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Round 21 – Melbourne v Sydney: All you doomsayers, how dare you doubt the mighty Bloods!

Melbourne v Sydney

3:20PM, Sunday August 12

MCG

 

 

No one gave us a chance! We’re done, they bleated. The older guys have had it.They’re too slow. The young ones are exhausted. Hannebery is past it. and They’ve lost their spirit. These were the headlines in the southern press these past weeks. And one Melbourne newspaper analyst had the gall to state that Melbourne would smash us by 80 points! What a fool!

Sure, we’ve had two shockers against the Suns and Bombers, but this is the Bloods we’re talking about here; one of the most successful footy teams of the past 20 years. We don’t give up. We fight and fight, and claw our way back when under pressure.

And, believe me, you doomsayers, we won’t be fading away, despite your wishes and beliefs.

We won this game against the more fancied Demons with two blokes on the bench for three quarters, and we won yet another clash at the MCG, adding to our top-eight scalps this year (7 of them), and against a team, despite their highly fancied statistics, yet to defeat any of the top eight.

Before heading off to the MCG on Sunday morning my mind was all football.

Knowing we had to win at least two of our remaining three matches – all against top clubs – I, like many others, wasn’t overly confident during the week, and wondered whether this trip to Melbourne might just be our last for the year. However, as the sun rose on Sunday morning, my mood changed considerably. My gut feeling was leaning towards a win.

Arriving in Melbourne on Thursday, I was determined to watch all Saturday games this week, as they were very likely to affect our position on the ladder. Although I record all nine games when we travel interstate every fortnight, it is impossible to avoid reading about or hearing results of other games when in footy-obsessed Melbourne, and I never like knowing results in advance of watching. My sister, whose house we stay in when down south, is a Swans fan, but not necessarily a footy fan. Hence, no Foxtel.

At 1PM on Saturday, I had her iPad set-up on the dining room table, showing Hawthorn and Geelong fighting it out, wanting Geelong to lose. Next to it was my laptop, streaming the Swans NEAFL game in Canberra. Satisfied with both results, I eagerly awaited the Port/West Coast game via the AFL app. 6PM approached and the sister emerged from her office, happy with her five hours of book-writing, eager for wine o’clock. Another sister arrived. With one eye on the game, the other tried valiantly to keep eye contact and discuss all things intelligent. However, desperately wanting Port to lose, McGovern’s mark and goal had me fair and square miles away in Adelaide, and rejoicing in the Eagles’ win.

7.30PM, and we’re in front of the tele for the Giants/Adelaide encounter. The sister looks across in astonishment and cries out “How can you possibly?” “How can you?” “You have a problem, you know?” (I would have thought she’d known about it decades ago!) “I’d go crazy, absolutely bonkers, if I had to watch so much footy”. Don’t really know what she was on about. All she saw from her comfy recliner was her older sister watching the tele, with the iPad on her knee, sound off, watching the Collingwood/Lions game at the same time. Why not? Perfectly normal behaviour if you ask me.

So, here I am now, at the G, two hours before the game, anxiously watching the North/Bulldogs match, desperately wanting a Dogs win. In every game I watch, the underlying emotion centres around the Swans and how other results will affect us. Not very practical, I must admit, but real nonetheless.

This game today, against Melbourne, will go a long way in determining our 2018 season.

The ball has spent half of the first term in our forward line, all to no avail. Twenty minutes into the game the first goal is scored. Melbourne’s inaccuracy is telling, and their two late goals gives them an 11 point lead at the break.

More importantly, this quarter will be remembered as the one when Alex Johnson fell, on the boundary line, clutching his leg and writhing in pain. The 51,000 crowd was silenced. We were stunned. We held our breath. We exclaimed “Oh No!” And we waited. There was nothing we could do, nothing his teammates could do, nothing anyone could do but applaud him as he was helped from the ground.

His loving teammates respond. Their second quarter is inspirational – maybe inspired by AJ. Halfway into the term our intensity increases, our tackling goes to another level, and our marking improves dramatically. We are able to control possession of the ball, apply pressure, and kick goals. All six of them in a matter of 15 minutes. I jump from my seat after every one of them, waving my GO BLOODS banner, but Hanners’ goal has me almost falling over, so high was my elevation. (I love Hanners and want him to remain a Blood forever.) With a lead of 14 points at the main break, accuracy at goal has been paramount. We’ve added 6.1 to Melbourne’s 1.6

The third quarter sees Buddy’s first goal, after three earlier misses. We manage a further five, including Tom McCartin’s snap along the ground 25 metres out – not that dissimilar to his heroics last week to win the game against Collingwood, but this time he was upright! We go to a 28 point advantage, before Melbourne kick two consecutive goals. Tommy Papley gets his second and with just minutes remaining, Joey Kennedy, now in everything, passes to Buddy for his second. Melbourne adds another, then Paps snaps his third. We’re 28 points in the lead, but is it enough?

Our last quarters have been a worry this year. Unlike the Swans of old, when we’d usually go on with it in the final term, we’ve looked slightly vulnerable these past few months.

With our two backmen injured on the bench (let’s hope Nick Smith will be fine next week), and rotations compromised, this quarter will certainly determine our finals’ hopes. I’m extremely nervous, especially when Melbourne kick the first goal. The ball is then repeatedly thrust into their forward line, where it remains. With 18 minutes of the term gone, Isaac Heeney is now a loose man in defence. What a player! What a mark! Mark of the year, surely! Even the Melbourne mob had to applaud that one. Melbourne kick another and my stomach is churning, all the while repeating to myself It’s only a game, it’s only a game. Jones, their captain, adds another and we’re only seven points ahead. I almost throw up. Jordan Dawson misses from 35 metres, ball is back in their forward half, our defence is under extreme pressure but that man Heeney saves us time and again, and when Tom Papley snaps over his shoulder, 15 metres out, for one he would never miss, the collective sigh from the Swans fans is one of desperation.

