AFL Round 23 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Venue: 10, Transport: 1.

Quite by accident (sort of) I found myself at ANZ Stadium to watch the Mighty Hawks do battle with the Super Swans on Friday night. I say by accident because it was really a last-minute family visit and daughter, knowing that I follow Hawthorn and not being averse to them herself, decided to get tickets. As she possesses the family fish gene, the tickets she chose were behind the goal posts among the Hawthorn supporters. I was sure that I would not mind this inconvenience, and we easily caught bus and train to Olympic Park with time to spare.

Now, I am new to the Sydney footy scene, so was prepared for almost anything, coming from a host of ‘Gabba visits over the past three years. The first thing that struck me was the superb stadium – spacious, clean, and with terrific screens if you could not see the play. The next was the comparative lack of shouting screaming and general hectoring that goes on up here in Brisbane – Sydneysiders get very little of the sponsorship crap that seems arbitrarily served up to Lion’s supporters. There was noise – yes, but it was not the overwhelming noise that makes conversation with one’s neighbours pointless. Indeed, by the time the game began I was on quite amicable speaking terms with an unknown friend on my left. He held one of those hand clacker things and madly clacked it whenever Hawthorn did anything good. It was very noisy. At half time, the lady in front turned to him and said ‘That thing is VERY IRRITATING, you know.’ I held my breath. If she had said that in Brisbane I think that she might have had the hand clapper clapped in her ear. In Sydney, all that my neighbour did was cease to use it for most of the second half of the game! I sat in wonder.

The next remarkable thing I noticed was the absence of inane boo-ing. True, Buddy copped his share after the controversial bump to Malceski, but that was to be expected. The Swans’ fans are largely appreciative of good play, and while not exactly cheering as their team was slowly ground to a halt in the last quarter, they certainly took it on the chin and allowed the Hawks to enjoy their win in a sportsmanlike fashion. My new friend offered me a Krispy Kreme donut just after the Hawks hit the front , and we were able to share the thrill of the win without being drowned out by disgruntled opposition growls. This was an experience long forgotten, and a surprise, coming in New South Wales, home of Thugby League.

I will leave it to fellow Almanackers to describe the thrilling game:  Jack, White and Mumford, Bird, Kennedy and Richards all played well for the Swans, while the usual suspects did their bit for Hawthorn. Spangher was a wonder and it was great to see Puopolo finally score a goal. Roughead missed his usual easy shots but still got a small bag for the night, and Gibson saved well.

Exiting Olympic Park after the game was a nightmare that I will not go into. Someone should take a stick – or a hand clapper – to the railway operators for their hopeless organisation at the two railway stations. We did make it home safely, and it was a great evening among a good crowd of 37980, mostly Sydney Swans supporters, who enjoyed the game, even if they lost, and did not spoil it for the winners with bad-tempered parochialism. Thank you, Sydney.



  1. Keep the pressure on them Glenda, maybe the Gabba management will learn to turn the volume down so we can hear one another, but I doubt it. Was Buddy hard done by? Will Cyril play this week?

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