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Round 23 – Sydney v Carlton: Lance Franklin 10.2.62 – Carlton 8.9.57

 

I received a text from an O’Reilly mate three hours before the game: “Can’t make it today. Have the flu. Enjoy the game!” I sent a text back: “Get well soon. I’ll drag myself from my sick bed in an hour or so, and hopefully, will enjoy!”

Feeling like nothing more than a cosy bed, a Bex and a good lie-down, I resisted the temptation and headed for the SCG. How could I possibly miss a Swans game?

We arrive just in time for the first bounce, and with head pounding, throat throbbing and muscles aching, I am in for a day to remember.

As ‘Sweet Caroline’ blares around the stadium, the game begins. (I still have no idea why they play that at every home game! What is the significance? Stupid, I reckon.) Thirty minutes later my aches and pains have certainly not gone away! After the Swans’ 3.4 to 1.0 in that time, with the ball almost exclusively in our forward line, I had hoped for more. We just couldn’t get a decent score on the board, and although Tippo, Buddy and Reidy had kicked truly, opportunities were lost in that first quarter. The sight of Tippo hobbling off with trainers half way through the term was not what any of us wanted or needed.

The second term starts well, with two more goals from our Buddy, both on a tight angle near the boundary line, but after that, it is pretty much all Carlton. They kick four consecutive goals, and with only five points separating us, and with our second ruckman Callum Sinclair now also off injured, it’s all looking a little glum. What’s happened to the hoped-for thrashing and percentage boost? We look as if the past 16 games have finally caught up with us. We finally get a very late goal – Buddy again instrumental – kicking it long to Heens, who from the boundary hits the chest of Will Haywood in the goal square. 12 points in the lead at half time.

Sitting next to us are two supposed Swans fans, both middle aged men, who appear not to have seen or heard from each other for years. With beers lined up at the start of the game, and having consumed four each by the main break, they have done nothing but talk and laugh since they arrived and haven’t shut up for one wretched moment! And, none of it has been about the footy. They don’t appear to have seen any of it: no clapping, no exclaiming, no “Oh Buddy!” no nothing.

We decide to move from our regular seats to a group of empty ones a little further along the row. I take a few Bex, stretch out, lie down, and try to imagine the hard plastic seats are my comfy bed a few kilometers away in Surry Hills. Doesn’t really work, but at least I’m horizontal for 15 minutes and away from those loud, chattering, boring men. Why don’t they just meet at the pub?

Five minutes or so into the third quarter, the Swans seem to awaken from their slumber. Will gets his second goal and Buddy his fourth, in quite bizarre circumstances: in the goal square, he drops what he certainly should have taken, the ball falls onto the ground, hits his heel and rolls in. His smile on the big screen tells the story. The difference is only 15 points, despite the disparity in forward entries, and Carlton just won’t go away, kicking a couple of goals before Gazza, with his speed, motors his way to the goal line and connects with the ball ahead of two other players. Another goal. Buddy pops up again, and from 20 metres out runs into an open goal for his fifth. With only a few minutes remaining in the quarter, Jonesy kicks beautifully to our man Lance, for his sixth. Shortly afterwards, Nic Newman shows his class, winning the battle on the boundary line, grabs the ball, runs and bounces and Gazza marks 30 metres out in front. Buddy – not simply kicking the goals – tackles Thomas who gets pinged for deliberate out of bounds, kicks to Will who in turn kicks his third for the game. 36 point lead at the break.

Realising the importance of percentage gets the boys going in the final term. With Tippo now off but Sinclair back on, Joey starts the onslaught, goaling from close in. Buddy’s seventh is pretty special: hard up on the boundary line, 25 metres out, the ball just curls its way through the posts, and we’re all screaming for more. (Although, I’m not actually screaming, throat too sore, and head still pounding.) Heens then takes a courageous mark in the middle of a pack, and adds six more points. Gazza lays a great tackle 10 metres from goal, gets a free and goals. Parks kicks accurately to Bud for his eighth from 30 metres out, and his next one comes from a Jonesy long bomb into the 30 metre zone. Our man is instrumental in our next goal to Nic Newman – running, chasing, gathering ball, and kicking truly to our number 28.

The crowd then goes wild in celebration as Lance grabs the ball from nowhere, 25 metres out, and pops through his tenth. We’re all standing and clapping his incredible heroics! And we want more. Lance wants more. With the clock now on 29 minutes, he marks again close to the boundary, 20 metres out, and… misses! Ooooh! Ooooh! rings around the SCG. A minute or so later, it is replaced by a very raucous Cheer Cheer.

We’ve won by 81 points, improved our percentage by about 3 percent, and we’re in the four!

Our ladder position lasts for three hours. It was always expected that Port would demolish the Suns, but was it expected that the Gold Coast would be so, so uncompetitive?

Our eventual ladder position of 6th ensures a home final, and our Mighty Bloods this year have achieved what no other team has ever done. From zip:six, we’ve made the finals! We have shown what we’re made of, and I, for one, hope that every team above and below us in the eight is now quivering in their footy boots at having to face our history-making team of champs in the finals!

My aches and pains seem to have subsided and I manage to wave the flag with as much strength as I can summon. I even manage to walk home, with the thoughts of my cosy bed, a Bex and a good lie down firmly at the forefront of my Happy Jan/Go the Bloods mind.

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. John Butler says:

    A touch of blood sport about this one, Jan.

    Still, you owed us one from round 6.

    I think the season’s end has come at a good time for the Blues. We looked cooked.

    Looking forward to another thriller against Essendon?

    Cheers

  2. You’ve certainly improved, John, and fast!

    Oh, do I remember that Game 6 one! Couldn’t believe what was going on with the Swans. Vastly different team/performance now though.

    I hope it’s not a thriller against Essendon. Too many of those at the SCH for my liking! Too nervous to think more about it!

    Thanks

  3. Ross Treverton says:

    There are some football matches that stay ingrained in the memory. No doubt this one will if for no other reason than Buddy. I wish l had been there!

  4. You would have enjoyed it, Ross!

    Pretty nervous about Essendon!!

    Cheer cheer

  5. Tony Courtin says:

    Jan,that win certainly made-up for the round 6 debacle against Carlton.Next day was glued to the box watching the Eagles v Crows game,hoping for one of 3 scenarios: 1. Eagles win by a lot,finish 7th and play us at the SCG (Would rather play them than Essendon) 2. Eagles win by less than 4 goals,, so Melbourne can remain in the 8. 3. Eagles lose,so Melbourne remain in the 8. Unfortunately, the 4th scenario resulted. Nonetheless,Swans are playing better than when they last met Essendon. Go bloods.

  6. I wanted to be able to play Melbourne or West Coast too, especially at home. Amazing watching that Eagles/Adelaide game.

    Got our seats for next Saturday. All we can do is hope!!

    Go Bloods
    Cheer cheer

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