AFL Grand Final – Sydney v Hawthorn: It was not supposed to be like this

Insipid is a strong word. Guts, courage and discipline are words I like to use when describing my Swannies. Unfortunately insipid was the word that sums up yesterday. It was not supposed to be like this.

The week had started with so much promise. My second son Harry Paul Dodson was born. What a thrill. My family complete. My first son Jack was born in 2012. We were going to win the flag and the Swans administration were going to put us into a breeding program to secure future flags.

It has been a crazy week in Melbourne. A world of violence I don’t understand. I felt uneasy on the train yesterday. No bins at the stations and messages on the PA not to leave any items unattended. I wonder what world Harry and Jack will grow up into?

At Parliament station I run into a bloke in Swans gear. He says its in the bag and predicts a 6 goal victory. I am not used to such optimism in big games. We stroll through the Gardens on a magnificent Melbourne day. There is nothing quite like the march to the G. Kids kicking the football, generations walking together. Optimism, nerves, excitement. I love Melbourne.

I am in standing room today. I survey the M8 deck. Packed tighter than a can or sardines. I wrestle the ‘best’ spot I can. I use the word ‘best’ loosely. To my right is a concrete wall and I can see SFA  past the centre square on the left side. I hope the wingers don’t  see much of the pill today. Its a Swans members bay and the mood is confident. I start up a conversation with a Dockers fan who shelled out on a corporate seat. He took a punt midway through the year that Pav would be playing today. He is hoping for a good game at least.

Tom Jones swaggers onto stage and gets the crowd going. Little did I know this would be the highlight of my day.

The anthem. The roar. The Goosebumps. Game On.

Swans start well and snag two of the first three. Jack somehow decides not to kick for goal form 60cm out and an opportunity is missed. We are in the Game. The Hawks then start to take control and if not for some inaccurate kicking would be further ahead at the first break.

The M8 standing room crew is still confident. A cheerful teenager in front of my reminds us that we were 20 points down at quarter time in 2012. No dramas.

The second Quarter. Houston we have a problem. It seems the Hawks have 20 players on the field. Loose men are popping up everywhere and they run and spread with such ease. They don’t forget 2012. They are driven. The trusted Swans back line is starting to crack. This is not looking good. The dam has burst and the contest is just about shot as the Hawks skip out to a 7 goal lead. Hodge and Mitchell are a class above. Kennedy is trying hard but has few helpers. Buddy is starved of supply.

M8 is not a happy place at half time. The rotund chap next to me describes it as a sea of depression. No one talks. Time passes slowly. My feet ache and I want to go home to see the family. I hope for a miracle. The Swans don’t give up. Too much pride. I convince myself we will play hard and have a crack.

The third quarter and much of the same. The Hawks are relentless. The Swans slow and uncertain. Pressure kills. The dream is over. I start to focus on number 37. Will this be the last time we see the champ? So many memories. One little girl in M8 sits with her head in her arms close to tears. Some anger from others. The guy behind screams ‘man up you bastards’.

Much of the same in the last quarter and I escape before the final siren. I should have stayed to support the boys and give the Hawks their due credit but I can’t face it.

Outside there is a Swans lady on the steps having a dart. Poor lass has come all the way from Perth for this and spent 3 grand. I thought I was having a poor day.

I meet up with my brother Brett and we stroll with other early departing Swans over the footbridge to Flinders Street. Silence. We jump in a cab and the driver changes the radio station for us from the footy. He has just won himself a $5 tip.

We get home and Jack races out the door in his Swannies jumper to give Dad a big hug. I come in and Harry is in Sophie’s arms. Life is good again.

Congratulations to the Hawks. A class above today. Not sure what happened to the Swans. We will be back. We are a proud club with a solid foundation. The pain hurts today but it will pass. 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. Brave report Craig. You are spot on about Melbourne being the greatest city in the world for a sporting tragic. At finals time, and Boxing Day, and Australian Open time – I envy the brilliant access that Melbourne knackers have to this great theatre.
    For the last 3 months I have been convinced that this was the great Adam Goodes’ last season. He has just lost the half a yard of leg speed and is now consigned to ‘good ordinary’ status. He gave a proud display yesterday, and was one of the few not to be overwhelmed by the pressure.
    Sydney remind me of the gambler who has ‘bet the house’ on 2 recruits and a flag. I have the feeling that the club will start to fall apart under the pressure of salary cap, the jealousies that overpaid “stars” creates, and self doubt. The suits that have transformed the blood stained angels into the Bondi Billionaires have a lot to answer for.

