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Finals Week 1 – Fremantle v Sydney preview


This weekend represents the ultimate backs against the wall situation for the Swans. It was already going to be a tough task to take on the Dockers in their own backyard. First Luke Parker goes down with a busted leg. We then loose our co-captain Kieren Jack to a knee injury over the weekend. Finally our goal kicking star Buddy Franklin has had to withdraw as he is battling an ongoing mental health condition. The one thing I know about the Swans is that we love a scrap and are arguably at our most dangerous when the odds are in our face. Write us off at your own peril.


Luke Parker and Kieren Jack’s injuries will heal with time, hopefully by preliminary final weekend. As for Buddy, I can’t begin to think of the complexity of the challenge he faces. The news hit with a sledgehammer. All we can do is hope that he has the right people around him and the support he needs to get through the challenge. Football can, and will wait, until he feels comfortable again to lace on the boots. I wish him well.


This week my mind has been racing back to situations where we have won the unwinnable. This mountain against the Dockers can be climbed.


In the 2012 Grand Final we were written off by most judges. Not enough talent to beat the Hawks apparently. I don’t make a habit of hugging 70 year old female strangers, however, at 5.08pm on that memorable Saturday afternoon the euphoria of a courageous victory, and a shared love of the Sydney Swans had taken over M29, row E of the Olympic stand. Goodsey on one leg, Mitch Morton seizing the day, Mike Pyke coming of age in the final quarter. I will never forget that moment when the siren went.


Did I hear you say Nick Davis? The Swans were gone for all money in the 2005 Second Semi Final at three quarter time. A hero emerged as Davis kicked them from everywhere bar the tenth row of the Brewongle Stand in the last quarter. The premiership dream was slipping away that evening and the team found a way to win when all was lost. Davis will be linked to that moment in time forever. The opportunity awaits for someone to create their own piece of football immortality this weekend.


The Dockers pressure this week will be manic. We only have to cast our mind back to earlier this year when they put us to the sword in the first half. They have a driven coach in Ross Lyon and arguably the best player in the competition in Nat Fyfe. The crowd also presents a unique challenge with its ferocity.


A win this weekend will take courage, determination and execution. We must take our chances when presented. A massive challenge awaits for Sam Reid in Buddy’s absence. He must conquer his kicking ‘demons’ and hit the scoreboard. Sam has the opportunity to come of age on Saturday. I am backing him in.


Big Kurt Tippett and Mike Pyke need to get in Sandilands face and clear a path for the midfield brigade. Nothing fancy, just good old fashioned bash and crash. I would recommend they give Barry Round a call for some advice.


With adversity comes opportunity. Can Mitchell, Cunningham, Heeney and Brandon Jack bring their skill and dare to the furnace of finals? We will need all 22 hands on deck to get the chocolates.


The AFL marketing department obviously didn’t check with the Dodson household when scheduling the match for 3.20pm on Saturday. Young Harry Dodson will be having his first birthday party. There will be chocolate crackles, fairy bread, tantrums and organised chaos in Bell Street Seddon.


We sent out the invites months ago. We have family coming from Wagga and Devonport, who are travelling to Melbourne to mark the occasion. Luckily for me we listed the party to run from 1pm to 3pm. I might have to act like a nightclub bouncer and ‘turn the lights on’ at 3pm to disperse the crowd, so I can settle in for the big match.


Much like the players I will need to maintain my focus during the party. If a balloon bursts I must have two inflated and ready to go. If a scraped knee needs a Band-Aid I must apply it with surgical care. I must take photos until my ‘trigger finger’ aches. I may need to take an ice bath afterwards to recover.


As for Harry I am sure he will be happy enough with the red and white balloons, and Peter Rabbit cake, to take much of a vested interested in whether Horse Longmire plays a loose man in defence.


The challenge has been set. The stakes are high and our backs against the wall. Be brave and be bold you Swannies.



About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

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