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Finals Week 1 – Sydney v GWS: What’s the definition of a bad loser and do I fit the mould?



Yes, I do, if you take it to mean: one who is devastated after their loss. No, I don’t, if you take it to mean: one who complains or blames others for their loss.


As with the reaction of all supporters when their team loses, this was a hard one to swallow.


We ended up on top of the ladder for a reason. We’re a damn good footy team. Only twice this year we’ve not played well. Only twice this year we’ve not shown that Bloods spirit for the full 120 minutes, and only twice this year our supporters have left the ground truly disappointed (or so I assume). And, on both occasions it’s happened against that little upstart of a team – the AFL’s baby.


As they’ve done all year, the baby played well. On Saturday we played badly. It showed. Our attack on the ball was listless and our attack on the man was lazy, and at times non-existent. And, this game was played after a bye. Only twice since 2009 have we won after a bye!


They attacked as if there was no tomorrow, sometimes brutally. Two of those attacks should certainly have resulted in no tomorrows for their Mummy and their favourite newly adopted son. The son, in keeping with his history of temper and aggression, got his due punishment (albeit slight), but their Mummy – the brute – got off scott free, despite the recipient of his attack suffering a fracture to his cheekbone and a week (at least) on the sidelines. Fair? No. The AFL has to protect its baby.


This protection ensures that the best kids in the land end up in the orange and grey; for seven years, they have received on average approximately 10 more 1st round picks than any other team, and this advantage – although modified – will continue. Where was this protection 34 years ago when the football gods wanted to spread our great game and dumped South Melbourne in Sydney? Where was it when the then Sydney Swans were on the brink of bankruptcy a few years later and only survived because dedicated private individuals made it possible?


History defines who we are. It defines our footy clubs and it defines its supporters. Almost all of the Victorian teams have long-standing proud histories, as do those in the other footy states – histories that have stood the test of time and have allowed family traditions to be been passed on decade after decade to ensure that the passion for a footy club continues into the next generation. That passion has kept the football clubs going.


This is a new beginning in the Giants’ history. Unlike any other club, they have been privileged. Its supporters have been privileged and indeed its players have been privileged. A couple of years of beltings – big deal! They and the loving AFL always knew it wouldn’t take long for the best in the land to gel and make a success of it. I wonder how the struggling clubs in Melbourne, and Fitzroy of the past, feel about this privilege? I know how I feel.


And this privilege goes even further. They end up 4th on the ladder and are allowed to play on their home ground – despite its capacity – in one of the biggest games of the year next week. The Swans finish top of the ladder and are NOT ALLOWED to play on their home ground in one of the biggest games of the year, last weekend. Fair? No bloody way.


Our Saturday loss was compounded the following day when we took another trip to Rooty Hill to the Blacktown International Sportspark to see the Bloods take on the upstarts in the Reserves Grannie.


What a great day for Aussie Rules in Sydney. There were four consecutive games played on Sunday, starting at 9am and finishing with a game at 4.30pm. Three of them were prelims and our Grand Final was at 1.30pm. The Swans had lost the previous four big ones, all by close margins. Last year, against Aspley, it was after the siren.


In this one, with Laidler and Nankervis pulling out for possible inclusions into the Seniors against Adelaide, Mumford’s attack on Tippett was also having an indirect affect on the reserves team, leaving our ruck stocks depleted. The game was neck and neck after half time, and the lead changed about six times in the last quarter. It was a terrible sight to see Zac Jones knocked unconscious not long before the end of the game and carried off on a stretcher. He was certainly in contention for the Seniors this week, but that’s now highly unlikely. And when Tyrone Leonardis went down clutching his knee we were two men down on the bench. The Swans two points up with 33 minutes on the clock, the ball went down their end, Teddy Richards slipped whilst dropping the mark, and his opponent goaled. Siren sounded and we lose by four points. Oh, how I felt for Teddy! In presumably his last game, it had to finish like that! All very depressing.


Memories of footy on the old suburban grounds came flooding back as we were allowed onto the ground after the game, and during the intervals. With players from both teams carrying out the post game rituals: the Swans guys sitting on the ground looking devastated and most of them with tears in their eyes, and the Giants players receiving their medallions, the next two teams’ players ran out onto the ground for the preparations for their game. What a sight! The ground full of people: 44 players practising at both ends of the field, 44 players having just played, thousands of supporters milling around, celebrating or consoling, and many of the senior Swans players were there giving the young guys a hug. I noticed, without too much interest, some of the Giants players as well. Stuff them, I thought, under my breath.


Not a nice weekend at all for the Mighty Bloods.


So, after three days of mourning and not feeling the least inclined to writing anything this week, here I am, being a bad loser! And if you’re not sure which category I fall under, read the first para again.


I keep reminding myself of 2005. We lost the QF and went on to play the next three games. And we all know who won that year!

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. Its a bitter pill to swallow but one that has to be taken.

    GWS were too fast, too strong, too good. Well done to them, let’s hope we learnt the lesson and get the chance to redeem ourselves in the granny.

    There is not much between the top 5 teams and the way the doggies played they will also be dangerous.