We’re eight points up, and the MCG screen shows 26.15 minutes. With no idea how much time is remaining, the ball is back in Heeney’s direction. He steadies, he rises, he marks. He has been instrumental. The siren sounds, the Swans players put their hands to their heads, the supporters rise as one, AJ limps onto the ground, all 43 players converge, shake his hand, hug him and console him.

As I rush down to Level 1, as close to the fence as I can, the players come towards us. They are not smiling. Some of them have tears in their eyes. Some of us have tears in our eyes. But we are cheering them, clapping them, singing their praises, and applauding one mighty Bloods’ effort. An effort that hopefully will go a long way in determining our immediate future.

I leave the ground with a smile on my face, but what I really want to do is scream. Scream out loud: “All you doomsayers: How dare you doubt the mighty Bloods!”

 

 

MELBOURNE               2.6   3.12     7 .14   10.18 (78)
SYDNEY                         1.1   7.2    13.6   13.9 (87)       

           

GOALS
Melbourne: vandenBerg 3, T.McDonald 2, Petracca, Hogan, Pedersen, Garlett, Jones
Sydney: Papley 3, Heeney 2, Franklin 2, Cunningham, Hayward, Hannebery, Dawson, Kennedy, McCartin

 

BEST
Melbourne: Brayshaw, Tyson, Harmes, Oliver, Salem
Sydney: Lloyd, Heeney, Newman, Aliir, Franklin, Kennedy, Hewett

 

Crowd: 51,424

 

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. Debra Calder says:

    Ha ha Jan, thought your comment about your sister was amusing. Did she not read your book?

  2. Julie Cattlin says:

    I was SO nervous for you this week, Jan, and just didn’t want to know the result. Being in Reykjavik is no excuse, though, with our wonderful technology!! So on the coach today going to look at geysers and the Gullfoss waterfall, I decided to look at the results. One great big smile on my face. They won!! I think everyone thought I was smiling at the amazing scenery. Little did they know it was a football match thousands of miles away!!
    Great article, Jan dear. And let’s hope next week in Copenhagen I’ll be just as happy for you.
    Julie. Xx

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    It was a mighty effort Jan. More controlled and intent than I’ve seen them in weeks. Must have been great to see it live.
    Sometimes things just crystallise. I don’t pay attention to the see saw of opinion on any team. it’s absurd. Life and fortune are too random (as Alex Johnson would well know). The old favourite ‘a week at a time’ is definitely that way to go. And so, the Giants … Cheer cheer.
    ps. Like Julie I have also streamed a Swans match in Iceland! We may be a fairly small club …

  4. “Rejoicing in the Eagles win”? Glad we could be of assistance Jan. Presumably a marriage of convenience – my enemy’s enemy – rather than anyone ongoing affection.
    Forgive me if I don’t mutually rejoice in your resurgence. Two painful losses will do that. Onward to September possibilities for both of us I suspect.
    Swords drawn.

  5. Thank you one and all.

    Debra, yes she’s read the book, and obviously known me for decades, but her comment was about footy per se, and not just about me and my Swans – I think!

    Julie, I’m amazed you’d even bother about football results when on your wonderful “architect tour” in Europe. Thank you for thinking of my welfare!! Enjoy!

    Mathilde, yes it was wonderful being there, and one week at a time is always my mantra. Will be a tough one next weekend against those Giants, but maybe we’re on a roll! Cheer cheer

    And, Peter, I’d even celebrate a Collingwood victory if it helped my team. Should be an interesting finals series. Good luck, unless you’re playing us (if we make it).

  6. Ross Treverton says:

    An amazing day at the football Jan; almost Shakespearean given the dramas which played out over the course of the game. The atmosphere was unlike any l’ve experienced (finals matches excepted) in 50 years of watching the Swans. What a mighty club!
    Proudly Sydney…

  7. Hi Ross
    That’s a big statement: “The atmosphere was unlike any l’ve experienced (finals matches excepted) in 50 years of watching the Swans. Wins against the Hawks at the G also come to mind. A Richmond game at the G a few years ago also rates. And there have certainly been a few at the SCG. But, this win was superb. Cheer cheer and thanks.

  8. Tony Courtin says:

    Jan,another uplifting, defy-the-experts performance by the mighty bloods! Life as a Sydney Swans supporter has certainly been a lot happier than all those years following the South Melbourne Swans. What a journey!! Go bloods.

  9. Sure is, Tony. And I hope it continues for years yet.
    Cheer cheer

  10. The sister here. The sister remains gobsmacked at the amount of footy you can not only watch Jan, but the number of games you watch at the same time. They all just blur for me! And the possible computations make the whole weekend unnecessarily stressful – to ride those waves of footy uncertainty! I’m impressed.
    Go bloods nevertheless!
    The sister.

  11. Debby Ross says:

    Sometimes Jan, I reckon my mind must be in your body somewhere! Every word, every thought, every emotion – identical!
    So I need say no more really – except that I will be saving all your writings for the day when the old memory just might confuse one game with another. Heaven forbid !
    Thanks lovely ?
    Onward to Spotless we forge.. cheer cheer..

  12. Hi sister: The thing is that the possible computations don’t make the whole weekend stressful – they make it enjoyable! A weekend WITHOUT footy would be stressful. Thanks, Jude.

    And, Deb, the thought of two of me is a bit freakish! Well, more like scary! But I know what you mean. Don’t worry I’m saving all the writings too, for the same reason!! Thanks for kind words. Cheer cheer

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