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Round 6 – Brisbane v Sydney: My Heart is still racing, or is that because I am “old”? Those under 70’s: when it happens, just get used to it!

That was a heart-stopper! Far too close for my liking, but I survived.

Little did I ever think there would come a time when people would perceive me as old. I am not old – or don’t believe I am: I don’t feel old. I don’t think old. I don’t dress old. I don’t act old. I don’t walk old, and I don’t talk old. I don’t even have grey hair! But according to many people out there, I am old. They don’t say so to my face (which admittedly now has a few wrinkles), but their actions reveal their innermost thoughts.

“Can I help with your case?” a sweet young person asks as I easily manage its weight up the stairs at Central, for our train to the airport for our flight to Brisbane.

“Do you need a hand, lifting the case onto the train?” I hear from behind. I turn and see a man, surely no younger than I am, offering his support. How on earth did he know I was old, I think immediately, he only saw me from behind, and no wrinkles are obvious from there!

“You’re very kind, but I’m OK, thanks”, I reply.

“Would you like my seat?” a middle-aged person asks smilingly as I board the train.

“Are you sure?” she replies to my “I’m fine, thank you very much”.

The best of the morning was: “Would you like to go through this wider area with your case, it’s easier for older people”, the teenage-looking Sydney Transport employee chirped, as my smallish case-on-wheels slightly knocked the edge of the ticket entrance barrier.

I’m so shocked to hear someone actually say the word! Older, what the hell!

Sure, I also offer my help to old people, but they’re really old people – or so I believe, so I shouldn’t be so sensitive in my reactions, perhaps? To some people I am obviously on my last legs, and their considerate approaches are to be appreciated and recognised, as are those when the shoe is on the other foot. And, let’s face it, these are the people who keep the world ticking over, with their kind thoughts and actions towards others. But, do I really want to be reminded that I am in the latter stages of life – already, and so many times in just one morning?

Sitting on the train revives memories of the people of Dubai. Shortly after we arrived, on a two-day stop-over to London in February this year, I wondered whether they revered their elderly by ensuring they stay at home, wrapped in cotton wool, or whether they just locked them away! We did not see a local over the age of thirty, maybe forty. None on the Metro, none walking the streets, none in the largest shopping Mall in the universe, none in the cafes, and none at the airport when arriving and departing. Very strange, indeed.

But we were reminded, time and again, of our age status. We were offered seats on trains, seats at the airport, the lifting of our luggage, discounts in cafes, and occasionally a helping arm as we walked up and down stairs. We were spoken to as if we were deaf, and one young woman even wondered whether I could actually see the map! It was an unusual few days, and I felt embarrassed at times, but as our plane took off for London I had convinced myself that the elderly population of Dubai – wherever they were – must indeed be held in high esteem. Unless the kindness shown, only happens to the tourists!

No niceties happen at Sydney airport – we’re treated like everyone else – but I do actually get an aisle seat this time, and our flight is over in the time it’s taken to type these few words. We alight to that beautiful balmy Brissie air, and its familiarity is welcoming. I remember it all too well from our twenty two year hiatus here, before moving closer to the Swans seventeen years ago, and whenever we return, the pleasant memories accompany us.

We’ve had the full share of what this now sophisticated city has to offer; most notably, the relaxed atmosphere of the place. The country-town feel has long passed and even though everyone goes about their business no differently from those in the larger cities, the pace hasn’t really changed: no-one rushes – they move in a leisurely manner; no-one appears grumpy – most people smile at you; and, no matter what your age, everyone wants to help in some way. This laid-back city now has a lot to offer.

They’ve even decorated their ferries in the local sporting teams’ colours and images. With my Swans backpack proudly displayed on my back we wondered whether we should board the CityCat approaching the Southbank stop; it’s a Brisbane Lions ferry! “Maybe it’s a bad omen” Marshall mutters, as we walk up the gangway, to be greeted by the Master with “Good morning” and a smile. These Queenslanders! I had forgotten, with so many years in self-obsessed Sydney, how friendly they are!

Brisbane Ferry

Brisbane Ferry

Later the same day a Lions taxi pulls up – Queenslanders are also very innovative.

Brisbane Cab

Brisbane Cab

We’ve also had the typical range of Brisbane weather patterns too: sun, heat, humidity, dark black clouds, and a downpour of torrential cleansing rain. Then, it’s all back to the normal Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next Queensland catchphrase. Sunday however is very overcast and some rain is predicted for the game.

