An Ode to the Glorious Past

Roughly two years ago, I received the unwelcome news that my Nan had fallen ill – seriously ill. With a two-hour flight and a four-hour drive separating us, my urgent need to travel was painfully real.


That day was horrendous.


The knowing that her situation was dire while I remained hopelessly in transit left me in a state of mind that I’d happily not revisit. We’d always been close and for the first time in my life, I felt like we were a world apart.


Fortunately I arrived in good time and her health had slightly improved. What transpired over the following days will never vacate my mind.


My Nan grew up in a stoic era. Her fortitude and resolution were to be admired. Her love of all things sport, to me, was magnetic. Nan was always my greatest supporter and she dedicated countless hours to the encouragement of all her many grandchildren’s many pursuits. Nan encouraged my love for Australian Football. She fostered my love for the Swans.


My formative footy experiences always included her. The 1996 Grand Final spent on our family couch in Orange. The long walk across the Sydney Cricket Ground during kick-to-kick, shielding our diminutive dynamo from the legion of flying Sherrins. The day trips to the big smoke just to join our beloved Bloods brethren in cheer, cheering the red and the white. These instants were all crucial in the forming of my fanaticism.


Conversations were always genuine, caring and mindful. But, she had so much adventure in the present, that she rarely mentioned the past. And I never asked.


As my Nan lay ill, I spent a handful of days in idle chat with her. She spoke about the past. And I asked. I’d never heard her speak with such candor and fondness about her upbringing. It felt as though after spending many of my adult years away, this was our chance, our final chance at a truly genuine reconnection.


This is when I learnt of my great grandfather, Hughie Kerr. Nan was one of eleven children, so I already had incredible reverence for what my grandmother’s parents had accomplished. However, it so happened that there was much more to Hughie’s story.


At fifteen years of age, after falsifying his actual age, he joined the throngs of young Australian men headed to the unknown of World War One. Poignantly, Banjo Paterson described the farewell from our shores – ‘As gracefully as a fleet of swans after some great leader, the fleet drop into place and soon are rising to the sea’. I cannot fathom and I remain unable to reconcile the magnitude of this incredible newfound ANZAC connection.


Nan described her Dad as a ‘great bloke’, which surely must be the highest of compliments. This great bloke received the Medaille Militaire for acts of bravery, courage and devotion to duty. Nan, while clearly proud of his achievements, preferred to remember the way in which he loved and cared for his family. Perhaps this is the reason for me never knowing of his feats.


She spoke of many things that we’d never spoken of before, such as meeting my eternally loveable and mischievous Pop and after regretfully saying what would be my final goodbye, I returned home with my most meaningful memories of a truly wonderful lady. Nan went gently into the night a short time after that. Those moments at her bedside will never be forgotten.


I learnt much from her in that time spent together. We reminisced, as this was the time most in appropriate to do so. But, as those final opportunities for kinship were shared, I realised that while the past most certainly has an important place in our lives, the importance lies in how you approach the present.


The football club for which we shared such an affinity is laboring through some challenging times at present, and with a youthful contingent. We too, have a storied past. In recent times, until now, it is a story of success. But, just as my dear old Nan would have done being one of so many children in a three-bedroom house, we will all experience a myriad of emotions as they now find their own way.


Glorifying past champions and achievements has its place and it always will. This is what makes memories and reminiscence so essential. However, while our present contingent forge on in search of some of that old-fashioned tenacity that we’ve all become accustomed to, we as supporters owe them our loyalty and sincerity.


My Nan taught me that sport is the great leveler and you handle your moments of strife with a certain grace. No swearing- certainly no swearing. There are more civilised ways to air your grievances. In ANZAC round, and as frustrations mount with an unsatisfactory beginning to the current season, I’m channeling my grandmother’s unwavering devotedness and my great grandfather’s bravery to keep the faith. It’s in the blood.


We’ve shared a glorious past. We need now look ahead. The future simply must appear to be bright for that is what keeps a semblance of sanity in us all. Nan very nearly met her every great grandchild, this seemed her purpose in the final years. We should look forward to these impending moments of glory. They’re closer than many might think.



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


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Your Nan was very wise indeed Joe. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Hi Joe
    It is just so important to be able to share memories with loved ones. So often it just doesn’t happen, and the ensuing “If only I’d known more, or asked questions…..” is then too late! You were lucky! And lucky that she was a Bloods person.
    Cheer cheer

  3. Ross Treverton says

    A great story Joe and one that reminded me very much of my own Grandmother. She lived to be 107 and similarly engendered a love of the Swans and taught me many life lessons that remain with me to this day. I grew up listening to her stories about Bob Pratt and Laurie Nash as if they were family friends – and in a sense they were. No matter how many defeats or how heavy the losses (and there were plenty in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s) there was no question of anything other than looking forward to the next game. Every match had a positive note to it, whether it be the 19 year old with half a dozen games, or a stylish mark or goal to recall. She was widowed at the age of 42, so 65 years of, in one sense, being on her own but with a much wider family who loved and cared for her. Even writing this, l can still see her sitting in the old red brick stand at the Lake Oval encouraging with her favourite catchcry ‘go you mighty bloodstained angels’. A great lady.

Leave a Comment