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Round 10 – Brisbane v Sydney: A gutsy win – Go Bloods!

Sydney airport is abuzz. It’s Friday, and we’re off to the footy.



My thoughts on the flight turn to Brisbane. For weeks now I’ve been wondering about this Lions team: how well they have played for most of the year and how, at some point, surely, they would clock up the all-important four points – hoping it wouldn’t be against us this weekend. Fortunately, those fears were allayed last week, when they finally made their mark and rose from the bottom of the ladder to annihilate Hawthorn.



How sweet it was for a Swans fan! I’m sure we all rejoiced seeing our nemesis team these past few years get belted by the kids from Brisbane Town and seeing Clarkson’s grumpy face on the big screen, wondering who he might turn to next to vent his frustrations!



I’ve also been wondering about Brissie, our home for 22 years before moving to Sydney to be closer to the Bloods in 1998. It’s always good to be back, back to that once sleepy hollow, where everything closed at 6pm, and the only way a Swans fan could watch her team play on a Saturday arvo, was to drive to Tweed Heads on the NSW border, where Channel 7 would sometimes broadcast the matches being played in Sydney in the 80s and early 90s.



How times have changed! The city is now almost unrecognisable. The Gabba, once a dog-tracked cricketing patch, is yet another beaming, sanitized modern stadium. Footy can now be seen without having to cross state lines. Fitzroy died and the Brisbane Bears became the Lions – the best in the land in their triple premiership years. And yes, the sun is still shining in this northern, now sophisticated metropolis.



But more importantly, my beloved team has gone from strength to strength since I called Brisbane home, and in the thirty-odd years since the VFL dumped South Melbourne in Sydney, Bloods supporters can now proudly rejoice in our sustained success. Success since 1996 that has culminated in over 60,000 members joining our great club. Who would have thought!



But now, sitting amongst the red and white family here at the Gabba, hoping we can continue our current form – especially away from home – surely the Swans boys will take these young Lions very seriously today. Surely? As happy as I was last week with their victory, there’s no way I want even a murmur of a roar this Saturday afternoon.



Queensland’s catch-phrase Beautiful one day, perfect the next” certainly applies today – assuming your idea of rain and a coolish 17 degrees is beautiful. The sun shone in the morning and although rain was not predicted, it is certainly drizzling now, affecting clean ball-handling and smooth transition. However, our three goals to Will, Ronks and Paps – our young up and coming champs – in the first term, belie the not so perfect conditions. Brisbane kicks two, and with our four-point lead at quarter time, this definitely isn’t going to be a walkover.



The second quarter, with the rain returning, sees our now-established champ Heens taking a great grab 40 metres out, goaling, then adding another six-pointer not long later. Our 2.3 to Brisbane’s mere two points, gives us a lead of 18 points, and although we’re ahead, I’m feeling just a tad nervous at half time.



The rain has finally stopped, and when our latest young debutant, Ryley Stoddart, kicks his first goal, the hair-ruffling from his team mates starts in all seriousness! A wonderful goal. With the biggest lead of the game, our boys then become a bit sloppy, and for a while there are errors aplenty, resulting in valuable points to the opposition. It’s still way too close, for my liking, but I find myself yelling a definitive “YES!” when Buddy adds a goal to our score, and minutes later, “That’s better” when one of my very favourites, Will Hayward, marks courageously in between two Lions, giving us a 23 point lead at three quarter time.



I’m really quite nervous going into the last term. Well, “quite” is an understatement! I am extremely nervous! Brisbane goals, I swear! Ronks goals, I scream another “YES!” I moan a few times about the number of frees the other mob is getting (or we’re giving away!), and then, another goal to them. “Not good enough”, I groan, as I nudge my husband’s arm, (all too roughly, he complains). “YES, Kizza, you beauty!” “Carn the Bloods, we just HAVE to win this” is the best I can do, and half way through the quarter, after Buddy has a little brain-fade, kicking a short nothing-kick straight to the opposition, this game is on the line.



For what seems like eternity, the ball spends its time in the Lions forward half, as they attack, attack, attack. There are amazing smothers and lunges from our boys, and the contest is ferocious. It is breathtaking and heart-stopping stuff, and only when we manage to get the ball out of there, I feel I can actually breathe. Buddy gets a free, and with the local booing echoing around the Gabba, he misses, with 27.40 on the clock. The Lions keep attacking, but, as they’ve done for most of the quarter, they miss the goals. The siren finally sounds, and I am mightily relieved. I am sure our Blood brothers are relieved as well.



This has been a tough match, in tough conditions. Those young Lions were impressive and never gave up and their supporters certainly have a lot to look forward to. But just not today! Today is about the Swans being more precise and more accurate, even though aspects of our game left a little to be desired. Today is also about our back line and their tireless and relentless pursuit for perfection. They certainly stood up today.



As “Cheer Cheer” blares out around the ground, I stand beside my singing Swans brothers and sisters and hold up my brand new “GO BLOODS” banner. A hand-held banner that thousands upon thousands of Swans fans will hopefully soon be raising proudly at all Swans games. (Imagine the scene: a sea of red and white banners illuminating each and every stadium wherever we play – what a sight that would be, and what an inspiration for our players!)



Jan’s fresh new banner – GO BLOODS


This wonderful supporter-led initiative: Go Bloods Banner Supporters Group has been implemented for passionate Swans supporters to unite to ensure a louder and more physical presence at our games, after our captain Joey Kennedy stated this year at the Guernsey Presentation and Hall of Fame dinner that he wanted our supporters to be more vocal.



And vocal we are as we sing out loud on this now mild, clear-skied Brisbane night, celebrating yet another away from home win.



What more can I say, but GO BLOODS!



