North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.


Damien Hardwick famously expressed his dislike for Marvel Stadium in May 2021. And two months later the three-time Richmond premiership coach disliked it even more after a landmark moment in Gold Coast history.

In Round 2021 at Marvel the Tigers fell to the SUNS by 10 points in a game in which the SUNS, under Stuart Dew, were in front at every change despite the fact that the lead changed hands six times.

Down by five points 17 minutes into the final quarter when ex-SUN Tom Lynch kicked his fifth, they got home 10-17 (77) to 10-7 (67) after Izak Rankine set up fourth-gamer Jeremy Sharp for a stroll-in major and Ben King accepted a Ben Ainsworth handpass to kick his fourth – and the clincher.

Described in the media at the time as “a signature win”, it knocked Richmond out of the top eight.

But to the Gold Coast, who sat 16th on the ladder going into the game, it was much more than four premiership points. It was the first time in club history they’d beaten the reigning premiers.

Eleven times they’d played the reigning premiers and 11 times they’d lost by an average 46.5 points.

Touk Miller received three Brownlow votes for a team-high 36 possessions, seven tackles and nine clearances. Charlie Ballard’s job in holding Jack Riewoldt to one goal earned him two votes and King’s four goals was worth one vote as ex-Tiger Brandon Ellis enjoyed his first win over the club where he’d shared in premiership success in 2017-19.

Three years on the SUNS’ record against the defending premiers is 2-12 after they beat Geelong by three points at People First Stadium in Round 3 last year. And with Collingwood heading to People First Stadium on Sunday afternoon they’ve got a chance to improve it still further.