Finals Week 1 – Sydney v GWS: Devastated but Oh So Proud!




Devastation is a powerful word, with very specific connotations. It is what is happening in Afghanistan at the moment. It is rife in many other strife–torn regions of the world, and it is also a state of mind being felt by countless people whose loved ones have died.


The root of the word Devastation is the Latin vastare which means to lay waste, which comes from vastus meaning desolate or empty.


Can I therefore say that at this very minute, I feel devastated? Devastated at the result of a football game? I shouldn’t even be thinking of such a word in these circumstances, but that is how I feel!


At half time I needed to get out of the house, breathe the fresh air, see some nature, and rid myself of thoughts of my team being behind by four goals, after a very poor showing in the second quarter. Marshall and I wandered down to Albert Park Lake, a 10 minute walk away. The sun was shining, the air a little cool, and the lake was calm. People strolled along the lake’s edge, watching the swans and ducks, chatting away behind their masks, and all completely oblivious to my thoughts about a game of footy. I took a couple of photos of swans in the lake and messaged them to my Swans’ sisters and brother “Would rather watch these guys than those on the tele at the moment!”


An hour later we arrived back home. Switched back to the game from the third quarter, hoping maybe, just maybe, we could come back. Five goals down mid–way through the quarter, we clawed back to a deficit of 17 points at the end of the term.


And then that final quarter.


It all became a bit too much for me, and at times I resorted to the fast–forwarding habit when it got really close. With 17 forward entries to their 7 for the term (65 to 45 for the match), we simply did not use that advantage (especially in the first and last quarters). With an unbelievable seven behinds (including three posters) in the final 30 minutes, our two goals to their one simply wasn’t enough in the end. The game was there for us to grab, but sadly we blew our chances.


Throwing the remote on the ground, I turned the tele off, and the tears formed. Tears for myself. Tears for the players (especially those who missed the goals in the final quarter). Tears for the coaches, the staff and the Club. Tears for what we had achieved all year, all coming down to 1 point! Tears, just tears!


Then, about ten minutes after having watched the entire game, Marshall (his memory–affected dementia really shining through) asked “What is the matter?” “The football, the football!!” I moaned loudly. “Why, what happened? “We lost by a f…..point, a f….point, and it was an elimination final!” I screamed. It didn’t seem to register, and as I spent the next half an hour or so just wandering around the house aimlessly, repeating a variety of profanities, he just sat quietly, waiting for his dinner.


I had to share my thoughts with someone, so phoned my brother and two sisters. My brother was also devastated. “I haven’t feel as affected by a finals loss like this since the 2006 Grand Final” was all he could say. His parting words were “Well, we should start to feel OK in a few days, and without doubt, footy is more than just a game!”


An hour later, having no interest in eating, I sat myself in front of the box and watched some of the paralympians perform. They certainly helped get things into perspective a little, then onto the Melbourne Brisbane game, hoping that would distract me. Mostly I saw flickering images on the screen as I found it impossible to really concentrate, and my mind kept returning to our game and those missed opportunities in the final minutes.


Several hours have now passed and it’s bedtime. Hopefully I’ll sleep. If I don’t, then I’ll make sure I concentrate on the many positives my team has achieved this year and how proud all Swans people are of those achievements. We have exceeded all expectations. We have remained in the top eight throughout the season. We have beaten almost all of the final eight teams at some point. We have played with dare and flare most of the year, to say nothing of the talent shown. We have blooded debutants (10 of them in today’s game) who will become the nucleus of a successful team for the future, and that is indeed something all Bloods fans can look forward to.


And there are personal positives to be taken from today’s loss. The team and staff will now be able to return home to their loved ones, having been on the road for months, and we, the supporters, can relax and be stress–free for the rest of the season. And that’s saying something!