We walk from our apartment in West End to the Gabba, and our clothes are clinging to our backs such is the humidity, but, no matter how hot it gets, we mustn’t remove our guernseys; they identify us. Waiting for the bounce, I’m wondering whether we too can kick a massive score and have a win in the manner of the Giants and Cats, but with the rain now heavier, and the lights on, that is doubtful. Surely the most telling victory this weekend has been that of GWS. Unlike most hotels and rental apartments, ours has Fox Footy – and the magical recording device – so I’ve been able to see most games, and the Giants were superb. Are they that good or was Hawthorn suffering from those last gasp efforts the last three weeks? They looked exhausted from the start.

There are plenty of Swans supporters here today, and we’re right in amongst them. Despite constant rain in the first quarter, the Lions kick the first two goals, and unlike all of our first quarter efforts this year when we’ve kicked more behinds than goals, remarkably we manage 7.1 for the quarter – all in the last twelve minutes, and in the rain: three from Buddy and three from our new cygnet Georgie Hewitt. This all bodes well for the rest of the game, I think to myself.

With a 22 point advantage going into the second quarter, and the rain still coming down, the pressure from the Lions limits our wet-weather play-on style, and they add two goals before we manage our first for the quarter, twenty minutes in. The ball has spent most of its time in their forward half but fortunately their kicking for goal helps our cause, as we go to the main break with a 14 point breather.

Buddy kicks a monster from 50 metres in the first thirty seconds and our lead of 20 points is the highest we will achieve from then on. The rain has stopped, and although I simply assume we will now kick on, it just doesn’t happen. The Lions keep at us and their contested play, good wet-weather footy and determination belie their lowly position on the ladder. The score difference oscillates between 15 and 9 points for much of the quarter, and the intensity escalates when only 1 point separates the two teams.

The hot sun has returned and I’m forced to move to a standing position at the back, in amongst the drinkers. I stand with half a dozen Swans fans and although I put up with their extreme swearing and abuse of umpire Razor Ray for the rest of the last quarter, my main concern is Brisbane – getting closer and closer – and thinking this just can’t be happening! When they kick another goal, and with 3 points the difference, one of the very intoxicated guys next to me decides it’s now time to show me his range of South Melbourne/Bloods/Swans tats adorning his torso, arms and legs. “Hell, mate, can’t I look at them later?” I blurt out, and seconds later when Lukey Parker marks and kicks the winning goal, with me jumping up and down with excitement, he plants a drunken, slobbering kiss on my cheek! Oh my god!! What the hell, the siren went shortly after, and we’d won! Well, he was a Swans supporter so I can’t complain too much!

The Lions roared today and all credit to them. They pushed us to the limit. And, as has been proven this year, on any given day, any team can beat another – or almost.

Extremely relieved, I go back to where Marshall is sitting in the sun, and we sing Cheer Cheer. These are times when a good stiff drink comes in handy, so we stop off at a bar at Southbank, on our way back to the apartment, and celebrate our too-close-for-comfort win. It’s the first alcohol I’ve drunk for seven months, and it tasted wonderful!

Later, I walk into a shop for a bottle of water. Twisting and turning a particularly difficult blue plastic top a few times, a voice appears from nowhere: “Are you OK with that, can I help?” I look up, a little startled (I just can’t get used to it!), and as I start my usual response, the blue plastic answers for me. I give thanks, and smile as I walk off. She didn’t even mind that I was decked out in red and white!

However, the very best age-related comment came on Saturday, during our four-day stay. Rushing to catch another ferry at Southbank, the CityCat employee at the entrance asked: “Do you know where you’re going?” I am really hoping it was nothing more than “Are you going up or downstream?” but I do wonder!

Word of warning to all those young ones out there – at least those under seventy: It happens all too quickly, and before you know it, a kind, considerate person will be tapping you on the shoulder offering assistance! Just get used to it!

My highlights from the game:
Buddy and his 5 goals
Tippo, especially in the last quarter
Hanners, Joey, Parkes and the rest of the mids
Dane Rampe off the backline
And congratulations to Aliir Aliir

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.


  1. Really liked your report, I too feel the pain experienced when those around you think that you are frail aged. This was particularly brought home to me when on a recent trip overseas I was placed in a “quick queue” at a customs counter much o the chagrin of my wife who had to fight her battles with the””normals”.

    Meanwhile, I am tempted to observe that “youse were bloody lucky to get up” but your was fair so I suppose that I should be as well.

  2. “you were “; perhaps I am getting past it.