  2. All too true, Dave. Thanks

    Wondering if the “top 5 teams” was a typo? Who are you leaving out of the equation?

    Go the Bloods!

  3. Just realised the Doggies were the 6th!

  4. Sorry, but Tippet’s jaw (not cheekbone) got its crack on Ward’s knee in an earlier, accidental tangle – had absolutely nothing to do with the Mummy “sling”.

    And seven years of 10 first round picks is really impressive for a club in its fifth season of existence.

    There are other points in there I’m not going to bother with – beyond saying that History has to start somewhere and every club in the league, including yours, was only five years old at one point.

  5. Yes, we had a shocker! Hope we put it behind us, and triumph over Adelaide.

  6. S Duffy is spot on with his observation of club history.

    Probably a long bow for the Swans to claim injustice.

    GWS d Sydney.
    Jan – if we consider 5 classic stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, where do you place yourself?.

  7. kath presdee says

    I’ve cooled down a bit now, so many of the comments I would have made on this article, I won’t.

    I take significant exception, however, as a supporter, to being regarded as “privileged” in such a sneering and condescending tone. Is there a minimum qualifying period where one is required to be the league’s whipping boys before you’re allowed to play Finals’ Football? If you look at West Coast, Adelaide and Port Adelaide – the older expansion clubs – these teams were starting to play finals at a similar stage in their development – and those teams have all won more Premierships than the Bulldogs, Demons and Saints have in the last thirty years.

    Is it privileged when you make more of the concessions that were granted to you – most of which were also granted to the Gold Coast, who instead went with a “Team Ablett” approach that is yet to pay off?

    What GWS has done over the last five years is refused to conform to the story that the other clubs (and their supporters) wanted to write for it. They didn’t take the discards of other Clubs; they didn’t have two year players leaving en masse for the bright lights of Melbourne. They didn’t stay easy beats. We held together, we traded for better draft picks and developed the kids, who decided to stay with their mates and taste success together.

    I regard myself as privileged in seeing boys develop into men, to seeing talent finally reach potential and being part of the development of a club – making the traditions and setting the standards. It’s also staying when your team is copping ten goal thrashings every second week (interposed between eight and nine goal thrashings) and hoping that things will one day turn around; that the exodus that every Melbourne-based footy commentator has predicted will occur actually won’t and that some of these kids stick around and being rewarded with games like Saturday and feelings like Sunday – where it wasn’t just the close win, but watching most, if not all, of the senior squad playing kick to kick in the intervals with kids, or signing autographs, or posing for photographs. They were cheering on their mates and it was great to be a part of it.

  8. Hi Dave
    Thanks for your comment
    I too agree with S Duffy’s comment on history. As I said in the article “This is a new beginning in the Giants’ history.”

    Sorry, I don’t really understand your “Probably a long bow for the Swans to claim injustice.” I didn’t claim “injustice”. I was stating the difference in the lack of interest and support from the governing body that dumped South in Sydney 34 years ago and when the Swans were almost bankrupt a few years later, compared with the current initiative of the AFL in spreading the game to Western Sydney and their favoured treatment to the Giants.

    And finally, I don’t place myself in any of the stages you’ve mentioned – I’m at a stage of anticipation for the next match!

  9. Hi Steve & Kath
    Thanks for your comments.

    Steve: My mistake, re Tippett’s injury.

    The reference to the seven years was based on when the Club was founded. As you will of course know, In April 2010, they played their first TAC Cup match, and the following year they received the first eight picks in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft, which included the likes of Tomas Bugg, Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel and Adam Treloar. These guys, along with other picks played in the GWS NEAFL side, in preparation for their 2012 time in the big league. So, I was seeing the overall picture since inception.

    I don’t deny your comment about history. I did say: “This is a new beginning in the Giants’ history.”

    Your mention of West Coast, Adelaide and Port Adelaide and their finals cannot really be compared to the Giants’ finals campaigns. The former all came from States with a long history and experience in Australian football, and their Grand Finals wins reflected this. No, there is no qualifying period. However, my reference to privilege in that respect is that the Giants supporters have had a very short period of being the “whipping boys”, compared to most other clubs over decades and decades. In that sense, you are privileged.

    And keep in mind, that Gold Coast has been decimated by injuries last year and this.

    Great that your players posed with the supporters for autographs and photos on Sunday. All Clubs’ players do that.

  10. Jan – embrace the rivalry! Learn to love it. Celebrate the agony of the defeat because it will make the inevitable future victory even sweeter! Don’t be devastated. Steel yourself. Devastation is only fit for hopelessness. But the Swans have hope.

    One of the great things about the Hawthorn v Geelong rivalry is the respect that has built up between the clubs. The Giants won this battle, but they will respect the effort required to beat the Bloods in the next one.