In between sleep and wakening, I might also remind myself of the swans in the lake this afternoon, two in particular, courting each other. It was a beautiful sight that, for several minutes, had me transfixed. Their heart–shaped embrace will surely help eliminate any devastating thoughts that I might let creep back into my consciousness during the night. Instead, I will just see that heart, to remind myself of my love for the red and the white.


Go Bloods!


Swans courting, Albert Park Lake


PS I hope Geelong beats the daylights out of the Giants next week!


SYDNEY                                            3.2   5.4   8.6     10.13 (73)

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY         3.2   9.3   11.7   11.8 (74)



Sydney: Heeney 4, Franklin 3, Papley 2, Bell

Greater Western Sydney: Greene 3, Sproule 2, Himmelberg 2, Hogan 2, Taranto, Lloyd



Sydney: Heeney, Parker, Franklin, Dawson, Papley, Hewett, Hickey

Greater Western Sydney: Greene, Taranto, Kelly, Perryman, Mumford, Hogan, Sproule, Taylor



Sydney: McLean (leg)

Greater Western Sydney: Cumming (ankle)



Sydney: Robbie Fox (replaced Hayden McLean)

Greater Western Sydney: Tanner Bruhn (replaced Isaac Cumming)


Crowd: 8,635 at University of Tasmania Stadium


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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.


  1. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,a devastating loss. We were all over them in the last quarter,but too many wayward shots at goal. So close yet so painfully far away. Our Swannies have brought much joy to their loyal supporters this year,and all bodes well for the immediate future. Your swans photo is so beautiful. Go Bloods.

  2. Marie Teague says

    That photo!! Magnificent Jan. I know I shouldn’t be concentrating on that but it is so beautiful. You should enter it into a competition. . Back to the footy – so sorry Jan. We barracked very hard with Tony. Nicky said he’s sort of relieved with the result as he would feel really guilty barracking against Sydney next week against Geelong!! We will try very hard to beat GWS – but we need to play a lot bloody better than this week. Again Jan, we’re really sorry for you. Love Marie and Nicky.

  3. Julie Cattlin says

    Well, I just don’t know how you football fans do it!!I realise that it brings you all great joy, but to lose by one point is just awful. Then again, I never want anyone to lose in sport. That’s obviously why I’m not a supporter. I watched some Olympic events and I was so sad for everyone who didn’t win.
    The photo, Jan. Had you been a few seconds earlier or later, you would have missed it. Timing is everything. It is truly a lovely image. So good you live near the lake and the old ground. But, of course, that’s what you planned.
    I assume you and the other family members who barrack for the Swans can have a relaxing time for the next two weeks. Please do, and don’t think of the world – just relax!! The world and COVID will still be there after the finals.
    Julie xxxx

  4. Caspar McLeod says

    Wonderful piece, Jan, and a great photo too! It was a heartbreaking loss, but I have no doubt next year we’ll bounce back again. Go Bloods.

  5. Many thanks Tony, Marie, Julie and Casper.

    Still feels raw, but time will heal!

    Cheer cheer

  6. Hi Jan, great to read another of your thoughtful pieces about the Swans. We have missed you and Marshall at the footy pre COVID. I no longer live in Sydney either have moved back to the country. All the best to you and Marshall.


  7. Sue: lovely to hear from you. I’ve missed being there too! Cheer cheer

  8. Karen Lingard says

    Great heartfelt piece about The Bloods.
    Enjoy reading your comments, very much on same track as mine but, I’m not as articulate as to write as you do.
    Might bump into you around the lake in the off season.

  9. Karen: Many thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.
    Cheer cheer and Go Bloods!

  10. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Jan,
    A few weeks on the disappointment has subsided somewhat. It was a missed opportunity. I think we would have beaten the Cats and at least got to play a preliminary final. We indeed performed way in excess of expectations with lots of development. The kids look great.
    It will be disappointing if we loss Dawson and Hewett as reported, however I have every confidence in our recruiters that we will add some talent to our already impressive list.
    I trust that we will be able to get back to live footy next season. I hope to see you at a game in Melbourne or at the Riser.

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