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Round 4 – West Coast v Sydney: Ambivalent about the Swans

 

 

 

Being a Dog in a well-feathered but dog eat dog town, is a strange experience. People don’t talk about footy here. Any office talk is about Rugby League – the fortunes of the Rabbitohs etc. Ditto with soccer and Rugby Union –they hardly rate a mention.

 

As I’ve said before, to see a game of footy (Aussie Rules as it was known then, not AFL as the young kids call it now) when I came to Sydney 30 years ago, you needed to go along to see the Swans in action. So I did just that and saw them go from good times to bad times to good times again. For the last 15 years or so they have mainly been good times, constantly making the finals. As a member, I had the opportunity to go to after-match functions. They were interesting in the early days before their success. However, one evening after a big loss, a so-called supporter who was upset at the loss had a go at Paul Kelly. I was shocked and felt sorry for Kelly as he put his heart and soul into every game. Kelly walked off the stage. I walked out and haven’t been to a Swans function since. I hate negative supporters, no matter what team they pledge allegiance to. I had heard enough whingeing from Dog’s supporters when I got down to the occasional game in Melbourne. I didn’t want to hear it here as well.

 

I’ve therefore taken an ambivalent interest in the Swans – happy enough to go along and hopefully see a good close game and enjoy their wins but never fully engaged with the song at the end. With ‘away’ games I’ve been even more ambivalent, tuning in to the last half or last quarter, at least in recent years. (I admit I was much more interested ten years ago when they were strong and my Dogs weren’t and rarely scored a guernsey on TV.)

 

The Swans fans have had it easy over the last decade. On most weekends they would rock up to the SCG and expect a win and most times get it. However, this year is different. The expectation isn’t there anymore. Now their games are feeling like a Dog’s game of the past (will they or won’t they?). Down 0-3, I can feel the southerly change coming. The masters of former years aren’t firing on all cylinders – Hannebery, Parker, Jack and McVeigh, Heeney, Tippett, Rampe and Rohan are injured although Rohan’s ship started sailing away in last year’s Grand Final.

 

I therefore feel more obliged to watch them tonight. Can they avoid a 0-4 start? I have had a solid week leading into Easter and by the time I’m relaxed and organised it is about 9.30pm. I’m tired, but picked up some pasties from Newtown and being Easter I’ve decided to forego a beer and knock them back with a cup of tea.

 

The game begins and despite a few stumbles the Swans seem switched on. The first quarter is tight with goals to Cunningham and Foote for the Swans and Gaff and Kennedy for the Eagles. However, in the second quarter the Eagles start to pull away Young Will Hayward is impressive again flying the flag for the Swans. The third quarter sees more dominance from the experienced Eagles – Shuey, Le Cras and McGovern. I can see that the great rivalry that has existed between these two great clubs is now fading. The gap between touted finalists is widening. The effect of the hard week and the pastises is now taking its toll as well, I struggle to stay wake as the Swans struggle to stay in the game. In the end, we got to the end – me watching and the Swans playing.

 

Next week their biggest test in years looms. The media have tried to hype up the cross-town rivalry thing, but in reality it doesn’t east. No-one up here cares much about GWS despite acknowledging they are a good hand-picked AFL interloper. With their star on the ascent and the Swans’ spiralling out of control, the once hoped for sell-out won’t happen in my opinion. It is a beautiful sunny autumn now in Sydney after a miserable month of rain. Will Sydney-siders come out to see the charging of the guard? I will be there. Rick will be there and even Zuka may fly in. But will the lure of one last day at the beach be too much?

 

West Coast Eagles                  2.2       5.9       9.10     13.13.91

Sydney Swans                         2.2       4.3       7.4       10.5. 65

Goals:

West Coast Eagles:  Cripps 3, Gaff 2, Kennedy 2, Le Cras 2, Hill, Shuey, Wellingham

Sydney Swans: Hayward 2, Franklin 2, Cunningham, Foote, Papley. Florent, Lloyd, Reid

Best: West Coast Eagles: Shuey, Yeo, Gaff, Hurn, Priddis, Kennedy

Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Lloyd, Parker, Grundy, Marsh, Hannebery

Our votes: Shuey, Kennedy, Yeo

Umpires: Foot, Dalgleish, Jeffery

Official Attendance 38,065

About Les Currie

I'm a passionate lifelong Bulldog supporter born and raised in Melbourne, After stints in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne I have now been in Sydney for the last 30 years. I have been involved in the arts all my life predominantly as a Theatre Producer and Manager with early stints in film and television. I am now getting back into writing and enjoying developing the character of Zuka the Flying Wonder Dog and working on a novel set in post '54 Footscray. When not working, writing, watching plays or movies or watching footy I'm at the beach or in the bush avoiding traffic.

Comments

  1. Keiran Croker says:

    Hi Les,
    I grant that you will know the Sydney market better than I do. I come up for a few games a year. However I reckon that I have had a handle on what the Club is doing recruiting wise. I hardly think we are “spiralling out of control”. I am extremely excited about the young brigade coming in. We have been very competitive and in every game with a team half full of rookies and kids. Time will tell how we will go once our better players return. I am not concerned should we lose to GWS and should we not make the finals this year. We have an exciting future. I look forward to comparing observations as the year unfolds.
    Cheer, Cheer!

  2. Hi Keiran. Yes, as a Doggie in this town I like to stir the pot a bit for a bit of fun but genuinely have a soft spot or the Swans having seen them go through tough times as well as the good – and I keep going to their games. The ‘spiralling out of control’ really refereed to this season as like North and the Hawks it is going to be a tough road back, but not impossible. I agree about the kids though – I’m very impressed. Maybe they will have to go backward a bit to go forward but you know the thinking – consisted at the top but not quite getting there hasn’t worked for some clubs e.g. North, Geelong – so wholesale changes have been made. Sydney likes winners so to say near the topo for so long has seen clever recruiting. I feel support will drop off a bit if they really have to go though a metamorphous. But times have changed. Maybe this time the fans have been with them longer now to, like you, not worry so much. I hope so.

  3. Steve Brown says:

    G’day Les,
    As an old South,Bob Skilton tragic l read your article with interest .
    In particular l found your story about the Paul Kelly incident from years ago very sad and disturbing and can understand your wariness about fair weather support in Sydney.
    I hope our fans and members are above that now and realise how hard it is to be continually successful without sometimes having a poor trot.
    I live on the Gold Coast but l really wish l was there with them now to show them the support they deserve.

  4. Les Currie says:

    Hi Steve,

    Yes, I don’t like bagging at all. i admit I was probably a bit guilty of it in my 20’s or 30’s with a few beers under my belt toward a few certain players when the Doggies weren’t travelling well, but fortunately i grew out of it. I also hate sledging which came up for some discussion after Saturday’s match. Even though I’m a Dog’s supporter, I’ve really enjoyed watchigng the Swans over the years particularly recently with Lockett, Kelly, O’Loughlin, Kirk etc. but I also have a great fond spot for Bobby Skilton. I saw him play many times as a boy against the Dogs and couldn’t help but admire him. I think being a little fella myself endeared him to me as he was so brilliant and fearless amongst those bigger blokes. Another loss at the weekend but they’ll bounce back and after witnessing the crowd I think they will stick with them this time.

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