AFL Grand Final: I’m a lucky man

I don’t make a habit of hugging 70 year old female strangers but at 5.08pm on Saturday it made perfect sense as the emotion of the Swans victory took hold. Sport has the power to unite people and a shared love of the Sydney Swans had taken over M29 row E of the Olympic stand.

Six months ago (or round 2 to use footy terms) my first born son Jack was born and I shamelessly dressed him in head to toe red and white on Grand Final morning. My Brother was down from Wagga for the big game and the photo of the three Dodson boys dressed in red and white will adjourn the mantlepiece for eternity. A special moment of family, sport and expectation meeting. Jack of course was more interested in eating his feet than the result of the big game but in the years to come I am sure the photo will make him smile.

Sophie dropped me off at the tennis centre just after midday and I made the stroll to the G as it looked like the skies were about to open armageddon style. As I passed through the turnstyles some wanker in a suit behind me tried to jump the barriers and was met by a handy sheppard by a 65 year old attendant and pushed back through the gates. The attendant seemed to relish the contest and I wondered if he played the game back in the day. As for the ‘suit’ I hope he went home and had a good hard look at himself.

As I entered the ground I did a few laps to soak in the atmosphere but I was keen to get amongst my Swans fraternity and ‘share the love’ so I made my way to the seats down near the fence in the Swans pocket of supporters next to the Hawks cheer squad.

I was seated next to two 70 plus ladies from Ballarat who were old south supporters, lovely company and didn’t seem to mind the odd four letter word at an approprate time. They were old school and talked about Skilton, Lake Oval and Barry Round. I was pleased to be able to share the day with them.

Seated behind me were two Hawks supporters, one quiet chap and his better half who had a high pitched squeal that would have made Barry Gibb proud. She barracked hard all day and seemed to relish antagonising all around her, she was hard work all day. Not sure how she lobbed in the Swans members precinct.

I was hopeful but not confident, I knew the Swans would crack in and give 100 per cent but the dark knights of Franklin and Rioli loomed large. We started well and when Jetta put the foot down and left Rioli in the shade it was a delight to watch. The Hawks were on top but failing to convert although a late burst had them well on top at quarter time and the doubts started to set in. Despite my best intentions I tend to be a glass half empty guy.

The second quarter, were did that come from? It was bliss and poetry as we kicked six straight, the bloke in the row in front of me started calling Mitch Morton the ‘September specialist’ and we dared to dream. The chat amongst the throng was that it was still going to be a tough one and the Swans never do it easy.

As Temper Trap took the stage I headed for the latrine and made sure I positioned myself next to a sober gent, years of experience has taught me to avoid well refreshed chaps who tend to spray it like a Cameron Mooney set shot.

We kick the first two of the third and all the momentum is with us and then the Hawks hit the go button, Sewell is dominating and Franklin defies the law of physics to boot a classic from 65 out. I’m starting to tighten up like Bernard Langer on a three footer and the the old gals next to me are starting to hope Bob Skilton lines up on Mitchell at the next centre clearance. We hang in and kick a late one and its a point in it at three quarter time.

As I sit there head in hands I think that its probably a tad hypocritical to start praying considering I haven’t been in a church (bar a friends wedding or christening) for 30 years. I try to convince myself its only a game. I come to the conclusion that its ok to be passionate as long as I maintain perspective. Win, loose or draw the sun will come up tomorrow and Jacks nappy will still need changing, I feel better with this perspective. Shit I still want to win though! 25 years of supporting or belonging to something means you can’t help but give a shit.

The last quarter is a genuine rollercoaster, Hawks kick the first two and we are on the canvas and we need a hero, suddenly caped crusaders appear from everywhere, Goodes has less mobility than a turtle but finds a way to make an impact and puts the boys in front. I can’t watch and am relying on the crowd cheers to tell me the story.. stoppage after stoppage, its like trying to drive down punt road on a Monday morning. Then I sneak a peak and the bionic man has the ball, snap … GOAL!!!!!!!!

Just blow the siren.. Please! People are on their feet and we scan around for somebody with a radio.. apparently only 30 odd seconds left, I think we are home and then after a few contests the siren sounds.

I turn to my right and embrace my new found friends, odds are we will never cross paths again, it doesn’t matter, we have shared a special moment. A Swans moment. We don’t have to say anything, everyone in row e knows we are lucky to be Swans supporters.

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. totally can relate to the hugging of strangers I did this in 1996 and 1999, as north supporters, winning the flag is more relief than happiness, but the great feelings will always stay with you. well done swans , I salute you!

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    I’m glad you were there to experience the ultimate joy in football Craig. The memory of that great win will last forever. I don’t barrack for either team but I enjoyed the game so much. It was thrilling to watch such a great contest.

  3. Congrats Craig, your Swans were the best side on the day and may your memories of the day never fade. It was a good game of footy and the swans were using alastairs words from last year ‘ played harder and longer ‘

  4. craig dodson says

    Appreciate the kind words – a special day

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