Jan Courtin, a passionate lifelong Swans fan, moved to Sydney to be closer to her team in 1998. In the same year that her book was launched by the Swans, she was chosen “Female Fan of the Year” by the AFL Fans Association. Her website:  You can read more great Sydney Swans fan reviews at




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.


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    Great work, Jan!
    I’ve been thinking about a combo of Swans GF teams. Lockett, O’Loughlin, Hall, Davis, crikey, Franklin’s gonna have to be a wingman.

  2. Julie Cattlin says

    I only look at the AFL scores for you, Jan, and other family members passionate about South Melbourne – oops! I mean the Sydney Swans. When I was a kid, I did follow the red-and-white, so it’s nearly impossible for me to say ‘Sydney’ Swans. And Fitzroy no longer the lions!! Never! Having lived in Fitzroy for about 25 years from the early ’80s, it is ABSOLUTELY impossible to say the ‘Brisbane’ lions.
    As I never read the sporting section of The Age, it always feels a bit odd reading The Footy Almanac! But I always read it for your stories, Jan. I love them.


  3. Ross Treverton says

    Watched the game from a hospital bed in a morphine induced state following a hip replacement that same morning! Every time Brisbane scored a goal (not many) or there was a questionable free kick (a few), l just gave myself a squirt to relieve the frustration and tension. It’s actually not a bad way for a nervous Swans supporter to watch a game!
    It never ceases to amaze how we watch clubs in a ‘rebuilding phase’ give hope to their long suffering supporters with performances like Brisbane’s on Saturday. Yet the Swans for more than 20 years , have continued to play finals football whilst at the same time preparing for the future. Every year brings a new crop of exciting youngsters and l love the look of Ronke, McCartin and Stoddart already this season. Our recruiting and list management team deserve the highest credit for what they’ve been able to achieve for such a long time. The Melbourne footy media is certainly giving them some overdue kudos.
    Present indications are that l will still be here on Friday. The plan for a stress free view of the game is obvious! Cheer, cheer!

  4. Earl: As long as he’s there somewhere, although he has to win one with us first! Thanks.

    Julie: Even for footy people it’s hard saying Sydney Swans, let alone Brisbane Lions!

    Ross: Good to hear from you, albeit from a hospital bed. Fancy having to have a hip replacement. How awful for you, but hopefully beneficial in the long term. This game was the most frustrating of all this year’s games, especially that last quarter. I said to Marshall at one point “I’m getting no pleasure from this, I actually hate it!” Maybe because Brisbane really took it up to us and we could have actually lost! and the weather didn’t help either. Hopefully you can lie back and relax on Friday night, as we build percentage! However…..should never get ahead of ourselves! Get well soon, cheer cheer!

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Jan, another great piece. 60,000 Swans members, who’d have thought that possible in the early 1990’s?
    I haven’t been to the Gabba in a long time, hearing it’s become a bit dated and in need of an upgrade in comparson to the very modern Adelaide Oval, Perth Stadium and even the MCG and SCG? Very much reflected in the cricket fixtures they are now being given, interested in your thoughts?

  6. Hi Luke,

    Who would have thought anywhere like 60,000 back in the good old South days!

    I don’t actually find the Gabba outdated. Seems like yesterday that it was upgraded. Seating seems fine, surface good, but don’t ask me about food and drink: I never buy either at any sporting venues, so am ignorant in that sense.

    Big negative is no parking around the Gabba area, compared to the MCG. SCG hardly has any either and you have to pay $25, compared to MCG $10.

    As for why they’re debating the ground for cricket, not sure. Maybe it’s the numbers going to test matches there. We always go to the first test in Brissie, but must admit I didn’t take much notice of the crowd attendances last time. Let’s hope Brisbane can keep their tests.


  7. Keiran Croker says

    It was a tense last quarter Jan, maybe closer than it should have been, without taking any credit from the Lions effort. Though I thought our defence was outstanding in the last quarter and I took some pleasure from their collective efforts.
    It was my first ever visit to the Gabba, along with my older brothers and a nephew (now living in Brisbane) and despite the rain I enjoyed the experience. I note the Test this year is against Sri Lanka over the Australia Day weekend. I might head up.

    Ross, I trust you’ll be out on the beat again soon. I’ve been really impressed with the young players too. The recruiters do an amazing job. Good to see the Twos winning and a handful of players knocking on the door to get back in the Ones.

    Anyone, why is Millsy missing the rest of the season with a broken bone in his foot? Surely that’s no more than 10 or so weeks?

  8. Keiran, even if it was a 10-week lay off for Millsy, there are only 12 more home and away games, and I doubt he’d be ready to come straight back into the team and hopefully finals immediately. We’ve go so many backmen waiting to get into the seniors. Still not too sure why Nic Newman isn’t back – they obviously preferred Harry Marsh this week. I wonder if and when Allir will get back, especially now with Lewis Melican the choice when he’s healthy again.

    Will be off to the ground Friday afternoon to see the reserves. Love watching them play, and seeing our up and comings!.

    Cheer cheer

  9. Sharryne says

    Love your article Jan. It sent tingles down my spine. You truly are a captivating writer. Cheer cheer

  10. Thanks a lot Sharryne. Cheer cheer

  11. Keiran Croker says

    Jan, I had a very brief chat with Aliir at Brisbane Airport last Sunday night. I said I hoped to see him back soon, to which he said he hoped to be back soon.
    Re Millsy, sadly I am speaking from some experience as I broke my leg back in 2010. I had plaster for 6 weeks, then a couple of months physio on wasted leg muscles. So yes it would be difficult to get back this season. Given they operated, there may have been some displacement of bones, etc..

  12. Aliir played pretty well on Friday, Keiran. As did Colin O’Riordan and Darcy Cameron in the twos. Good game from them, after quarter time.
    Cheer cheer

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