Bloods land a winner



by Jake “Cobba” Stevens



If footy is my favorite sport, then fishing (If you can call it a sport) would be my second. As unpopular and boring some people think that it is, nothing makes me happier than getting out onto the water and wetting a line. I live in Mt Martha on the Mornington Peninsula, and only about 150 metres away from Port Phillip Bay, one of the most popular and renowned fishing spots in the state.

Dad has a small 5 foot tiny that we sometimes push off the sand and into the water at Mt Martha. We sometimes bounce around the corner and drift for squid. We can stay in close and try for some whiting or garfish. And other times we’ll head out deeper for snapper and flathead. Snapper is my favorite to catch. They fight hard and they taste fantastic. Dad’s dad has a 6 metre Cruise Craft Explorer that we use to go out to Western Port and off the coast too. Every year grandad and his three sons travel up to Bermagui and fish off the shelf for marlin and tuna.

And because of all this Dad, Grandad and Uncle Grant and myself have a yearly tradition in which we visit the Melbourne Boat Show at Jeff’s Shed.

This year we spent the majority of the time searching out for a new depth sounder. We looked at the Furuno and Lowrance Models and after hundreds of questions and comparisons we decided to go with the Lowrance HDS8 complete with Structure scan and Mapping features.  I also bought a couple of reels to go with my new rod. We checked out some pretty sick boats and I can’t wait until I can get out fishing soon.

The other thing our family shares together, is our love for the Sydney Swans. It had started since my Grandad was a little boy. He grew up in the suburbs of South Melbourne and attended many of their games beside Lakeside Oval. He moved south to Mentone later in life and taught his kids how to cheer for the red and the white too. As it so happens, when the swans moved up north, naturally the family had become passionate supporters of Sydney instead. I too have now carried on the tradition, yet I had never really known the true significance of the team’s history in South Melbourne. I had never seen a game a Lake Oval, nor had ever worn the famous Red V.

But I was about to take a ‘historic cultural journey’ back to where it had all began.

 

 

 

 

We headed off to the ‘Rising Sun’ hotel just a couple of hundred meters away from the old grandstand in South Melbourne. Naturally I had some South Melbourne Dim Sims before we settled in our own little corner of the pub, to watch the game.

The SCG looked cold. The swans had uncharacteristically lost 3 of their 4 games there this year. Richmond however, were coming off a  bye and were determined to lift there season and sneak inside the 8.

Richmond suffered a blow early in the game as David Astbury was stretchered off with a serious knee injury. And the Tigers were forced to use their substitute Tom Hislop almost immediately. Trent Dennis Lane had recently come back from an ankle injury he had during the pre-season. Straight away, TDL was the first goal-kicker, with what I like to call a ‘slip and slide backwards-last centimeter goal’. Seaby seemed to be doing well in the ruck, although me and my Supercoach were waiting for Mumford to jump back in! But anyway Riewoldt had soon kicked their first and I was desperately hoping that Grundy or someone could keep him contained. Malceski and Nahas traded goals before our new-found forward target, Roberts-Thompson snapped with about 15 seconds before quarter time.  The swans were in front by 11 but very poor kicking proved costly.

Meanwhile back in South I was tucking into a good old pub-style Parma. It was warm inside and there was many Swans supporters there. At first we had our own corner of the bar, which we shared only with a very old Collingwood supporter and the bartender, but then decided to wander upstairs to watch it on the big screen. The age demographic was much younger upstairs, and they seemed to be less ‘into’ the game. We soon thought to abandon ship and head back downstairs so we could actually listen to the commentary.

 

 

In the second quarter, the tigers needed to find a way back into the game. Dustin Martin provided that by kicking an impressive set shot from about 50. Sydney young gun Sam Reid had been taking strong marks all day but had previously failed to kick a goal. But 5 minutes into the second quarter he’d finally managed to kick a set goal, (even if was only from 15 metres out). This quarter was very frustrating for the swans. They missed so many opportunities on goal. Sydney definitely had most of the ball, but just couldn’t put that onto the scoreboard. Deledio kept the tigers in the game and kicked a snap goal against the flow. And Lewis Jetta ran into an open square to finally give the swans a hard fought lead. The swans went into the half-time break only 13 points up despite having 8 more scoring shots than Richmond. I was so annoyed that Sydney had wasted these chances, and I knew that it would come back to haunt them.

Everyone else in the pub had agreed that we were in for a exciting second half, and at this rate, it looked like it was going to be a close one. Inside the Rising Sun was hundreds of posters and memorabilia all about the Swans long history. The walls were covered with the great names like Pratt, Nash, Skilton, Bedford, Round, Healy, Roos, Kelly and Lockett. Their photos sat above us and looked down onto us, almost like gods. All of these players were highly respected and truly earned their place on the wall. I felt privileged to be in the same room as some of these great once were. The atmosphere was fantastic, Id never felt as home as I did then as a Swans supporter.

 

 

As the rain started to fall in the second half, Tyrone Vickery kicked a really important goal to keep the Tigers spirits up. Cotchin proved to be a handful and was doing well in the contested possessions. Riewoldt bobbed up again and took a great mark and goalled. Once again the red and white failed to get an accurate kick away. Although dominating possession the Swans ended up goalless in the third quarter but was still 6 points up.

Grant and Dad were constantly reminding me of this pub when they came here after the grand final.

I could only imagine how packed this pub would have been on grand final day 2005. Celebrations were running all night. It was the night that thousands of old bloods fans had been waiting for. And this pub was the epicenter of it all.

 

 

I was resistant to remember last year’s round 15 match at the MCG. Where Tigers finished strong by coming from 5 goals down in the final quarter due to Sydney’s inaccuracy at goal. I was afraid that history would repeat itself. Within the first minute of the final term Dustin Martin kicking a good goal. OH NO! The scores were level. But O’Keefe who was finding a lot of the ball, kicked a long goal that bounced through. Could you believe it! But that wasn’t all. Close to the boundary line and the behind post, a ball that was rolling out, McGlynn dived to tap it back it and then Jetta to tap it along again, only for Josh Kennedy to steam roll through and kick it off the deck at a tight angle. YES! The boys were up and about and so was the pub! Lewis Roberts-Thompson received a generous free kick and Sam Reid strolled in and booted it out of the ground. We looked home! A late surge from the tigers was not enough to get them over the line, but I feel that they missed their opportunities and the game could have easily been theirs.

The Swans held on in the end to record a struggled, hard fought 10 point victory. As the team was walking off the ground and the pub was singing the song, I noticed the ‘SMFC’ on the back of their jumpers. It made me think of how the club still remembers their past and acknowledges their old supports and all their history they left behind. I can’t help but think that the old blood’s legends helped Sydney get across the line today against an old rival. And although they might not have won the game convincingly and it was a great struggle, I believe that the old swans fought it out hard in the rain in true bloods spirit.

 

 

 

 

Cobba

About Jake "Cobba" Stevens

Jake “Cobba” Stevens is currently studying Sports Journalism at La Trobe Uni. One of the youngest ‘old bloods’ supporters in Melbourne, he can’t decide if the crowd was louder at the 2005 or 2012 Grand Final.

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