  2. craig dodson says

    Thanks peter. I hope adam hangs them up, nothing more to achieve. I felt uneasy when we gambled on kurt and buddy but I can’t fault the decisions the club has made over the last decade. Ill cross my fingers and hope they have made the right call. Time will tell. Big test for the players to move forward with strong character needed.

  3. Keiran Croker says

    Great report Craig. It was my birthday yesterday. Not much of a present from my Swans. Life goes on and there will always be next year. That is something I have learnt over the years.
    Pete, the Swans administration has been stable for years, so the same guys who delivered flags in 2005 & 2012 are the same ones making decisions now.
    Can’t blame Buddy & Tippo for yesterday, they did their best with limited chances. I am confident we will be strong in coming years, though time will tell.
    We can have the discussion as it unfolds. All the best!

  4. Yvette Wroby says

    Bad luck Swannies. Great report and as a Sainter, I know the feeling. I thought Buddy was great yesterday, and was all you could hope for, competative, goaling, coming up the field. The Hawks were so intense and I think they (Swnas) just weren’t expecting the pressure and relentless tackling and power of the Hawks. Hawthorn were brilliant and your Swans, and the rest of us, need to watch what the Hawks produce and aim to be better and that’s a hard ask for all the 17 other teams.

    Losing sucks. You just have to enjoy 2012 for a bit longer.


  5. craig dodson says

    Keiran I agree kurt and buddy couldn’t really do much from their vantage point. Cheers yvette, the memories of 2012 will last a lifetime. Good luck to your saints for 2015

  6. Craig I know only too well how hard the process is to write and Almanac report in the aftermath of a GF loss. It was a strange day yesterday for me, several strong conflicting emotions but I felt quite confident the Swans could do it. The game they served up was very unlike the Sydney we all know and fear. Cheers and enjoi the summer.

  7. craig dodson says

    Cheers sean, really enjoyed your report last year. I woke at 5am and really felt like writing for some reason. Maybe its my form of closure from the day.

  8. Craig

    Congrats to yuo and Mum on the arrival of young Harry.

    As for the footy?


  9. craig dodson says

    cheers John, all doing well in the Dodson household.

    I think we need Stephen Hawking to come in and work out what the hell happened on Saturday.

  10. Thanks for the article Craig, I was in M8 too and went through a similar range of emotions. It was a special kind of torture to endure, and not something we’ve had to experience much recently. I had felt uncomfortable with our favouritism and had thought all the hype surrounding our chances was somehow un-swanslike. I feel that losing will serve us well, because it takes time and the occasional setback to develp the psychology and confidence that comes with front-running. Hawthorn clearly has it, we need it. No comment on a couple of the Hawks fans who were on the deck? We spoke about it after the game and agreed that the amicable mixing of fans is a fairly unique part of our game, and there were some really nice brown/golds standing in front of us who were showing respect and having a chat. But we were pretty unimpressed by some of the comments like ‘get the S**t off our lawn’, ‘get the lube ready’, calling Goodes ‘unaustralian’ to repeat a few (‘there’s no COLA in this premiership cup’- no problems there, good luck to fans who want to get stuck in about that issue, even if it makes them sound like Eddie McGuire’s parrot). Nothing racial I should clarify. I can say from experience, that kind of stuff isn’t common at the SCG where people generally focus on cheering the Swans. We do boo umpires/ opposition players and give a little so we’re definitely not paragons of virtue! But seriously, what makes Goodes ‘unaustralian of the year’? I suppose it’s because he has transcended the game and some people- a vocal minority- are unsettled by it; one of them yelled out ‘you don’t write a letter like that to the Australian people’, so I can only assume the comments were related to his off-field work, not recent ‘staging’ controversies. Also, our success and perceived injustices have created resentment and made us a target, which will take some getting used to. Maybe a case of a few drunken bogans enjoying themselves but you wouldn’t catch me yelling out some of that stuff. Anyway, on the whole, a great occasion and a great weekend in a great city. I’ve already forgotten the score.

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