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Finals Week 2 – Sydney v North Melbourne Preview: There are ways


Semi-Final – Sydney Swans v North Melbourne Kangaroos

Saturday 19th September



I dropped my phone on our tiled bathroom floor last Thursday when I read the team list for Saturday’s qualifying final. I got what my ten year old described as ‘a corner’. They’re the worst apparently; one knock and the screen splits into a butterfly wing. I called Apple. No, they don’t replace iPhone 4 screens. Yes, I’d have to replace the whole handset. Yes, it would be upwards of $200. They suggested an upgrade and a whole new plan.


But I found out on Monday that there are people who can fix these things for well short of two green bills. There are people who think a broken phone screen is not terminal, just one component part that needs replacing.


The Swans’ ability to go on Saturday afternoon was seriously gratifying. How on earth do they approach repeated contests of finals intensity … over two hours? Where do they find reserve and composure and will? How do they hold doubt at bay and reinvest again and again? With our four finals debutants mustered by old heads, they looked capable, likely even. The regret came only in the kicking, the should-haves could-haves of missed shots. And the shotgun that struck S.Reid. With Reid gone and the onion peeling further and further away to reveal what looked a lonely core in our forward line, the players stepped in and up to clinch an almost-win. Now they must go again.


These people who fix phones, they work out of a colonised ex-convenience store on the Glebe end of Broadway, a door with a Word doc sign taped to the inside. An easy push and a small corridor leads to a tall young guy booting up a laptop, a smile and a ‘what can we do?’


It’s a place where the patching has just dried on the walls but the paint’s yet to go on. There’s a box on the floor texta marked with ‘Bad S*#t Screens’, a single fluoro overhead. There’s a bike parked up against a large work table, the wall in front of it mounted in mismatched plastic storage totes, filled with screens and screws for every possible version of phone and pod. It’s part grandpa’s shed, part twenty-something boy’s share-house room. And it smacks of relaxed inventiveness. My six foot saviour grabs a name and email and tells me to come back in 40 minutes. As I leave, I notice how they’ve managed to keep the door to the street unlocked. They’ve rigged it with a thick elastic band, looped around the pull-down handle and attached to the older fixed handle below.


These kids know how to go about it, how to get results with minimum fuss. They have nous. They don’t need the fancy overheads of a slick veneer motherstore with its sheen and flash, they don’t need the well-rested, well-preserved display models and the inner architecture of a franchise mentality, where things always have to look the same. They know that some tasks don’t need a whole new plan; they just require a patch job done with lots of skill and attention.


There’s a freewheeling buzz around this weekend’s game. It’s reminding me a little of the unlikely Cortinas. Despite the pre-existing condition and the subsequent fallout from Saturday’s final in Perth, there are a fair few Swans faithful who have an inkling that, against all the odds, our missing component parts might just be replaceable this Saturday night and the machine might work just fine.


Cause there’s still some constancy on the park. There’s a guy called Kennedy who’s looking for his twelfth consecutive 30+ disposal game. There’s a guy named Rampe on the club games streak of 70 in a row, and one called Smith expected to jog alongside him. There are the muppets in Reg and Teddy. There are Rohan and McGlynn who owe the energy and standard of a big stage game. There’s a Champ named Goodes, playing his club record 28th final. And there’s a crèche of kids with plenty of nerve. B.Jack, Jones, Heeney, Towers and Mitchell might have only 108 games between the five of them—not even a third of the Champ’s 371 individual games—but they have speed and leaps, sure hands and cool heads. And they play with a proximity to childhood dreams that assumes they will come true, with the optimism of starting out, of tying the door open and getting on with the job at hand.


The last meeting between Sydney and North Melbourne was in Round 11 this year at Etihad, where the red and white prevailed by 16 points. Parker had 33 touches, Franklin kicked four goals. But a longer backwards glance shows that the Swans have won their last nine out of ten encounters with the Roos. And according to statistics, the disposal-inclined have been Hannebery, Kennedy, Mitchell and McVeigh. They’re all there this Saturday!


And if that’s not enough, last year on Friday the 19th of September, we beat North Melbourne by 71 points in a preliminary final at Homebush. It’s a semi-final this week, but it’s still the 19th of September. And the 19th of September is my birthday, Swannies. I can think of something I’d like.




About Mathilde de Hauteclocque

Swans member since 2000, Mathilde likes to wile away her winters in the O'Reilly stand with 'the boys', flicking through the Record and waiting to see the half backs drive an explosive forward movement. She lives in Sydney and raises a thirteen year old Cygnet.


  1. Get a flip phone Old Mate.

    Bit like Kennedy et al. Indestructible.

    Happy birthday.

  2. Happy birthday Mathilde.
    May you and yours enjoy yourselves and each other.

    Love the workshop analogy.
    And imagery.

    There usually is a way.

  3. Keiran Croker says

    Happy birthday Mathilde! Go Bloods!!!!!!

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Happy birthday Mathilde

    I had one part on my phone break inside the warranty period, but after sending it away, the manufacturer declined, saying that it was my fault, but they’d fix it for $400

    Found a place tucked away up high in an old building in Swanston St, said they’d fix it for $60. They did, but I nervously realised that they probably could have accessed anything on my phone as well.

    A delicate balance. At least you’ll find out tonight, I’ll never know.

  5. Adam Goodes first name could easily be Exceptionally.

    Saddened by his retirement and the behavior of boneheaded spectators towards him.

    Gladdened by my memories of his sublime and athletic style of football.

    A true great.

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Cheer cheer P. Flynn.
    Sad. Right time. But sad.

    Thanks for birthday wishes all. It wasn’t a bad day. Even the result wasn’t quite as ‘stopping’ as the thing that came after. Swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts. But I just need to sit fallen in the dirt a while.

  7. Mathilde,
    I like the metaphor – broken screen, broken forward line.
    It was a good game, from a North Melbourne point of view.
    I was very pleased.
    You share the same birthday as a mate of mine too…

  8. I’ve only read this piece after the fact, Mathilde. Your tone was positive but slightly tinged with dread perhaps? Were you grasping at positives and beating back the dark thoughts?

    Anyway, happy birthday for last week, and commiserations for the Swans. They looked shot; mentally and physically. I’m a firm believer that most finals are won by the team best prepared.

    The phone repair shop description could have been my office!

  9. From a North point of view it is amusing to me how they continually make sports presenters look stupid.
    Here is a selection of the wisdom heard lately.. Gerard Whately.. “Seven of the eight can win the flag.. only North Melbourne cannot”. That’s funny Gerard, only four left and North is one..
    Adam White on the eve of the finals, ” I think Richmond are going to explode against North”. He’s right really, they exploded into oblivion courtesy of North. Paul Roos and Mark Maclure, “Always the top four will prevail as usual”. They have not, Sydney is deceased this year, North still alive.
    Tadgh Kennelly, ” I think North have a soft underbelly and Sydney will expose it.” Sorry Tadgh, your team is now on holidays and I saw no evidence of a soft underbelly in North, only in Sydney.
    Stay tuned for the next instalment of ‘North are useless’ and watch it overturned. Sports broadcasters reputations are in tatters and I am still smiling..Bring on the negativity chaps…

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