Birthday boys stump Suns

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 20 Januari 2013 | 14.43

Young Gold Coast stars Harley Bennell (left) and David Swallow (centre), pictured running with Jaeger O'Meara, are among 17 Suns players who will celebrate their 21st birthday this year. Picture: David Clark Source: Gold Coast Bulletin

TWENTY One today, 21 today ... and next week and on NAB Cup Grand Final week, and dotted throughout the season and the finals.

It is party season on the Gold Coast with 17 Suns players preparing to celebrate their 21st birthdays.

It is a dilemma never before encountered by an AFL club and one the Suns admit to being a bit baffled by.

A committee planning the best course of action has been established that includes football operations manager Marcus Ashcroft, player welfare officer Sam Coen and football administration manager Kristy Hamson.

The 17 birthday boys have also met to discuss some proposals; three representatives will be elected to join the group that will make the final decision.

If it seems like overkill, consider it for a minute.

You can't let one player have a party and deny another.

Nor can you have 17 parties in a football season and hope to be also celebrating a few wins.

Even the dates that fall after the Grand Final, such as star duo David Swallow and Harley Bennell, coincide with the start of the next pre-season, the most physically taxing part of a footballer's year.

Then there is alcohol. Can you put a blanket ban on it without losing your players?

And what about all the 21sts of their best mates they'll be missing back in their home towns?

The options include having one group function after the NAB Cup or at season's end where the players can let their hair down, or a series of small individual dinners with the player's parents flown in for the occasion.

Ashcroft said the club's preference would be to host one major function prior to the start of the premiership season.

He said in that scenario alcohol would not be banned.

"It is a real dilemma, but it is also a great opportunity to get them all together for a group celebration,'' he said.

"Most of these guys came to us as 17-year-olds, they have been part of our family for a while now and we want to celebrate with them and for them.

"If you have 17 different dates, it would be hard to celebrate with families and mates because you are in season.

"They have been going pretty hard over summer and they have come a long way with their professionalism, we can work out a date that suits the players and has minimum impact from a conditioning point of view we think they deserve a party.

Summer Barometer: Click here for Suns training, injury latest

"We'll let them tell us what they want to do.''

Utility Steven May was the first to blow out the candles, celebrating his 21st birthday last week, smack bang in the middle of the first week of training after the Christmas break.

Not a good time for a bender for a player who is yet to cement himself in the club's best 22.

May said all the younger players understood the club could no longer afford to be critiqued any differently to other AFL side.

"The first two years I think everyone expected there would be growing pains, as the boys had to learn how to conduct themselves as professionals on and off the field,'' he said.

"Although most of us are still only in our early 20s, we've all had to fast-track our development and take a more mature approach to our football of our current senior players are now in the back-end of their careers and won't be around to guide us forever.

"Bluey (McKenna) said at the start of pre-season that we shouldn't to use the word 'young' any more around the club, he wants the players to be more accountable.''

Steven May at Gold Coast training. Picture: David Clark Source: Gold Coast Bulletin

Gold Coast Suns turning 21 in 2013.

10th Steven May
24th Luke Russell

5th Matt Shaw
13th Mav Weller
20th Jack Hutchins

4th Tom Nicholls
11th Brandon Matera

3rd Trent McKenzie

2nd Daniel Gorringe
17th Jeremy Taylor

6th Seb Tape

6th Sam Day
13th Jacob Gillbee

2nd Harley Bennell
12th Dion Prestia
31st Tom Lynch

19th David Swallow

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