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Essendon v Sydney: The funeral march

I was woken this morning to a funeral march. A piece of music written by Chopin.

It was my sister’s idea of bringing a smile to my face, as I lay in bed, not wanting to face the reality of what I had witnessed at Etihad the night before. I pretended to still be asleep, so she left the bedroom, closed the door and stopped the music.

An hour later she tried it again. “Not amused!!” was my instant reply.

These same sentiments could well apply to the two hours on Friday night.

Buoyed by Thursday’s unveiling of Bobby Skilton’s statue at Lakeside Oval, and meeting former South players who fifty years ago were my heroes, I truly believed that my current heroes would fight back in true Bloods spirit this week, after the disaster against the Suns.

I was wrong.

This game was a thrashing. Sure, the scores were close for much of it, but in the end, a 43 point loss is what I call a thrashing. Especially for the Swans. We rarely lose by that much. And we rarely give in under pressure – especially in a final quarter when all is on the line.

It was certainly a game to forget.

My trip to Melbourne this time was supposed to be joyous. It started last Tuesday when we left Sydney, in SWANZ. That night, in our motel in Albury, I jotted down some of the many thoughts that had raced through my mind as we travelled the well-worn route of the Hume.

Without doubt these travelling-thoughts often involve my footy team. And my love for that footy team.

And these thoughts can sometimes be bizarre.

Between Goulburn and Albury – a four-hour journey – my fantasies definitely got the better of me.

They centred around death, and when I die. The thought of NO MORE SWANS started freaking me out!

Finished! Gone! Kaput! Oh God! How can they just not exist anymore! The mere thought of not knowing what they would achieve in the years to come, what players would come to the club, who would leave or retire, how many more premierships they would win, would they ever go to the bottom of the ladder…..Oh God! The thought of it all!

Ridiculous fantasies/imaginings, on and on they went! They were so real, so meaningful.

I kept trying to change track and think happy thoughts: ones about the upcoming game and whether we’d respond in true Bloods style against Essendon. Whether I’d be able to write a story with a happy ending this week. Whether any of it really mattered at all, win or lose. Why, it’s only a stupid game, so why get so caught up in it, week after week and decade after decade! And to feel so bloody miserable when we lose!

Absolutely stupid, I think to myself, imagining what death would be like without my football team!!

Then I come up with a solution. A couple of them.

1) I’ll have to rid myself of my Swans obsession before I die, thereby allowing me to leave this earth peacefully, without fear of “missing out” or

2) Make sure that I am re-born a human, come back to this earth, and preferably – no definitely – be born to Swans-loving parents in Sydney, who will make sure that their little child will be able, for at least 70 or 80 years, to continue her previous life’s passion for her footy team.

I think I’ve always had a pretty vivid imagination!

So, that’s it for this week.

I’m feeling completely gutted. Shattered. Sad. And if I don’t stop now, I’ll start crying!

Go 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.


  1. Oh dear…….

  2. george smith says

    OK, time for some therapy. Give yourself a footy marathon. Starting with GF 2005 (“Leo Barry you star!”) and ending with GF 2012 (“Malceski…Swans are premiers!”) lots of good stuff along the journey, Tommy Hafey’s dominant teams of 86/87, Lockett’s point to get the Swans in the grand final.

    After yesterday’s debacle I sat down to watch the super Saturday by elections. Nothing like watching a few politicians tie themselves in knots to cheer you up.

    Next week the 2 of us will go to the SCG for the Century or the Sack. here’s hoping the Footscray – style, backs to the wall stuff won’t work for another week…

    Go Pies!

  3. Stainless says

    Now Jan, please…
    I can take this sort of lamentation from long-suffering St Kilda supporters. I can even take it from Carlton folk, given their current predicament. But you’re complaining about a side that’s had 20+ years near the top of the heap and maybe, just maybe, they’re going to slip out of the finals for once.
    Ninth! Huh! My Tigers used to peak at ninth! #perspective :)

  4. Thanks, all

    I will certainly be watching the aforementioned, George, but having done so, so many times under normal circumstances over the years, not sure the viewing now will act as therapy just at the moment! I’m sure they’ll come in handy in the off season, in between the cricket.

    And, Stainless, the only perspective can be taken from my words above: ” Why, it’s only a stupid game, so why get so caught up in it….”

    Having already lived through 50 years of “St Kilda/Carlton misery”, why shouldn’t I be gutted to realise that perhaps our 20 years of success is coming to a halt! It’s only normal, surely?

  5. Neil Anderson says

    Hi Jan
    I’ve just emerged briefly from the bunker to scan some Almanac pieces. Maybe it was your article I wanted to comment on because we are…cough…in the same age bracket and we are are running out of time to witness more flags. The critics forget about the drought we endured up until 2005 for you and 2016 for me. Of course our ‘premiership’ drought was a walk in the park compared to what many farmers are currently experiencing in real life, as documented by the 7.30 Report.
    So I realize when we say ‘woe is me’ about our current lack of success with our footy clubs, there is a lot of tongue in cheek among all the angst. I hope those criticizing your ‘too-much-success’ recently understand that.
    When I realized half-way through this year that the Bulldogs were fielding a side minus ten-thirteen first-pick players, I went into rational-mode rather than sweating on a win the following week. I wrote on another Bulldog web-site after another flogging, ” How would those teams that have just mauled us cope if they were missing ten of their best players? ” I guess it is just the mind-games we play to make sense of our decline in fortunes.
    I think the 2016 premiership was like a big relief-valve for me. Recent books by Bob Murphy and Martin Flanagan have helped to keep that miracle fresh in my memory. But like you, it is only natural to want more success after a taste of those sweet victories.
    I hope you and your husband are well and perhaps our teams can regroup for 2019.

  6. Keiran Croker says

    It is disappointing when you realise that the hopes you had for your team for a particular season have amounted to nought. I think that’s were the Swans are now … might sneak in to the finals though definitely not premiership material for a range of reasons. As my dear departed Dad would say “there is always next year”. I’d be hoping for option 2 Jan … would not want to miss out on anything along the way!

  7. Oh dear, Neil: “running out of time to witness more flags”!! Don’t remind me! True, nonetheless. It must be disappointing for Dogs fans, that, for whatever reasons, you weren’t able to follow 2016 up with top of the ladder performances, and sustain your success. How difficult it is for that to happen though. At least my Swans have kept up there for so long now, and if (I stress if) we miss out on finals this year, the young kids we’ve blooded auger well for the future. Good luck! Thanks. Nice to hear from you again!

    Yes, Keiran, it is disappointing. Even if we did make finals, and with the players available, I doubt very much we would go far. The future looks bright though! Go Bloods!

  8. Stainless says

    I reckon Alex Johnson’s amazing return to AFL footy puts all our prattle into perspective. What a remarkable achievement!

  9. Agree. I wrote on the Swans Facebook page: If AJ’s return isn’t enough to fill the SCG to overflowing this Saturday night, then nothing will! What an amazing young man: to persist and persist and remain so positive throughout these past six years, is a testament to his character. He is certainly admired, not just by the Club and the players, but by the entire football community. Congratulations Alex.

    Talk about an inspiration! He was awarded Best Clubman at the Swans (I think it was in 2016), such is the high esteem the players have for him.

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised that his inclusion doesn’t inspire the team to victory this Saturday night!

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