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Finals Week 1 – Sydney v GWS: Preview


In the depths of my wardrobe I have an old Swans jumper. It is early 1990s vintage. It is an old fashioned wool footy jumper that weighed the metric tonne when wet and would itch like blazes on a hot day. The jumper has seen better days. The Opera House is hanging like a thread and in urgent need of restitching. The Whirlpool has sucked the life out of the once vibrant red colours. My old friend may be past its best, yet it is still standing its ground. I love that jumper. It is not going to the Salvos anytime soon.


Seeing the jumper the other day made me stop and reflect about just how far the Swans have come in a few decades, and how lucky we are as supporters. The early 1990s were not a fond time for the Swans. Beltings on the park went hand in hand with financial dramas in the Boardroom. It now seems inconceivable that the Club endured a 26 game losing streak and three successive wooden spoons from 1992-1994. The early 1990s were about survival.


It is not a stretch to say that the Club would have gone under if not for the efforts of some very resilient people. In the midst of the darkness on field I think of a young Paul Kelly throwing his body and mullet into packs, Mark Bayes wearing long sleeves and kicking with the precision of a surgeon and Jamie Lawson making men three times his size look silly with his pace and dare.


Off the field it was Mike Willessee, Basil Sellers and many passionate others reaching deep into their pockets to keep the wolves at bay. The Club found a way to grit its teeth and survive.


As an impressionable young teenager I didn’t quite stay the course and was seduced by the Balmain Tigers in the Rugby League for a few years. I watched from afar, without hope, effectively abandoning ship when all appeared lost.

Slowly the tide, and my commitment, began to turn as agents of change where brought in. Barassi came and gave the Club credibility and Plugga and Roosey followed to provide star power and the experience to guide impressionable youth. Richard Colless took the reins in the Boardroom. There was now a way forward. The club rose like a Phoenix and made the 1996 Grand Final.


Over the last 20 years the Club has transformed itself into a well-oiled machine that marks September action into the diary with a permanent marker. As Swans supporters we are on a very good wicket. Close your eyes for a second and imagine being a Richmond supporter. I dare you! As we roll into another finals campaign we should be forever thankful to those that fought to ensure we have a Club to follow today.


Season 2016 has seen the emergence of a talented and bold group of Cygnet’s. Callum Mills combines raw courage with an astute ability to read the flight of the ball. Aliir Aliir flies into the air with spring, energy and a sure set of hands. Our midfield is drooling about the silver service the big man from Gunnedah, Sam Naismith, provides out of the Ruck. Our little forward pocket Plumber Tom Papley (grandson of ex South Melbourne star Max Papley) is hungrier than Kevin Bartlett ever was for a goal and tackles with intent. George Hewett is a good operator in heavy traffic and Xavier Richards has blossomed since they started letting him kick for goals, rather than go the spoil. How this group holds up under the spotlight of September will, for a large part, determine how far we go I think.


The Giants made a mess of us the last time we met and will provide a stern test on Saturday. There will be many intriguing battles within the game. I still hate seeing Mummy in Orange, yet it’s almost worth it to see the way Kieren Jack rips into him. Watch closely on Saturday and I bet you that as soon as Mummy lays a big hit, our little terrier will come charging in to fly the flag. He doesn’t seem to mind that he is giving away 30Kgs! Nick Smith will have his hands full dealing with the bravado of Toby Greene and I hope Dane Rampe’s ridiculous moustache doesn’t itch in the warmer September weather, as his full concentration will be needed to combat Stevie J.


Buddy and Luke Parker will be jumping out of their skins, having missed our September campaign last year and if they fire it will be hard to see us getting beat.


10 years ago it would have been unthinkable to suggest two NSW teams would be playing a final in front of 60,000 people in Western Sydney. Saturday will certainly carry a sense of occasion about it.


I’ll be watching from Dodson HQ in Melbourne. The AFL scheduling department hasn’t done me any favours with the 3.20pm start. At that time of the day the young scallywags (Jack 4, Harry 2) will be in full swing and won’t be too fussed about whether Coach Longmire is playing Buddy deep or up on the wing. Poor old Mrs D will need to give me a chop out and I suspect those portable DVD players we recently bought will get a flogging. I promise to try valiantly not to introduce the scallywags to any new four letter words, although I suspect I will ultimately be unsuccessful if the game is tight.


September is here and the Swans are fit, firing and about to launch another attempt at the Premiership Cup. Those brash young upstarts at the GWS Giants stand in our way. This is a turf war. I’m going to dive into the wardrobe, pull out my trusty old jumper, wear it with pride and thank my lucky stars that decades ago many good people fought the good fight to keep our Club above water. Bring on September.

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.


  1. Earl O'Neill says

    Local derby hits new heights. I’ve got an 80s Swans jumper w long sleeves and a reproduction South jumper but I’ll be wearing an orange t-shirt Saturday. Damn, better get home from work in time!

  2. Bring on September, indeed, Craig.
    This is where it starts.

    Rgds, envious, Abbotsford.

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