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Finals Week 2 – Sydney v Adelaide: The Bloodstained Angels kept their promise, mental and physical pressure win the day

SYDvADE

The crowd was on. The Swans were on. Their physical pressure, sorely missing against the Giants last week, was absolutely on. It was a sight to behold.

The seven goal start was just what any nervous Bloodstained Angel needed. Desperately needed, in fact. The promise from the leaders throughout the week was carried out almost to perfection. There was absolutely no way the Blood Brothers were going to repeat last week’s insipid performance for a second consecutive week. That is not what these Brothers do. That is not what Minor Premiers do.

All week, leading up to the game, the fluctuating emotions that follow a bad loss kept rearing their not-so-glorious heads: moments of sadness, moments of doubt, moments that could indeed be called depression – or a form of it – and then moments of acceptance and reality. These latter moments became the norm by about Thursday and were enhanced and strengthened by bringing the Swans’ 2005 finals experience back to the fore.

There were other moments too that put the reality into perspective. Reality usually works that way, if we accept it. The Sydney newspapers rarely talk of other teams, apart from the one page (or sometimes less) devoted to the Swans and Giants. We’d not read anything about the man-of-the-moment Eddie and his glorious feats on the footy field. We knew nothing of his life before footy. So, reading the Age article of his struggles with alcoholism and family violence gave me another focus in the lead up to the game against Adelaide. It triggered memories of the past and of those whose lives are affected by drugs, alcohol and violence. His story gave hope.

And, then I kept going back to the footy and to 2005: that great year, when we lost the first week’s qualifying final on a Friday night away from our home ground; when we won the second week’s semi final on our home turf on a Friday night; and, when we won the preliminary final at the MCG the following Friday night. Of course the memory of that glorious 24th of September day raised my spirits and held me in good stead until arriving at the SCG for this semi final.

So far this year the only difference has been that our two finals games have been on a Saturday and not a Friday night. This week’s prelim will be on a Friday too. Which raises a moot point. Why, pray tell me, does one prelim team get an 8-day rest and the other a 6-day? Why not both a 7-day break? We get the 6-day variety and just have to accept it. At least we’re there and playing off for another crack at the big one.

After such a wonderful first quarter and a lead of 25 points, there was always going to be doubt in some minds as to whether the high flying physical Bloods could continue in the same vein. Adelaide responded early in the second with the first goal and the pressure from both teams had lifted considerably. The crunching tackles and ferocious attack on the ball inevitably led to injuries: Macca and Gazza for us and Talia and Lever for them. Injuries can be cruelly debilitating for finals’ teams and we now have four of our top players struggling to play next week; five if you add Zac Jones who suffered a bad concussion in the reserves just seven days ago.

By half time we had added a further 3.2 to our score, and kept Adelaide to just that one goal. The mostly red and white crowd were joyous, none looking anxious or in any doubt about the next two quarters. I was joyous, becoming a little hoarse at that stage, but, as ever, still nervous.

My anxiety levels in the third quarter were raised early on, when Eddie kicked his first goal, then another came from McGovern a minute later. The Crows were now taking their game to a different level and with two further goals – one from a shocking decision from the ump against Nick Smith to Eddie – and just two goals for the quarter from our guys, one each to Buddy and Paps, the third quarter break seemed a welcome relief for all.

We’re still four goals up, and all I want is for us to repeat our first quarter performance. My hoarseness hasn’t worsened but I’m hoping it will in the last quarter. I want much chanting of Sydneeey Sydneeey after each and every wonderful goal. I want to lose my voice altogether!

My wish comes true! Our intense pressure returns, our slick ball movement is as good as its been, and our defensive intercepts, smothers and repelling of their forward entries are having the desired effect.

Benny is playing one of his better games and after being flattened with a high elbow to the head from Jacobs (surely this will be taken further!) he kicks his 3rd goal for the match and the Sydneeey chant rings around the SCG again. The crowd has certainly been on today. Not as loud as in 2005 against Geelong in the Nick Davis victory, but loud and supportive, as it should be. Paps gets his fourth – what a great little terrier he is – and Hanners follows with another. I’m trying desperately to get something from the voice box but all it wants to do is squeak. When our wonderful young Isaac marks between two Crows and goals, he caps off his best game in his short two-year career, and the crowd goes wild. He is an absolute beauty!

