My Swans Family

by William Pascoe (Grade 8)

My grandmother was raised as a South Melbourne supporter. Unluckily, she was born the year after South won the 1933 premiership. South Melbourne were one of the great teams at the time but when she was a young girl that came to came to a halt. They missed the finals in 1946 after losing the infamous ‘Bloodbath Grand Final’ in 1945.

She stayed loyal to the Bloods throughout their finals drought until 1970 and again in 1977 when they finished fifth.

My father was born in 1960 and was raised as a South supporter as well, as were his two brothers born in 1962 and 1966 and twin sisters born in 1971. All die-hard Swans fans they supported South as kids and, though disappointed, followed them through their move to Sydney in 1982, 49 years after the Swans last premiership.

Then it came to the year 1996. The Swans finished top of the ladder and looked like potential premiership winners after a 63 year drought. They won the first qualifying final against Hawthorn by a goal in a thriller, but North Melbourne who finished second on the ladder won their final against Geelong easily. Two weeks later playing Essendon in a preliminary final the Swans scraped through by a single point with the help of Tony Lockett’s huge point after the siren. My father took my elder brother who had just turned two to the Grand Final between North and South. The Swans outplayed North in the first quarter and lead by 18 points at quarter-time only for North to come back and win by 43 points. My Father then walked five kilometres home crying all the way.

 

It all started up again in 2005. My uncle joined the board of the Swans and all of the family was still supporting them, of course. My grandmother who has given the swans craze to the family had five kids who were all married and eight grandchildren (with another five still to come!).  At the end of the home and away season the Swans were fourth on the ladder and went over to Perth to play the qualifying final against West Coast. They lost in a cliff-hanger against them.

 

The next week they played in Sydney against Geelong. They were down by 23 points early in the fourth quarter. My mother repeatedly told me to go to bed thinking we were going to lose. I didn’t listen to a word she said and stayed up to watch the rest of the match. My mother was then proved wrong  by Nick Davis coming to save us with four final-quarter goals to get us over the line by three points. Then two days after my sixth birthday we played against St Kilda in the preliminary final. There was a bet on at the time between my aunty and uncle-in- law, that uncle was the only in-law who did not agree to follow the Swans tradition and kept supporting St Kilda. My aunty was pregnant and the bet was that the winner of that final the child would barrack for. At three quarter time the Saints were up by seven points, but the Swans stormed home to win by 31 points.

 

We then met West Coast in the Grand Final. I sat with all of my Swans relatives at the game. It was close all game and very low-scoring, leading by just two points at three-quarter time. It came down to the last 30 seconds, Leo Barry kicked out from the back pocket straight to Dean Cox who then Kicked straight back in. I saw everyone jump up. Being only 6 I could not see over anyone. I thought all the people who had jumped up were West Coast supporters. Then I heard the siren and realised that Leo had taken the mark.

 

My grandmother and the rest of my family had seen us win a premiership for the first time. My whole family was ecstatic and my father was crying. I almost felt guilty that I only had to wait six years but for my Grandmother it had taken 71 years for her to see one.  She was absolutely thrilled. She saw her mighty Bloods win with all of her family.

 

 

Comments

  1. Tony Morwood says:

    Thanks Will, a great story of your family’s journey following the Swans. Will’s family are personal friends of mine, with his father Andrew sitting on the Swans Foundation Board with me, their passion is everlasting!

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    William,

    I read your piece up until you mentioned Nick Davis!

    I’m only kidding.

    Thanks for a enjoyable read.

    We can all relate to the 5km walk home!

    Scotch played Melbourne Grammar 155 years ago today.

    Is that right?

    Cheers,

    Peter

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Oh, William, I can relate to this so much. What a great story of passing down the Bloods passion and living it together.

    I too am a mad Swannies fan, but the first in my family. My Dad’s French and they don’t know anything about AFL in France. And Mum’s just not sporty. So I think of myself a little more like your grandma – the first to pass the baton.

    When you’d just turned 6 before the prelim, my son was turning 1, the day before the Grand Final in fact. We had a red and white birthday party for him in the park, with all of our family and all of our friends and all of their kids wearing red and white. We went to a friend’s place for the second half and I was playing toy cars and zoo animals with all the kids in their hallway – I was too nervous to watch. But we ran into the living room for the last two minutes and saw that mark!! A year later, when my son was not quite 2, we took him to the losing grand final against the Eagles. He even became an Eagle for 3 years!! You can imagine me wanting to cry about that! But I was patient and he came around when he was about 5. Phew!

    It’s truly great how family memories seem to string together a time line of footy moments and vice versa too – footy moments remind you of your family’s various stages. They feed off each other and bring each other to life. You’ve captured that really well. I’m so glad your grandma got to experience that Grand Final win with all her family around her and clearly you’re continuing her footy passions! Have fun with it and keep writing about it.

    Looks like we may be in for another good year … Fingers crossed, huh?

  4. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Terrific story William. The last decade has been a great for the Bloods after so many lean years and tribulations. Back-to-back flags are hard to achieve, but I think the Swannies are a real chance if they can stay fit for the finals.

