Almanac Poetry – Red and White



This poem, found recently, stored in the shed with boxes of family history, would have been penned in 1957 when I was 13. Kenny Boyd received his first long suspension that year, so 1957 it was.


Jan Courtin's 'Red and White' poem

Jan Courtin’s ‘Red and White’ poem


I did have another passion when I was 13 – Elvis. Much to my mother’s despair, I snuck out of my posh private all-girls school (which I hated) one day and had my long blond hair chopped off and cut just like that handsomest of handsome men. The nuns had phoned Mum asking why they hadn’t received a letter from her, explaining about my dental appointment that day. I had told them I’d forgotten to bring it to school. I was pretty good at telling little fibs at 13. I saved my pocket money for the haircut and also bought myself an Elvis heart-shaped chain which I refused to take off morning or night. I shortened my skirts and held them up with a black leather silver-studded belt – just like the one Elvis wore. I called myself a Widgie.


Whilst this passion was very real, nothing could compare to my REAL passion: those holier-than-thou god-like figures of my beautiful handsome men in red and white. I dreamt of them week in week out; I drew Swans on my school exercise books; I wore red and white ribbons under my school uniform; I spent hours cutting out Sporting Globe and The Argus articles about them; I collected hundreds of autographs when jumping over the fence after games; I sang the South song in my head when I was supposed to be reciting holy prayers; I cried when we lost and on the odd occasion when we won, I cried, as if we’d won a grand final. I also believed I was old enough, at age 13, to be allowed to go out with one of my beautiful handsome Swans men, but my mother wouldn’t have any of it. That happened later, when I didn’t have to obey my Mother – but that’s another story.


So, in 1957 when we finished second from the bottom on the ladder with seven wins and 11 losses I must have written this poem. Bobby Skilton had been with us for one year; Freddie Goldsmith was moved from full back to full forward and topped the goal kicking; ‘Midget’ McGowan had a great year; Jimmy Taylor won the best and fairest and was fourth in the Brownlow; and when we defeated Melbourne, the reigning premiers, in the penultimate round of the home and away season, we had won 6 of the last 9 games and felt invincible. We then went on to win the Night Grand Final beating Geelong by 51 points. There were lots of happy tears that night!


The poem wasn’t finished. My mind must have been racing towards a happy ending as the last few lines (also unfinished) were hurriedly typed up without having found something to rhyme withsomething something doom. Those were the days – lots of doom. Ah! that’s the line – the one I must have been looking for: something something over the moon!


How times have changed. Much less of the doom and gloom.


Go the Mighty Bloods.

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About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.

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