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Round 17 – GWS v Sydney: I could gloat – but I refuse!

 

 

The thought of fighting our way onto a train from Central, with over 100,000 football followers anticipated at the two venues in the Olympic Park precinct on Saturday night, left us no alternative other than to go early.

I wanted to see the reserves anyway, with Tippo, Will Haywood and Jordan Dawson back from injury, Aliir Aliir in good form, James Rose and Brandon Jack knocking on the door, Jordan Foote always a delight to watch, and of course Alex Johnson continuing his heroic comeback into footy.

Trains direct from Central to Olympic Park were only commencing at 4 pm, so off we went at 2pm for our two-train journey and the 3.45pm start. Hardly a Swan or Giant to be seen, but plenty of Arsenal supporters filled the carriages. Why they were going at this time of day was a mystery. Their game was starting in the evening, so I had to assume they had interesting things planned for the afternoon. Alighting at the final destination, they headed in one direction as we veered right to Spotless Stadium. Their direction: the pub.

The thought of over 100,000 (many presumably drunk by 10pm) all leaving at the same time several hours later, and scrambling onto the trains, was something we were to yet experience.

The reserves boys did their job, giving the Giants kids a good hiding but I was a little concerned to see Tippo and Haywood not return after half time. Maybe more injuries? Kurt’s ankle, dressed in ice, as he walked off the ground, wasn’t a good sign of things to come for our big man, so we cross our fingers that he can make a return as quickly as possible.

I was a little surprised that Callum Sinclair (who’d had a wonderful game in the twos the week before – kicking five goals) hadn’t been named to work alongside Sam Naismith in our senior team, especially with the experience and height of Mummy and Lobbe. But, what would I know? And, in the end, it didn’t matter.

Nothing mattered really, except that we needed to win!

We just had to win this one; perhaps it was the best opportunity we had of getting our own back on those Giants, especially given their recent injuries and with their star Jeremy Cameron being ruled out just before the game.

The crowd turned up. We’d been told it was a sell-out, and the Giants management congratulated their members and fans for a record-breaking attendance via the big screen. What! I reckon more than half the crowd were Swannies, so we all gave ourselves a clap and a pat on the back. When the Giants’ membership numbers increase sufficiently, then they can congratulate themselves.

Keep in mind, too, that there are plenty of Swans who took out Giants’ memberships when the team first started, and that’s apart from the traitors. They were being offered for peanuts, so Swans people grabbed the opportunity.

When we arrived at the ground there were two queues: Giants Members and General Admission (GA). Red and white outnumbered the orange and grey in the Members line, and there were several people in front of us in GA with Giants’ member cards. I asked one woman why she had one and her reply was it was cheaper overall for a Swans game at Spotless (prices have increased considerably since the home team became “flag favourite” this year), and she just loved watching good footy in Sydney, against any team playing there.

I could never become a member of another club – no matter how many dollars I saved!

Ten minutes or so into the first quarter, I’m wishing that Toby Greene had left it just one more week before returning from injury. He is a menace. A damn good little menace, mind you, but his two goals early on have me worried. Fortunately, though our boys start asserting themselves and applying the much-needed pressure, and by the end of the term we lead by a straight two goals.

The Buddy/Davis contest continues to enthral, and by the time Lance adds to his first quarter 50 metre bomb goal with another from the same distance but on the other side of the ground (his “wrong” side) early in the second, our man is starting to get on top. He’s been capably joined by Kizza and Macca, both back to their best after injuries, and it’s so important that our captain and inspiration, Joey, is back this week, doing what he does best.

With a game-high lead of 23 points not long before half time, two quick goals to Scully and Kelly, bring us back to that 11, 12, 13 point margin – so in keeping with what’s gone before and what lies ahead.

The Giants are obviously missing their leader, up front, and even though Patton’s marking is a bit of a nightmare at times for us, and the ball is often in their forward line, we’re still managing to repel their thrusts and get it back downfield, where we can control the game.

