AFL Round 15 – Sydney v GWS: Headaches, Hot Toddies and Heroes past and present

Not since the halcyon days of The Lake Oval in 1935 have the South Melbourne/Sydney/Bloods/Swans won ten matches straight. Tonight at the sparkling SCG, the modern-day Sydney Swans will attempt to match this magnificent feat. The opponent tonight truly are ‘The Enemy’. A brash, cavalier and sometimes imperious football club who have swaggered their way into old Sydney town with a boldness and nerve not to my liking. For the first time since their inception, I feel myself building with tension usually reserved for more formidable rivals. I can also feel an horrific dose of man flu building, which is akin to armageddon for the male of the species. A cold sweat and thumping headache is soothed by the magical potion of a ‘Hot Toddy’. First sampled by yours truly in a cosy Dublin public house in the depths of an Irish winter, the healing powers of whisky, lemon, honey and cinnamon never cease to amaze!

The VFL season of 1935 fell smack bang in the middle of South Melbourne Football Club’s golden era. A premiership was attained two years earlier, and the Bloods would fight out four Grand Finals in a row between 1933 and 1936. Ten consecutive victories in a season is an outstanding achievement. The fact that it was achieved in such a tumultuous season made it even more impressive. South’s captain-coach was the great Jack Bisset. In the pre-season, Bisset and brilliant defender Hugh McLaughlin engaged in fisty cuffs and McLaughlin left for Footscray. Peter Reville confronted team mates after the 1934 Grand Final loss with accusations of match fixing and was subsequently delisted. Finally, champion fullback Ron Hillis spat the dummy and left for Fitzroy after missing selection in the previous year’s decider, before returning to the Bloods on the eve of the new season. Interestingly, South lost their first match in 1935, just as the Swans lost their first of 2014….to ‘The Enemy’ who await tonight.

In 1935, the Bloods were spearheaded by superstar full-forward Bob Pratt. Tonight, the new superstar of the Swans, Buddy Franklin kicks the first goal of the match. Big Tippo knocks out an opponent and boots the second and this combination must be considered as lethal as Pratt and Laurie Nash were throughout the golden era. The Enemy are a physical young bunch and the addition of the herculian Mummy, an all-time favourite of Swans supporters, has made them even more so. Kizza absoultely runs amok with fourteen possessions and a goal in the first quarter and the Swans take a three-goal lead into the second. I suspect football has changed a little in the seventy-nine years since we last won ten matches straight. Any suggestion of players having tattoos, wearing fluorescent orange boots and taking part in one hundred and twenty interchanges a match would have been enough for one to end up in the loony bin during the era of the great depression. However, I imagine the splendidly stately moustaches which appear to have been expertly manicured and sported by Tim Mohr and Dane Rampe would have been perfectly acceptable.

The second stanza begins and Bugg is living up to his surname, annoying the life out of McVeigh. The Swans are dominating through their tackle pressure and superior finishing as the lead extends to thirty-two thanks to a typical Joey Kennedy show of brute strength which  results in another major. Mistakes and turnovers begin to mount as The Enemy attempt to hang in the contest and the Swannies struggle to maintain composure in the face of some good old fashioned niggle which is too often non-existent in footy these days. The Swans propensity to defend is admirable however, and when Mal produces a goal-saving spoil that Bisset would have been proud of, they once again display the disciplined nature of their football these days. Buddy continues to show the kind of form that has catapulted him into Brownlow discussions, the young kids, Harry from Wagga, Lloydy from Ballarat and Jonesy from Dandy, are developing beautifully and amazingly, this man flu is showing signs of dissipaiting. The third quarter continues to be a scrap and memories of that Round One loss are distant.

The final term produces some glimpses of decent footy, but as the margin hovers between forty and fifty points until the final siren, the sting has gone from this contest. A match that never really reached any dizzying heights, results in a forty-six point victory to the Sydney Swans and the first time since ’35 that we’ve notched up ten on the trot. The Bloods of ’35 had their streak snapped at twelve, so the chase is on. Ironically, it was the Blues who broke that run of victories and in two weeks, the Swans will face off with the Blues back at the Sydney Cricket Ground. With any luck, that is where the similarities between 1935 and 2014 will end. Two nights before the 1935 Grand Final, club legend Pratt was struck down by a truck driver who failed to stop as he stepped off a tram in Prahran. He would miss the big game, the Bloods would lose by twenty points and club president Archie Crofts assured Bloods supporters to remain patient as he began speculative talk of a ‘dynasty’.  Hmm, not quite Archie! As we all know, the Swans would not win another flag for seventy years. But alas, there are no trams in Sydney, so I mix another ‘Hot Toddy’ to celebrate and to toast the Bloods, both old and new.

Sydney 15.16 (106)

GWS 8.12 (60)


Sydney: K.Jack, Franklin, Kennedy, Pyke, Grundy, Smith, Malceski

GWS: Smith, Shiel, Bugg, Treloar


Sydney: Franklin 5, Tippett 2, Kennedy 2, K.Jack, McGlynn, Jones, Reid, Jetta, Bird

GWS: Bugg 2, Cameron 2, Whitfield, Ward, Smith, Hoskin-Elliott


27, 778 at SCG.


Fisher, Burgess, Pannell

Malarkey Medal Votes:

3 – Kieren Jack (Sydney)

2 – Buddy Franklin (Sydney)

1 – Josh Kennedy (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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