We’re up 49 points, with at least 10 minutes to go, and then the opposition manages three quick goals in as many minutes. This can’t be happening! Surely they can’t come back, with the clock on 24 minutes? My heart is racing and I’m feeling as buggered as our players are looking. Joey even staggers at one point, after his umpteenth possession and tackle. What a game he’s played! When Tommy Mitchell snaps truly from 20 metres, I jump from my seat for the 18th time, wave my flag with as much aggression as I can muster, and burst into happy and relieved tears! How else does the tension get released?

The chant continues around the ground, the siren sounds and I’m trying desperately – instinctively – to sing Cheer Cheer. Nothing happens. I’m just mouthing the words with wide enunciated movements, but the 35,000 others are making up for my lack of the sung word. I’m hoarse, but I’m happy!

By the time I hop into SWANZ and head for Melbourne in a few days time, I’ll be back to normal and ready to Cheer Cheer and chant all over again, to my heart’s content, in our quest for the holy grail!

My highlights from the game:

The entire team effort especially from: Joey, Buddy, Hanners, Parkesy, Heens, Smithy, Paps and Tommy

How can I leave anyone out?

Go the Mighty Bloods!

ps I love the guernseys used on the site, and Home page. Who drew them?

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. www.myswansloveaffair.com

Comments

  1. Keiran Croker says:

    Hope the voice has returned Jan. I watched from the Riser in South Melbourne. Now that is an experience. Much pent up anxiety being released into a room of red and white!!

    Great performances from Joey, Smithy & Heens in particular!

    Go Bloods! Just about to get online for my ticket to the G on Friday.

  2. Thanks Jan, a bruising encounter, good to get a finals win under the belt after the past four attempts.

    The guernseys are the creation of E Regnans.

  3. jan courtin says:

    You know, Keiran, I’ve never been to the Riser! Heard lots about it, but not living in Melbourne and being able to go to all the games, I’ve never needed to visit to watch a game. When I get down later this week, I’ll pop along just to take a look. Hope you got your tickets without too much fuss from that “stuff up” Ticketek!

    Thanks Dave. Hope your omens are spot on!

    Please pass on compliments to E. Regnans – love the guernseys.

    Cheer cheer

  4. Julie Cattlin says:

    Yes, I really like the drawings too.
    Another great story, Jan.
    Best wishes to all you Swans supporters for Friday night. I hope you win by lots and lots – just don’t know how all your hearts withstand the tension of a close game!!!
    Julie xx

  5. Really enjoyed the game on Saturday night Jan – although it helps when you kick 7 in the 1st quarter. Terrific article on The Age website by Roy Masters regarding GWS’s place in the sporting landscape. Cheer, cheer. Ross

  6. If you do get down to The Rising Sun Jan, have a look at the Treverton family contribution to the memorabilia collection. The oldest known team photograph of the SMFC was donated to the club after my father passed away, and l understand the original now hangs in the Sydney boardroom.

  7. jan courtin says:

    Thanks Julie. Well, my heart, at least, has survived all the years of tension, and hope ti does for a few more yet!

    Thanks Ross
    I certainly will check out your family’s contribution to the memorabilia collection. And thanks for the Age article. I’ll have a read tonight.

    Cheer Cheer

  8. jan courtin says:

    Ross:

    Here, here to the Roy Masters article. It appeared in the Sydney papers today.

    Yes, as I said previously, the Giants are a team that belong to the AFL, and as Roy said, not Sydney.

    Their supporters won’t like it!

    Cheer cheer

  9. jan courtin says:

    Should have been”hear, hear” !

  10. rainbow dancer says:

    hey Jan another entertaining swannies/Jan story once again. i can feel the playes as they fight and kick and smother and run and push and grunt and jump for utter joy through your telling of the game!!!! go Jan go the mighty blood brotheres and all us sisters cheering these awesome dudes!!! ??????????

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