  3. Ross Treverton says

    Hi Jan. I was working at the Carlton v Essendon game at the MCG when the 2nd half of the Swans game was in progress. By the 15 minute mark of the last quarter, l had given up all pretence of working and was just watching the final minutes on my phone. Hail Luke Parker – yet again! Nerve wracking stuff. But then l had to endure a first half of football at the G that was as poor as anything l’ve seen in recent years. I’m not saying our boys were at their best yesterday, but we red and whites continue to be blessed with a group of players who give everything for their team. Cheer, cheer.

  4. Great story Jan.

    4 points are 4 points, so I’ll take that anytime, even though we weren’t at our best.

    I agree with Ross. Hail Luke Parker! Sounds as though you enjoyed being back in Brisbane.

  5. Jan, I just enjoyed your great article.

    It just flows so well out of you. Good on you.

    I’m glad you won and had such a friendly time in Brissie!

    No incentive to get Swan tattoos after the parade of your fellow supporter’s?

  6. jan courtin says

    Thank you Peter, Ross, Marcel and Kathy
    Peter: Fortunately my husband gets lumbered into the “age” queue with me, even though I’m 12 years younger!
    Ross: Yes, Luke Parker was magnificent. I hope you’ll be off work so you can attend the Richmond or Hawthorn games in a few weeks, or if you’re working at the G, I’m sure you’ll have your red and white socks on under the uniform. Cheer Cheer
    Marcel: Yes, the four points are what counts when the siren goes, and may they continue to add up.
    Kathy: I was tempted to get a tattoo in 2005, but they’re not really my thing! Not sure what half the world will do in a few years’ time when they’re out of fashion!

  7. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,another very enjoyable read. I was looking forward to a relaxing day watching the Swans chalk-up an easy victory against Brisbane. How wrong I was! We banked the 4 points,but??? Loved your stories about people’s attitudes to age. Have you ever been addressed as “deary”? At that point you are well and truly past “use by” date!! See you at the Tigers game.

  8. jan courtin says

    Thanks Tony. Never been called “deary”. Darling quite often, but I don’t make much of that, as I call my husband darling! Oh, I forgot! He’s “old”!

  9. Thank you love for your very informative and humorous account of your ‘seniors’ trip to Brisbane – well done deary too for managing to get on ferries and planes and trains and going out to the footy – at your age! What is this world coming to – not like back in my day……

  10. jan courtin says

    That’s a funny one Jude! And I’ll be managing to pack SWANZ next week and drive all that way down to Melbourne, and I’ll be jumping on and off trams, and driving to Ocean Grove, and going to the footy – and who knows what else I might get up to!

  11. Don Meadows says

    Jan, I chortled my way through your “old” stories. I tend to get the same treatment since moving past the threescore years and ten – the assistant at the chemist who pats my arm affectionately/consolingly, the polite young woman who offers her seat on the tram – I smile and say “Thanks, but I’m OK” while thinking “I could bench press you if necessary.”

    And what a lesson we got in not taking any game for granted! Not that the team did, but Brisbane played out of their skins, and they do have some solid talent anyway. I particularly like watching Mitch Robinson, who grew up as a Swans supporter. I had him as next BOG after Buddy.

  12. jan courtin says

    Hi Don. Thanks.
    I like the “I could bench press you if necessary.” Unfortunately we’re just not seen in that light! And when you think about it, we would have been just the same at a young age – thinking that a 40 year old was “old”. I can’t even remember what I thought a 60, 70 or even an 80 year old person to be – no doubt ancient, and not worth even thinking about!!

    Age certainly helps us to see things in perspective.

    And, yes, we mustn’t take winning a game for granted. However, let’s hope this week’s game will reward us with not only 4 points, but percentage!

  13. Neil Anderson says

    It’s a fine line between younger people stepping in to help because they recognize a ‘senior’ that might need help and being ignored when you really do need help.
    I am still surprised when someone offers to help me particularly with a lifting task. I am a baby-boomer about to reach the three score and ten but I don’t feel that old and hopefully don’t act that old.
    I think baby-boomers are in denial about their age, because as Dick Smith said once, ” Anyone born in Australia after 1945 were part of the most fortunate group in the world.” We’ve had a good run.
    The worse thing for men and particularly women of our age and older is to be ignored and invisible.

  14. jan courtin says

    All very true Neil.
    Of course my article was ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek in terms of the experiences I had in Brisbane, but I’m only too well aware of the other side of the story – the invisibility and being ignored; I see it all the time in my voluntary work with the elderly. Very sad for some, especially those unable to get out of their homes, and when depression sets in.

  15. Hi which hotel did you stay at. I want one with fox footy too

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