Heart-stopping Swans

by Tom Bally

The Sydney Swans are trying to kill me.

There’s no other explanation for the last four weeks, a feverish run of breath stoppers and general all out frenzies of matches.  A desperate hold out from an Eagles attack was followed by three soaking hours watching Geelong overrun us.  To be fair my spell in the rain was partly my fault for misreading the bay number when booking but then again the SCG have rather sneakily changed the seat banding.  Follow that up with a wrenching fadeout against the Blues last week and my blood pressure has increased to dangerous levels.  This club does not have my best interests at heart and it was time for outside help.

But when the doctor found out I was a Swans supporter he threw me a sly despairing look and hustled me out of his surgery.  If you insist on following the Red and the White then nothing in medical science will save you, he warned me from the doorway of his practice.  Short of permanently residing in a decompression chamber you’re doomed.  I hurried away cursing the cheap quack.  No doubt a Collingwood supporter I thought and therefore not to be trusted.

Saturday dawned warm and sunny.  I’d sufficiently recovered from a head cold and the nerves felt steady enough to watch the Boys line up against The Enemy down at Canberra on the TV.  I’d even forgotten about the crushing five point loss in the finals last year until the commentator mentioned it before the bounce.  It didn’t faze me.  The Enemy were lacking Hall and Lake and I figured we’d quickly assert ourselves and win comfortably.  Jack was out but Kennelly was back and if anyone could inspire the boys it was him.

Ten minutes later I was slumped over groaning at the scoreboard.  Three quick goals to The Enemy resulted in a panicked Google search for the biggest losing margin ever in AFL/VFL history.  190 points when Fitzroy smashed Melbourne out of the park back in 1979.  Was this historic rout about to be repeated?  Certainly The Enemy were up and about, finding targets with ease, while the Swans copped every rotten bounce of the pill and repeating their ‘let’s handball it to the opposition’ style of play that causes so many of our moods to darken.  It was like wading out at Bondi only to plunge into the Mariana Trench two meters offshore.

Then towards the end of the first the momentum shifted.  Everitt took a great mark and scored.  O’Keefe put another six on the board.  Our clearance rate improved and both Mumford and Pyke were going forward to present big targets.  Reid tried a desperate spin kick, despite their being other options, but only managed a behind.  With clock running down Pyke banged in a huge goal and at the first break The Enemy were only 4 points ahead at the siren.  Things were looking decidedly more upbeat.

The sight of Rodney Eade spraying his troops before the siren provided hope.  Were they losing control?  The Swans increased their work rate.  A smart decision from Everitt to let the ball go won him a free and a goal.
Bolton was getting majorly involved.  The main thing that looked set to do us in however was the inability to take marks and to convert those growing number of opportunities.  Goodes, McVeigh and Mummy couldn’t hold onto the ball.  New kid Nipper Gordon had a crack but missed out on his first professional goal.  Goodes seemed unsure of his options at one point and then ran out of them.  The Enemy kept within sniffing distance and at half time it was 36 to 31 our way.  We should have been four goals clear.

Take marks and stop kicking into contests were my words of advice at the start of the third.  True to form they were foolishly ignored.  The Enemy got a behind.  Mattner took a hard tackle and there was talk of him being off for the game.  Luckily he was just a bit dazed and soon recovered.
Goodes managed a goal but it seemed all we were able to score from there on in were one pointers.  Bolton hesitated, lost the ball and started a passage of play resulting in an Enemy goal.  McVeigh stepped up as captain to score.  There was a great bit of play; Richards getting a lucky bounce handballing to Jetta who bombed it long to McVeigh.  He lost it but won it
back and passed it to O’Keefe who goaled.   Pyke soccered one in; I may
have to revise my thoughts about scoring that way.  Mumford spilled a mark near the end ruining a golden opportunity.  But we ended the third ahead by a more comfortable margin, 65-39.

The Enemy muscled their way back into it in the forth with a couple of goals.  Not again I screamed.  The Swans gathered their composure and got it back into The Enemy fifty.  Jetta to Everitt, his attempt smothered.
Then Nipper slid in to score!  The Enemy practically ran around the team and in for a goal.  Goodes was pinged for attempting to go in to tackle.
The Enemy scored again.  Thank God for Richards and Grundy in defence.  LRT is going to have his work cut out for him getting back into the side.  The Swans got it back uptown and O’Keefe took a great pack mark, very reminiscent of THAT 2005 match winner.  His behind barely mattered, running the clock down was the focus here.  Jetta tried on some of his famous speed, paddling the ball furiously to keep it in play.  Maybe the moustache
should go though.   Richards took a great save at the end and we were home
by the skin of our teeth and a tangle of defibrillator wires.

It’s always great when the Swans win but just for once can they get one without taking me one step closer to the great beyond?


  1. david butler says

    Tom, I was behind the sticks at Manuka and that first Ryan O’Keefe goal you mention hit a lady from the Swans supporters group above the eyebrow. Plenty of claret and a big egg for the poor old dear. I also felt that we would beat the Dogs with Bazza and Harris/Lake out, but I thought it would be close. After the first three goals I was as concerned as you.

  2. mathilde de hauteclocque says

    I sympathise Tom. My father-in-law (a happy, uninvolved Bombers supporter) called me after the game on Saturday to see if I had made it. He’s calling any Swans final quarter ‘the coronary quarter’.

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