  5. As a Sydney-sider who has supported the Swans for about 1/2 her life (only 22 years) I love to hear these fantastic stories of generations of Swans loving families. It is what makes our club unique.
    Great story Will. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

  6. Great yarn William. I have very mixed feelings about your Bloods. My parents came across from SA and honeymooned at the Healesville Hotel in 1954 (they went down to Melbourne to see John Coleman play and my 81YO Dad still talks animatedly about him). They met a Melbourne couple also on their honeymoon (can you imagine when Healesville was a trip away) – Neil and Nancy Ferguson – and ‘Fergy’ (Uncle Neil) is one of the greatest characters of my life.
    He was a ‘mad’ (in the best sense of the word) Swans supporter; sports nut; punter; raconteur and bon vivant (over a long glass of Abbots Lager).
    Every couple of years we would go to Melbourne for a holiday and Fergy took me to my first VFL game (Lakeside Oval in about 1967 where I marvelled at Bobby Skilton); VFL Final (a Collingwood Richmond First Semi around 1970) and Boxing Day Test (Thommo’s wicketless debut). He introduced me to the history of the Labor Party and the trials of the working man.
    So I always kept a soft spot for the Swans through all their travails – until 2005!! Now an Eagles supporter, the Avenging Eagle and I flew to Adelaide and drove from their with friends. I remember the finish very differently to you, but somehow I couldn’t begrudge such a great club and bunch of players (except Barry Hall). I knew Fergy was raising an Abbots Lager and regaling St Peter with Bob Pratt stories.
    We evened up a year later, so all was forgiven. I barracked my heart out for you last year (sorry Mrs Wrap and Trucker Slim) and it was a typical Blood Soaked Angels effort. The Melbourne people like your family that have kept the faith in exile are the salt of the earth in our footy stew. Great to read that you are keeping the passion and the memories alive.
    NOTE TO CYGNET: Don’t listen to your Mum. You were on the right track after 2006 and there are lots of ice creams and a blue and gold scarf waiting for you when you return to the fold.

  7. Linda Bassett says:

    Great work, William! Just the first of a series of fine essays you’ll be able to write about your life with the Swans, no doubt.

    I learned at least two things about Swans finals footy from your article – 1) you can count on the Swans to play their hearts out until the final siren, and 2) your father should always carry a handkerchief.

    Also – I’m so happy your cousin didn’t end up having to barrack for St Kilda!

  8. William – brilliant stuff. I have an uncle who was born in 1934. Very hard core South Melbourne/Swans man. In 2005 when they got up he (apparently) shed a tear also. Football is amazing isn’t it?

    I’m like Peter Flynn (above). The thought of Nick Davis beating my beloved Cats is still hard to take.

    Well done.

  9. Neil Anderson says:

    William, the Bulldogs have taken over the longest wait for another premiership from the Swans. When we read how sweet it was in 2005 for people like you and your family, we know the next one for us is worth waiting for.
    If I have done my sums correctly you are now about fourteen years old but have captured the history of your Swan’s family so well.
    You have a great future as an Almanacker.

  10. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Keep out of it Peter B! I only just found those blue and gold socks his father bought him on a work trip to Perth (in an effort to be a very liberal, open minded, ‘he can follow who he likes’ parent). They went straight in the give-away bag. The Cygnet is following William!

  11. Will,

    I can totally relate to your life and your perspective on the Swans.
    My Grandad was also born after 1933, and the family, including my dad and his brothers ritually traveled to Lake Oval to stand on milk crates to watch the bloods play. Protests and ‘Keep South at South’ meetings proved to no avail and the family was devastated when the Swans flew north.

    Even though this happened 13 year before I was born, I still feel a very spiritual connection to the Swans and their South Melbourne roots. I’ve always called myself a SWANS supporter, not a SYDNEY supporter.

    I was eleven in 2005, and was also lucky enough to get a ticket to the big game. I remember the build up so vividly, but the game was just a blur. Everything was either terribly frustrating or perfectly exciting. Leo’s mark was incredible. I didn’t hear the siren, but when I saw people jumping all over each other and my father was crying, I knew we had won it. An old fellow I was sitting next to – probably around 72 – gave me the biggest hug ever and as he leaned into me, I said “I’ve been waiting 72 years for that” and then we laughed.

    2012 was just as incredible. I never imagined that the boys would make it that far, or that I would ever get to see another Grand Final victory live, but heck, they proved me wrong.

    You and I are rare supporters, the Swans are a different team than what my Father grew up supporting, but they still recognize that ‘young’ old South fans like you and me still exist, and still love this team to bits.

    Cobba.

  12. A very poignant last paragraph Will. My dad was 68 at the time and it was a magical moment for him

  13. G’day Will, Great to meet you at Scotch, and thanks for writing this ripper yarn. We would love to hear more about your grandmother. Why did she barrack for the Bloods? And maybe you could tell the story of other family bets involving your hundreds of uncles and aunts.

  14. Great story Will. Like Neil, I am a Doggies’ man and look forward to that moment when we break our drought. I’ve known John Longmire since before he played his first game of VFL/AFL footy and was rapt when he played in the ’99 flag for North and just as rapt when he coached your Swans to a a premiership last year. Now can you please stop winning them until we get one?!

  15. Chris Bracher says:

    Good on you Will. I know your Dad and Uncle and they should be rightly proud of your footy passion and skill with the “pen”. The Scotch connection with our Bloods is now represented by 2 fine young men: Nick Smith (40) and Will Pascoe.

  16. Hey Will…
    It looks like the Swans are going to take a power of beating this year also.
    Great stuff…
    Cheers
    Smokie.

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