25 years of the Red and White

In 1987 I sat in the SCG stands as a 9 year old and watched Steve Wright kick 8 goals as the Swans put 201 points on the Eagles. 25 years on I sat on the coach watching us take on the Pies trying not to make a noise and wake up my 6 month old son.. It’s been a great ride..

Spending 25 years devoted to the Red and White has given me a lifetime of memories, mostly good I must add. From Pink Helicopters to Barassi and onto the ‘no dickhead policy’ it has been a rollercoaster. Here is how it all unfolded in the Dodson household.

We packed up the the 1981 Holden Commedore, turned on the radar detector and put the CCR tape in the slot as we took off to the G to see the Swans play the Eagles in 87. Every year Wagga sent its under 12s team to play in the half time mini league game and my older brother had got a gig. It was a handy team and included future swan Brad Seymour and Pie Jason Wild. As an aspiring full forward my brother had penciled in 10 goals, unfortunately named in the back pocket he gathered only a few kicks and a self proclaimed AFL career went down the toilet.

As I sat in the stands watching my first game at the SCG and Steve kicking them from everywhere and the Wizard taking advantage of a ‘loose’ hands in the back rule to take a few screamers I was hooked.. The Swans were my team.

A few years later Gerard Healy came to my school to show off the Brownlow and I manged to get the prized signature. The Swans were flying and I had just started playing footy and kept Cameron Mooney goaless in a game (our careers took different paths after this).. Life was good.

The arse then fell out of the Swans in the early 90s and I’m ashamed to say I jumped ship.

Seduced by the Balmain Tigers in the Rugby League, I fell out of love with the AFL for a few years. In Wagga we would not get Friday night footy and the exposure of Rugby League on the box was too strong to ignore.

There were the Swans games on the Sunday, however, Simon Minton- Connell didn’t inspire this young teenager and I only had a passing interest in the Swans. I regret this now and it’s a dark little secret that only those close to me know. Maybe I should seek some counselling so I can reconcile and apologise for my sledging of Richard Osbourne, Jayson Daniels, Sanford Wheeler and so on..

Then along came a skinny kid with a mullet from my home town of Wagga named Paul Kelly and back to the fold I came. Kel was everything you want in a footballer and just your typical good bloke. Back in Wagga we didn’t get the Brownlow on the box, apparently the exploits of Esme Watson rated better. We got a news flash at 10.30pm that Kelly was in contention and then it was a mad scramble to try and find a radio to get coverage. A kid from Wagga had won the Brownlow, who would have thought it!

And then came 1996 and the Swans charge to the Flag. Three boys from Wagga (Mooney, Seymour and Kelly) and Plugga.. What more could I ask for.. It was pretty hard to focus on 2 unit trial HSC Maths exams as the Swans charged in September. The big dance even had 2 captains from Wagga (Kelly and Carey) and even though we shot out of the gate quicker than Carl Lewis we were not good enough on the day. It was a great ride though.

Then it was off to Uni in Canberra and I was introduced to Schooners, women with questionable morals and textbooks (in that order of importance). The Swannies would come down and play a few trial games at Manuka and for the most part were going pretty well. I was back playing as a lumbering Harry Madden style ruckman (with even less coordination) for the Mangoplah Cookadinia United Goannas u/19s and the club coach was former Bombers and Swans star Merv Neagle (RIP swerve). I even did a work expereince stint with the NSW Rams coached by Steve Wright and found that he was a great bloke, far too modest to embellish on the 8 goals he kicked against the Eagles despite my prompting.

After Uni I packed my bags and moved to sin city and a one bedroom dog’s box in Kings Cross. Let me tell you, its a long way from the Belconnen Mall in many respects. I would go the SCG to watch a competitive unit and then dodge the hookers, drug dealers and strip joints (bar one or two detours – sorry mum!) on the walk home. Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton and Ryan Fitzgerald arrived.. Fitzy shone and then dissapeared like Halley’s Comet, Goodes and Bolton are still part of the furniture.

Next on my tour of Australia was a move to Melbourne 10 years ago. I thought I knew Football culture before I moved to Melbourne, I was wrong. It was fascinating to see how the city just lives and eats it. I was in heaven. Sitting in my office one day in 2002 I had a $10 bet with my boss that one day Goodes would win the Brownlow, he bet $10 that Shane Bond would take 300 test wickets. A nice collect for me. At the start of ’03 I put $10 on Goodes at $201. Winner winner chicken dinner!!!!

In ’05 I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the GF with my brother. It was standing room and we arrived at 8am and didn’t move for the next 12 hours. As Leo Barry took the mark I turned and hugged some lady in her 70s wearing a VFL logo Swans Burley Seekem jumper and I’ll never forget it. I’ll also never forget the joy of going to have a pee shortly after… 12 hours is a long time!

’06 was tough but the Kirk lead comeback in the second half was inspirational and I was probably prouder of the club and players than I was after the 05 flag. Gutsy, disciplined, loyal.. they were the Swans of 05/06.

Time moved on and the Swans kept playing finals, you could bank on them.

This year my first born, Jack William Dodson entered the world and footy has taken on a new twist. Most Games have been watched with Jack spewing or shitting on me (much like the Swans have done to most teams) and I’ve shamelessly dressed him from head to toe in red and white. Its been my favourite season ever.

Who knows what Saturday will bring. Either way I know the Swans will crack in and do the jumper proud. Its all a supporter can ask for.

25 years with the Red and White has taken me from a 9 year old wearing stubbies to a 34 year old father. Much has changed, but the Swans have always been there and always will be.

Cheer cheer the Red and the White.

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Jake "Cobba" Stevens says

    What a journey Craig! Let’s hope that our boys continue to do us proud Saturday and in the years ahead!


  2. craig dodson says

    The effort will be there, thats for sure. I’m sure in a decade or two you will also be able to look back and reflect on the journey of being a Swans man with much pride.

  3. How good was Jetta’s run on Friday night?? Will go down in history with Plugger’s point and Leo’s mark – who cares about the maths of running 90m with 3 bounces!
    The crowd was on their feet as soon as they saw him get the ball, as we snuck a look to see the field was clear in front of him. It was like the crowd at the Melb Cup with the horses coming down the straight – I have never seen a crowd reaction quite like it.

  4. My dad turns 75 on Wednesday, and he’s been a Swannie for 65 of them.

    I love the Swans (so many great memories evoked by this terrific piece Craig) and Paul Kelly is one of my all time favourite players. And agree Mark. There are times in Aussie Rules when leniency from the umpires results in the spectacular.

    Best of luck to the red and the white.

    For me, the Cats are out front, and the Swans are 3 or so lengths in second but they well in front of the tightly bunched field which is another 6 or 7 lengths behind.

    Well maybe there’s 2 or 3 that have tailed right off at the rear.

  5. craig dodson says

    Agree Mark the Jetta moment will live long in the memory, Pete thanks for the kind words and I hope your old man gets to see flag number 2 on saturday

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