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Finals Week 2 – Sydney v North Melbourne: Struggle


Adam Goodes is a champion… 372 games, 464 goals, two premierships, dual Brownlow Medalist, four time All-Australian, three time Bob Skilton Medalist tells the pure statistics of an outstanding career. A magnificent athlete with skills to match he played forward, back, ruck and on ball over 18 seasons with the Swans. For me he has been our most watchable player over this time …. dynamic and explosive. A sublime footballer he has provided a truckload of brilliant footy memories.


It’s half-time and I’ve been watching the semi-final against North at a local club in Melbourne. Goodesy has been prominent with an early goal and 15 touches running through the mid-field defying Father Time. Though, at 16 points down, I am contemplating having to write an obituary for the season. North are blanketing our prolific mid-fielders who are missing the support of the injured Parks and Kizza. Our young forwards Heeney and Rose are providing some spark, though we are lacking the mature big targets with Buddy and Reidy out.

After the main break Horse has made some changes, which in itself is notable as he tends to leave players in defined roles. Gazza has gone back and Ramps has moved on ball in a run-with role. Perhaps this is a portent of the roles they may play in the future. We are up and about playing with the heart you expect from the Bloods. Tippo, who has been manful carrying the ruck and providing a lone target up forward, slots a magnificent set-shot goal from the boundary on the 50 metre line. Then after a snaking Gazza run off half back the ball lands in Joey’s hands and he goals from 50 metres on the run. We are back within a goal.

Over the next 15 minutes we dominate, entering the forward 50 repeatedly. Joey, Ramps and Tommy Mitchell in particular have lifted their output though we can’t convert up forward. It’s a replica of last week’s game in the west against the Dockers, plenty of effort, courage and grit, though a lack of composure around goals. North absorbs the pressure and manages to get two goals back on the break somewhat against the run of play. We are back to 13 points down at the last break and it feels like perhaps we have given it our best shot.

Into the final term we get an early break and Tippo gets his big body to the front to take a strong mark 30 metres out at half forward. He converts, we are still fighting. We push and push, though North responds. Despite our best efforts, North has more run and composure in the end and late goals put the game out of reach.

Goodesy, though quieter in the second half, is still running and presenting up forward, and he is rewarded with a set shot from 40 out in front. He rewards his loyal supporters with perhaps his last goal in footy.

Rhys Shaw is chaired off having announced his pending retirement about a month ago. Rhysy has been a magnificent servant of our club. With boundless energy, running and bouncing off half-back. He says the Club has changed his life. It’s noteworthy that most recruits or injured players who spent time in the recovery dungeon have referenced Rhys as the most caring, encouraging and helpful of their team mates. A true clubman.

I debrief with a young Swans supporter in the lounge bar. While disappointed with the result and going out of the finals in straight sets we are both proud of the effort over the last two weeks. We gave it our best shot with less than our best team available. It’s been an odd year, despite making the top four we have not really looked cohesive in the second half of the year, nor a dangerous contender.

We move on to what we need, more support in the ruck and down back perhaps. The Academy boy, Callum Mills is rumoured to be a gun, better than Heeney, who has been a shining light in an otherwise relatively flat year. Maybe we will also get Andrew Dunkley’s boy Josh.

Hope and expectation. In the last twenty years we have competed in 17 finals campaigns and of course obtained the ultimate prize twice. Another preliminary final would have been a pass mark for me this year. It’s interesting how my expectations have risen over time. My hope is that we will be thereabouts again in 2016. I will look forward to Buddy’s return.


Goodesy has walked from the ground behind Shawry with no fanfare. Later in the rooms with his great mate Mickey O’Loughlin and brother Brett there for support he announces his retirement behind closed doors to his team mates. This is redolent of this man’s character. With Adam, it’s not about himself, it’s about the team, the club. And so it is with all his involvements outside of football, he offers his voice and actions in support of indigenous recognition, education and opportunity and the fight against racism and domestic violence. He is a man who seeks to be part of the solution. I look forward to following his life outside of footy. I am confident he will shine and it will be equally illustrious. Thanks for a wonderful career Adam.













About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.


  1. Well lauded K Croker.

    Very Sinatra by A Goodes.

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