The AFL’s 17th side, to join the competition next season, has been unveiled as the Gold Coast Suns.
It may have been no surprise after weeks of speculation but it didn’t make it any less historic when the Gold Coast unveiled their nickname as well as colours, playing strips and song at a Southport celebration dinner.
With AFL boss Andrew Demetriou looking excitedly on, the Suns moniker and logo was revealed as well as their team colours of red, yellow and blue on their home, away and clash playing strips.
The franchise formally known as GCFC were initially going to push ahead without a nickname, and had spent their infancy with a mascot resembling a beefed up lifesaver.
But the club – which makes its historic AFL debut in 2011 – finally bowed to pressure from supporters and almost 7,000 members.
GCFC chairman John Witheriff claimed they came up with the name after “countless hundreds of hours”.
The man who first pitched the Gold Coast club idea two years ago, Witheriff appeared to be pinching himself on Thursday night.
“We have arrived. It certainly helps to dream,” Witheriff said.
“And we have listened to the community and they told us they wanted a nickname for the club, one that reflects our values and is symbolic of our home.
“Tonight I can say we have captured the very essence of the Gold Coast.”
Suns coach Guy McKenna described the night as the “birth of the football club in an AFL sense”.
Demetriou looked like a proud dad.
“I have got no doubt this is going to be a very long and an exciting journey – and tonight we take another important step,” he said.
“We have come a long way since our first game in 1858 – now our game is about to write a new and exciting chapter in its rich and proud history.”
Their prized recruit – code hopper Karmichael Hunt – displayed one of the new guernseys.
The new logo boasts the same “GC” used to date with sun rays coming over the top and “Suns” underneath.
The home strip is the same predominantly red design currently used by the VFL team with yellow side panels.
The away strip is the red design again, with a yellow wave crashing down while the clash guernsey boasts a blue wave with a white backdrop.
Breaking from AFL tradition, the team song was not a re-working of another tune.
The song “The Suns of the Gold Coast Sky” uses original lyrics and melody.
Hunt has been cutting his teeth in the VFL and will play his fifth game after being named for the Gold Coast’s weekend clash with Sandringham.
The team also features Geelong premiership winner Nathan Ablett who is playing for a Gold Coast AFL contract.
Although named in a back pocket, Hunt is expected to rotate through the midfield for the first time in his budding Aussie Rules career.
“I am slowly getting used to it, the more games I play and the more training sessions I am getting involved in, I am starting to pick it up,” Hunt said.
“It’s a great group of players. They are all striving to be AFL athletes and it’s great to be able to chime into the group – it’s an exciting time to be involved.”