Grand Final Eve

I just watched the Rioli v Jetta video that’s up on, and nerves finally gave way to excitement. So on Grand Final eve, I’m breaking my silence. Somehow I thought an uncharacteristic reserve would keep all things at bay, the expectation and the doubt in equal measure. But watching those two – Rioli and Jetta – at work, I suspect that this one last sleep might be easier to bear if some burst of steam is let off.

I got a text from fellow Blood James this morning: ‘Has this week been the longest in living memory?’ Pathologically equanimous, he was the least likely candidate among us for such sentiment. But it’s how we’ve all been feeling. 2005, we were innocent. 2006, we were lulled into thinking that Grand Finals come around every year – no big deal. But 2012? This week has been interminable and unbearable. No matter what I have tried this week to combat the nerves, I haven’t found the right state to rest in. Confidence feels presumptuous but underdog’s not right. Media doesn’t assuage but silence doesn’t sate.

It’s a kind of madness when your team’s in the Grand Final. A week of internal distractions and surreptitious footy shamanism. Was it just a messy change room that had Goodesy wearing the # 13 at training on Tuesday? Since last Friday night, I’ve been quietly wearing my Swans earrings, pegging out the washing in rigorous red and white, curating meals in the same hues. The menu for the GF breakfast so far: sausages with tomato sauce on white rolls; bocconcini and tomato; strawberries and cream; croissants with ricotta and raspberry jam. I go to bed thinking of Kennedy. Has he got two more hours of battering ram in him? I dream at night of an empty forward 50 and Jetta running into it. I wake up thinking of Burgoyne.

The O’Reilly boys are experiencing similar difficulties. Max has the misfortune (or fortune) of being tied into a Saturday afternoon birthday party for his daughter, a screening of Madagascar 3 with a posse of 9 year old girls! He’s imposed a full media embargo until after dark. James is in far northern NSW, sweating about the Swans getting too much press, trying to decide whether Morton or Parker should be the sub, imagining worst case scenarios – a goalless first term, a first clearance concussion to Kennedy – relying on the fact that because life is invariably unpredictable, these things are unlikely to happen. Under the same rule, he refuses to conjure the great. Toby is glad that his line of work means he has a 46 inch screen to watch it on. The Cygnet’s choosing red and white roses for his mum and red and white straws for his smoothies. Even a school Dad mate (and one-eyed Cats supporter) sent word this morning: ‘I feel more tense that I did last year – I’m on the band wagon!’

I’d love to embody the philosophical position that as long as it’s a good game, footy will be the winner on the day, no matter which shoulders are wearing the medals. I’d love to live with the spirit that as long as the boys do the jumper proud, we’ll all have no regrets. I don’t want to believe in the sports science talk that we can only control the things we can control. Profound partiality means that I hope like hell we win.

The altar of Swans is assembled. For Burgoyne I prescribe Bird. For Kennedy’s concussion I advise the Kirk/Bolton helmet and a strong mint. I’ve asked the Cygnet and Dad to vote Jetta on facebook. The Moët is in the fridge.

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. Pamela Sherpa says

    Good luck Mathilde, try to enjoy the game. It’s snowing here in my part of NSW so maybe a bit of white falling from the sky means good luck for the Swans. There are also red coals glowing in the fire.

  2. Mathilde – its not JUST a game is it. Its way more than that. Ride every bump, protest every decision against the Swans, and yell till the end.

    Good luck Swannies. I reckon they can do it.

    Pamela’s red and white omens (see above) could be spot on.

  3. Brilliant piece Mathilde. I know my dad will have been going through the same.

    And you will be forgiven if you do not “embody the philosophical position that as long as it’s a good game, footy will be the winner on the day.” That sentiment is fine for home and away games but come GFs, a good game is one you win.

    I hope for you and my dad, it’s a “good game”.

    Go Swannies!!

  4. craig dodson says

    Hope the Moet went down well, a brilliant year for the red and white.. We are fortunate to be Swans supporters

  5. Peter Schumacher says

    I really enjoyed reading your post, loved the “I dream at night of an empty forward 50 and Jetta running into it. I wake up thinking of Burgoyne”. This captured the mood of a footy fanatic perfectly.

Leave a Comment