AFL Qualifying Final – Sydney v Fremantle: Voltaren and Victory

‘I’ve done me back in’. Five seemingly innocuous words combine to create a sense of deja vu. I know this feeling. I’ve done it before. Not for a while though. The last time, I was perched a top of a ride-on Victa! This time, ironically in my quest for physical fitness, a simple sudden upwards movement whilst at the local gym, has brought me undone. For the next few days, this brings me to the one place I was trying to avoid in the first place, the couch. Equipped with voltaren and panadol, I ready myself for a qualifying final. No, I am not playing, but the sheer thought of these two hard-nosed units going head to head at this time of year, puts a fire in the belly and an aching in the lumbar. More voltaren?

September is my favourite month of the year. Spring has sprung, the temperature begins to increase and of course, the footy finals. Ah, the footy finals. A different type of beast. In modern times, us Bloods supporters have grown accustomed to watching our boys ply their trade at this time of year. We are a lucky bunch. Memories of past finals glory flood my mind as I temporarily indulge in the recent achievements of our club. Kirky, Leaping Leo, Baz, Micky O, Jude, ROK and LRT are names that immediately spring to mind. Warriors of past campaigns that no doubt inspire this current crop of Swans.

Sandy Roberts appears on my TV screen and I am momentarily confused. Am I watching the footy, am I watching a post-race presentation at Flemington or am I watching a Davis Cup tie from White City? It’s confirmed, today Sandy’s here for the footy. The last time we played The Enemy in a final, we were beaten up. The last time we played The Enemy at the Olympic Stadium was in the 2006 Preliminary Final. On that day, Pavlich kicked four, Big Bad Barry Hall kicked six and we won by thirty-five points. More of the same, please. As the television coverage switches to the inner sanctum of the change rooms, I catch a glimpse of some massage work and request some of the same from my physiotherapist wife. She compares her situation as a physio with a broken down husband to a plumber with a leaky toilet, and I am not convinced that she wants to work from home on the weekend. I cop this setback on the chin, and switch into game mode.

I take heed of my favourite song as the Bloods crash through the banner. I love our club’s anthem. ‘Cheer, cheer the red and the white’ was adapted from ‘The Notre Dame Victory March’ in 1961. A gentleman by the name of Father Jerome J. Wilson gave the Swans permission to use the tune, and a beautifully uplifting theme would accompany our team forever more. Many thanks, Father Wilson. For the first time this season, I have the butterflies occupying the depths of my stomach. This must be a final.

The match begins and immediately, a mighty battle looks likely. Contested will be the only way anyone will win the footy today. The Enemy are a fiercely competitive side, and you would expect nothing less from a Ross Lyon coached team. The Swannies burst out of the centre from the opening bounce, but Buddy misses with his first ping at the big sticks. It is the Purple Haze who goal first, as Gaz is deemed to have run too far with the footy, with the ensuing free kick converted by the underrated Mzungu. This appears to awaken the Bloods and the big no.23 nails a set shot, followed by a 50 metre bomb by Luke Parker. The atmosphere is certainly not SCG-esque, but the faithful like what they see early, and find their voice for the team. Poor old Gaz scrubs a kick out of defence, which is happily propelled back over his head as Pavlich marks and runs into an open goal square. Game On. When Macca handballs over the top to a running McGlynn, the signs are positive and we are looking solid in the lead. News comes through that Malceski has a hammy twinge and is in doubt for the reminder of the match. Through the TV screen, I offer Mal some of my magical Voltaren pills, but he doesn’t appear to be up for a chat. I reckon he’s in pretty good hands with Dr. Gibbsy anyhow.

Mal has been handed the red vest and Birdy ditches the green. Fingers crossed the hammy’s not too bad. Goodesy bursts through the fifty to start the second term, only to handball to an under pressure Buddy, who handballs to an under pressure Reidy, and the chance is lost. The Enemy take it form one end to the other and Pavlich makes it count. That hurts. So does my back. The lead changes again as the gut-busting McGlynn takes a diving mark in the pocket and cooly converts. Come On! This is exhilarating footy, as both teams crash and bash their way towards a home prelim. It’s a titanic struggle through the middle with Parker, Hannebery, Jack and Kennedy taking on Fyfe, Crowley, Mundy and Barlow. Not for the faint hearted. Appropriately, Kirky keeps flashing up on my screen, but he’s wearing the wrong colours….

The third term brings more of the same as the biggest margin of the match can’t seem to surpass the two-goal barrier. That is until the Swans go on a mini-burst, extending the lead from two goals to four as two of our esteemed leaders, Goodesy and Kizza both convert set shots under pressure. Jets, Harry and Gaz are providing plenty of speed and we have gained some form of ascendancy. Twenty-two points up at the final break and the nerves are jangling. I love these games, but hate them at the same time! The Enemy prove their class and come out swinging, opening up the final stanza with the first two goals. Twenty-two has become ten very quickly here. A period of consolidation is not required however, as Franklin does what he has done all year. Lights it up! Two stunning goals within three minutes, bring with them a sense of calmness and surety. The Enemy do fight back again to bridge the gap, but this one is ours. Hanners is rewarded for a cracker of a performance with the sealer, as The Swannies prevail by twenty-four points. A home prelim is confirmed and there’s delirium in the stands, and in my lounge room as the voltaren kicks in and I belt out one of my best renditions of our famous club song. Thanks again, Father Wilson, you’re a bloody legend.

Sydney 13.15 (93)

Fremantle 10.9 (69)

Best:

Sydney: Parker, Hannebery, Smith, Jack, Jetta, Franklin, McGlynn, Pyke, Lloyd

Fremantle: Pavlich, Fyfe, Mzungu, Sandilands, Silvagni, Barlow

Goals:

Sydney: McGlynn 3, Franklin 3, Hannebery, Tippett, Jack, Parker, Jetta, Goodes, Pyke

Fremantle: Pavlich 4, Mzungu 2, Fyfe, Walters, Sutcliffe, Mundy

Umpires:

Rosebury, Schmitt, Meredith

Crowd:

35,998 at ANZ Stadium

Malarkey Medal Votes:

3 – Luke Parker (Sydney)

2 – Dan Hannebery (Sydney)

1 – Lewis Jetta (Sydney)

 

 

 

 

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

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