AFL Round 13 – Sydney v Port Adelaide: Growing old with the Swans and the Borough (reprise)



We are a Swans  family because of my father.  Dad, Bernie was born in 1922 and grew up in Ingles Street, Port  Melbourne just a few decent drop kicks from the North Port Oval where The Borough still play.  In his youth prior to World War II Dad tells us he watched a lot of footy at Port, though he did venture over to the Lakeside Oval at South as well.  In the 1930s he would have seen the foreign legion, the Blood Stained Angels, including the great Nash and Pratt.  Even though we grew up in the outer eastern suburbs Dad imbued in us a love of both Port and South Melbourne.

Due to his failing memory and some other complications we have had to move Dad in to a nursing home in recent times.  As is the case with old age dementia, his short and medium term memory is shot. These days in his head Port is home, despite having lived in Ringwood East for over 60 years.

Between me and my brother we aim to pop in to the nursing home on Saturdays after lunch and make sure that the ABC tv is on with the VFL match of the day. This week its Port v Footscray, so I pick Mum up from home and head over.  These two teams would not have played against each other since before 1925 in the old VFA days back when Dad was a toddler.

Dad recognises the ground, the stands and the red and blue strips of The Borough on tv and is happy to sit up and watch the game.  Port is doing well again this year under legendary coach Gary Ayres, with only one loss so far, though today the Doggies have started well in muddy conditions. Former Tigers bad boy, Dan Connors is playing for Port today.  By half time he has 4 goals and looks a class above the competition.  I wonder whether any AFL team would take a risk on drafting him again?

By half time Port is back in the game.  However Mum & I leave Dad to it, and decide to head off to the Ringwood Club to watch the top of the ladder AFL game between our Swans and Port Adelaide.  On the drive over it’s already into the first quarter.  The radio commentary tells us that the Swans have started well however are wasteful in front of goal.  At the first break they are 12 points up with only 2 goals from 10 scoring shots.

At the Club they have the Tigers v Freo as the main game with audio, so we have to watch our game in the corner without sound.   This can be a challenge.  However I soon discover that the lady sharing the area with us is providing blow by blow commentary with a constant stream of questions for me.  She is waiting for her friend to arrive who is also a Swans fan.  When her mate arrives fortunately they engage with Mum, who pulls out her gem that she once worked with Mick Malthouse’s mum at Coles in Ballarat. This allows me to better focus on the game at hand. It’s a tight fast relentless game. Port has surged back into it with a couple of goals from the pacey White, however this is matched by three vintage snaps from Goodesy, two off the non-preferred left.  We are still wasteful and Buddy Franklin is having one of those games with just 4 points.   We go in 7 points up.

Port has lifted in the third and in particular Ebert and Gray are getting heaps of the ball.  However the Swans maintain a lead of around 2 to 3 goals.  It’s a great game. Our chatty friend keeps saying the Swans are safe, though I know better than to accept that.  After a wayward day Buddy finally gets on the board late in the quarter with a gaol from the square followed by a neat set shot after a diving mark. A late goal to Port keeps them within 15 points at the last change.



As expected Port snag some early goals and are within a few points.  Enter one Lance “Buddy” Franklin. First a great tackle earns him a set shot from fifty which he drives home. Then we break from defence and Buddy marks about seventy out, on the left flank, he winds on to his left and lets go a bomb that carries to the line and rolls over. Minutes later he leads out to the right fifty metre line, fumbles the mark but gathers and outrageously accelerates through a narrow gap and drills it.  Our new friend says we are safe, though the Power keeps pushing.  A series of attacks gets them back to within 4 points with 30 seconds to play.  They push again however Sam Reid’s sure fist kills the ball and the game is ours.

Buddy has kicked our last 5 goals.  I don’t need any commentary to tell me that it is sheer brilliance. Port has been great though and has lost no admirers.

It’s been a good day. Some time with Dad watching our Port play, then with Mum seeing our Bloods get up again. I’m thinking it’s about time we took Dad for a drive back to see the old Borough.  It’s been a long haul following the Swans over the years, though we are glad we stayed the course.  Thanks Dad.


Votes:  3 Ebert 2 Franklin 1 Gray

SYDNEY SWANS     2.8   6.12  11.13   14.14  (98)

PORT ADELAIDE    1.2   6.5     9.10    13.16  (94)



Sydney Swans: Franklin 5, Goodes 3, McVeigh 2, Jack, Jetta, Kennedy, Hannebery

Port Adelaide: Schulz 4, Monfries 3, White 2, Wingard 2, Ebert, Westhoff

Sydney Swans: Franklin, K.Jack, McVeigh, Malceski, Shaw, Grundy

Port Adelaide: Ebert, Broadbent, White, Schulz, Gray, Cornes



Sydney Swans: Pyke (tactical) replaced in selected side by Gary Rohan, Hannebery (ankle)

Port Adelaide: Hartlett (ankle)



Sydney Swans: Gary Rohan replaced Brandon Jack in the fourth quarter

Port Adelaide: Aaron Young replaced Hamish Hartlett in the third quarter


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Meredith, Ryan, Jeffery


Official crowd: 41,317 at the SCG


About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    We’ll done Kieran dementia is a huge challenge which has more than it share of challenges ! Top family report did you ask the club to put on the sound as surely there was more interest in the top of the table clash ?

  2. Love the combination of family, life and footy. Its what makes the Almanac unique.
    Went through a similar experience with my father in law. Those precious memories of his smile as we all cheered the footy wrapped in our blue and gold scarves.
    Thanks Kieran.

  3. Geoff Nixon says

    Hey Keiran,
    I’ve read a few of your articles over the years and this would be one of your best. I loved the mixture of Port, Swans & family. We’ve all got a mother who has a gem up her sleeve for just the right moment.

  4. Keiran Croker says

    RIP Dad.

    Sorry that you could not hang in for another tilt at the flag for either The Borough or The Bloods, and also that we did not make it out to Port one last time.

    Love, Keiran.

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