  11. I agree with some of Jans points no re Mumford it was not a sling tackle and definitely no case to answer and I thought that was pretty obvious.The Afl have created a super power with way over the top draft concessions hell there were that many not even Richmond would have been able to stuff them all up
    While the Gold Coast confessions were not as good as GWS they placed way to much emphasis on Ablett.
    It is a article with plenty to debate about thanks Jan

  12. Talk amongst the VFL/AFL to nationalise Aussie Rules,versus the old model of the country’s best talent being lured to Victoria each year, was happening at least 50 years ago. The Swans,nee South Melbourne,took the plunge and moved north of the Murray,a brave pioneering adventure indeed. The VFL was keen to broker this outcome,but their enthusiasm was never matched by adequate financial assistance or sound business management structures. After a failed foray into private ownership,struggling on and off the field for more than 20 years,being virtually bankrupt at least twice in that period,the Swans have gained universal respect through hard work and good management,are financially viable and boast a record membership base. Their record on field the last 2 decades speaks for itself. Tha AFL did not want to repeat the mistakes made in their original nonAFL state experiment by throwing GWS in cold,and justifiably. They have poured huge resources into Gold Coast and GWS. Gold Coast have been decimated by injuries,much to their detriment on and off field. The Giants have very successfully chartered their course through foreign waters,to date. The essential difference is they have done so in a cruise ship,the Swans had to make do with a dinghy. I hope,for the sake of our great game,GWS are there to stay,not least to enjoy the Swans GWS rivalry that’s already taken root. Their upbringing may not have been priveleged,but the Giants should be very grateful the Swans were the guinea pigs in the AFLs northern experiment.

  13. Thanks Dips and Malcolm

    Dips: If we could all achieve a balance between the intellectual and the emotional understanding and responses in times of ups and downs, then the world would be a better and happier place – or it would for me anyway! Still working on it!

    Interesting comment about Richmond, Rulebook! The Suns have been decimated by injuries in recent times, hence not much success for them, but it will come. It needs to, if footy north of Victoria and indeed Sydney is to not only survive, but thrive.

  14. Can I just say (and this is probably off topic) but if you look at what the Gold Coast have done with their club as opposed to ours, you can see a really stark difference. Both clubs have had 10-12 retirements – but the Gold Coast have delisted over 30 players and traded only 4 or 5 while we’ve only delisted a dozen and traded over 20. We’ve gotten something back for the players who can’t find a spot at our club, the Coast haven’t.

    Throw in the ‘name’ players we’ve brought in – Mummy, Shaw, Patfull, Griffen etc. – versus Malceski and ????

    It’s not just injuries that are the reason the Coast are not competing and we are.

  15. Thanks for your comment Tony.

    Very well said!

    I still like the word privileged!

  16. Yes Jan, a bitter disappointment, both at the loss itself and the manner thereof, our usually hard-at-it midfield having a bit of an off day. And I must agree, we don’t seem to do well with after a bye – silly, knee-jerk response from the AFL in my view.

    I can’t feel too hostile towards the Giants because I think that in the short term it has been good for the game in Sydney and will be even better over time. I share Kath’s view of the careful way they have picked and kept together the (on paper at least) most sheerly talented team in the competition, and would congratulate their management. My one reservation is that the concessions may have gone a bit too far, and I’m surprised that the Giants have privileged access to clubs in the Murray region. And I’m not happy about a certain player who I will think of, at least for the next week or so, as “Mad Dog”.

    How to handle the loss and frustration? I was in the right place at The Riser – fellow Swans to commiserate with, point out the umps’ shortcomings! (except for Razor Ray, who I think has become a very good umpire), and speculate on the immediate future. But the clincher was having dinner after the game. I’ve always liked pub grub and having downed a pint and demolished the fish and chips I realised that one of the best remedies for a loss is Comfort Food – with capitals! We’ll be there again this Saturday.

    And go the Bloods!

  17. Thanks Don

    I’m afraid Comfort Food doesn’t work for me. I’m the opposite, I just don’t feel like eating at all after a loss!
    And I’m absolutely no company for anyone, albeit fellow supporters – I’m too upset to even talk! Bit of a hopeless case, I’m afraid!

    I’m hoping that we’ll all be smiling this Saturday night.

    Cheer cheer

  18. Keiran Croker says

    Here’s hoping for a sunny Sunday Jan, in a footy sense.
    Following on from others comments I think GWS has managed it’s list and picks/trades perfectly. They did get more picks than the Suns, who have made a lot of mistakes along with seriously bad luck with injuries.
    I think I will grow to hate the Giants … In a healthy rivalry type way! We might have the chance to have a crack at them again this year hopefully!

  19. Thanks Keiran

    Enjoy watching the game at the Riser. We’ll be in the O’Reilly, nervous as ever. Hell, I’m nervous even now – 17 hours before the game even starts!

    Actually I hope we don’t get a crack at them again. Want the Doggies to get through to the GF.

    Cheer cheer

  20. Okay, it’s time for me to stop sooking (twice in one weekend…and they say a weeks a long time in politics!) and start looking forward to tonight’s game. We are far better than what we showed against GWS – but they need to show it! Cheer, cheer Jan

  21. Indeed, Ross!! We CAN show it – have done so all year – so in approximately five hours from now we’ll be walking over to the ground to cheer our lungs out for our beloved bloods.


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