The third quarter sees three goals from each team. Gazza hits the post; Kizza goals, Patton takes another mark but misses; Smithy misjudges his kick-out from the backline and Patton goals; Hanners goals from a free, the result of a great tackle; Josh Kelly goals, Jonesy goals, and our tackling has been superb all quarter. 13 points on the siren and I’m nervous.

By this stage I’m feeling a little sick in the stomach (not literally) and I just wish the siren would sound, even though we’ve only started the last quarter. I fear they might do a “Sydney miracle against Essendon” on us in the dying moments, and I allow my fantasies to run riot.

Stevie J starts the rot, and goals. 7 points. Too bloody close! Buddy juggles a mark on the boundary line, 50 metres out, and miraculously goals! Gazza, back on the ground from a fear he may have done his hamstring, misses straight in front. Not his night! Paps marks, surrounded by much taller opponents, goals. 19 points up. Still too close. Mummy gets a free straight in front, goals. Buddy gets a free to the boos of the Giants, goals. Mummy another free, straight in front, goals. 13 points. Buddy then gathers the ball and handpasses to that little Paps who takes two bounces into an unmanned forward line, goals! 19 points.

The SYDNEEEY chants rings around the outer western suburbs of Sydney, but I’m still nervous. The stupid time clock says 32 minutes. “Why hasn’t the siren sounded?” I keep repeating to everyone around me. No-one hears me. Their Smith gets a free and goals, and my siren-sounding screams finally get rewarded at the 34 minute-mark.

We win by 13 points, and the red and white masses are happy.

All the media talk of us being the “form team” of the competition is of no interest to me. The stats don’t interest me, the speculation doesn’t interest me. All that I want is for us to continue playing good hard-fought contested footy, and all the hype can take care of itself. Maybe into September? Who knows!

We hang around for half an hour, chatting to Swans people, and wonder what the trains will be like, back to Central. You just have to be joking!

The entire population of Arsenal was there (including their Sydney followers), lining up with Wanderers, Swans and Giants fans. It was bedlam! Two hours later, at midnight we arrived at Central. I could have flown to Melbourne in that time!

Why, pray, would the relevant NSW/Sydney Authorities plan an Arsenal/Western Sydney Wanderers soccer match, attended by over 83,000 people, and one between the Giants and Swans, with nearly 22,000 people – 100 metres up the road – and most dependent on trains, to finish at the same time? Madness.

My highlights from the game:
Jarrad McVeigh
Kieren Jack
the backline guys
Josh Kennedy
Buddy (of course)
Zac Jones
And kicking a winning score without any input from Gary Rohan and Sam Reid.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY  2.4   5.6   8.8   12.11 (83)
SYDNEY                                    4.4   7.5  10.9  14.12 (96)

GOALS
Greater Western Sydney: Greene 2, Patton 2, Kelly 2, Johnson 2, Mumford 2, Scully, Smith
Sydney: Franklin 4, Papley 3, Lloyd, Kennedy, Robinson, Parker, K.Jack, Hannebery, Jones

BEST
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Ward, Shiel, Mumford, Greene, Whitfield
Sydney: Franklin, Jones, Parker, Kennedy, McVeigh, Hannebery

INJURIES
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Mzungu, de Boer (concussion)
Sydney: Reid (groin), Rohan (glute)

Umpires: Dalgleish, Harris, Pannell

Official crowd: 21,924 at Spotless Stadium

About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016. www.myswansloveaffair.com

Comments

  1. Tom Bally says:

    Nice write up Jan. You make me glad I chose this week to never darken Spotless Stadium’s doors again. NSW transport are the planning equivalent of a hurried kick out of defence; never anticipate a problem and just want it out of sight.

  2. Sent you one along similar lines!
    I also heard, which I didn’t mention, that NSW transport had cancelled many of the North Shore lines on Saturday!

    Can’t imagine how I’d have been feeling queuing up with all those drunk Arsenal people had we lost!!

    See you at the more civilised venue next week.
    cheer cheer

  3. Julie Cattlin says:

    Congratulations on the win, Jan.

    Love Julie xxx

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