Interesting question: are Sydney Swans and South Melbourne one and the same and do they have a shared history?



Glen, Ross Treverton and I have been communicating, via comments to my last week’s article, as to whether South Melbourne/Sydney Swans are one and the same – a shared history, since 1874.

Perhaps we need others’ thoughts and opinions. Do you have one on this, and other aspects Ross has alluded to?

Here is the conversation, taken from the comments:

Glen says:

March 31, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Yes Jan, young Tom Paley looked impressive. Totally different club to one his grandfather played for, though the colours are the same.

If he;s as good as Max he’ll be around for quite a while.


Jan Courtin says:

March 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Thanks for Comments Ross and Glen.

It’s more like a different era Glen, as opposed to a different Club. Colours the same and history going back to 1874: South Melbourne and Sydney Swans are one and the same, except of course the latter is now Sydney based.

So far, so good, Ross. Only time will tell!. Cheer Cheer

Glen says:

March 31, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Ta Jan,thanks for your reply.

I respect your sentiment though South Melbourne/Sydney, Fitzroy/Brisbane are never the same clubs. more so a case of the marketers stealing the history/legacy of a proud Victorian club, then foisting it on a new corporate creation which has no supporter base, existing solely the $$.

Hope the Swans do well in 2016, you’d need to do better than 2014 when they cost me a fortune !!!.

All the best,


Jan Courtin says:

March 31, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Thanks Glen
Only difference in South Melbourne and Fitzroy is that the South players were transported to Sydney as an entire existing team, whereas Fitzroy, as we knew it, died a sad death. Only some of their players played for the Brisbane Bears.

For me, and the many thousands of old South supporters and their now Swans-supporting children – and indeed some Sydney supporters – the Club’s history is still completely relevant today.

And, yes I agree with you that we need to do better than 2014 when it cost many people a fortune!! I didn’t lose financially, as I don’t bet, but all the red and white family lost terribly, emotionally!

Ross Treverton says:

March 31, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Glen, are the Western Bulldogs the same club given they are no longer Footscray and now play their home games at Etihad instead if the Western Oval? Do you discount North’s time as the renamed ‘Kangaroos’ and adjust their history during this time accordingly? In both cases, the answer is obvious. And yet there are still people who continue to offer up Sydney being ‘not the same club’ as South Melbourne. They relocated – obviously. But they kept their entire playing personnel, and until 1987, the same design jumpers (not on their own there…). Geelong is probably the only true example of an AFL club who you could transport from 2016 to 1966 and find them playing at the same ground and in the same design jumpers. If it’s good enough for the historians at the AFL to acknowledge the history of South Melbourne as part and parcel of that of the Sydney Swans, then it’s clearly good enough for for everyone else as well. Cheer, cheer!

Jan Courtin says:

March 31, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Hear! Hear! and Cheer Cheer Ross.
Well said.

Glen says:

April 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Without delving into the esoteric and repeating points ad nauseum i’m stultified how any club who played for nigh on a century in inner melbourne can be the same entity playing a thousand + K’s away. I’m not one to say who people should barack for,, that’s your call. I remember going to watch those two long gone Melbourne team s,on Saturday afternoons, and the only resemblance they have to these interstate sides is what the marketing people have constructed.

Ross, if the AFL historian chose to pretend these current teams have a link to those teams who no longer exist, good luck to them. If hey didn’t pay homage to these furphies they wouldn’t be working nay further for the AFL.

Now i’ll stop before i go any further. Have god weekend sad hope Sydney beat Carlton; as they should.


Ross Treverton says:

April 1, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Thanks Glen. Always good to hear from the 1per cent who can’t see what the other 99 per cent can!


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.


  1. Interesting discussion, I’m not sure it’s been raised too often regarding the Swans. Certainly a different case to the Fitzroy / Brisbane conundrum.

    What are the elements that define a club?

    And I also wonder whether US pro sport fans regard their relocated franchises as the same entity. e.g. LA Raiders / Oakland Raiders

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Glen, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. The connection is the people like Jan, Ross and myself. Like Jan I stood on the terraces at the Lakeside Oval and supported South through tick and thin. And I never for one second have stopped thinking of this team as mine. Likewise I sat out at Homebush, thank god that is done with, and at the SCG. This history is shared. Try putting your case to the 12,000 or so Melbourne based supporters. And if they were alive to my father and grandfather, I don’t think you’d get too far.

  3. Jim Johnson says

    Ross Treverton
    Could you contact me as there was a Treverton who played in the Ringwood Second 18 in early 1950. Herbie Mathews was Captain & Coach of the Ringwood First 18teen. Herbie Played for South Melbourne and coached them in 1954. Yes of course South Melbourne became the Sydney Swans. At sixteen years of age I was first rover in Herbie’s 1sr 18teen at Ringwood. I remember the only thing he taught me was that in the forward line while resting from roving i should always be in front of a flying pack so I would not have to turn after picking up the crumbs to have a shot at goal. I had missed a shot for goal because i had to turn to shoot at goal. The Treverton name is somehow involved in my family history. Thanks Jim Johnson

  4. Hi Jan,
    You have posed an interesting question, one which is very much an internal one. Do YOU believe there is a shared connection and history? If you do, then there is. And my opinion is not of relevance to yours. Because the connection is emotional, rather than logical. And your view does not need to be logical. To believe in the connection is sufficient. Go with it an glory in it.
    My opinion is different. i think that one team ended, and another began when the former entity was uprooted and replanted in foreign lands. South Melbourne won 3 premierships. They will win no more. Sydney has won three premierships and will win more. Sydney is closer to South Melbourne than Brisbane is to Fitzroy, but neither team is the same as it was when it was born in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.
    But I don’t support Sydney, and never supported South Melbourne. So I don’t have a dog in that particular fight.

  5. Ta Ken, your input is handy. It reflects my view of this dialogue.


  6. Ross Treverton says

    And my point about the Western Bulldogs and the ‘Kangaroos’ Glen? Unfortunately those examples don’t suit your argument and so you ignore them. And if it comes down to the distance that the relocation took place, then what is the distance where you stop being the same club and become a new entity? The AFL, the Sydney Swans and importantly, the vast majority of football supporters consider South and the Swans to be the same club. If you don’t, then l am certainly not going to lose any sleep over it. To quote Paul Roos at the 2005 Grand Final, “to all those South Melbourne/Sydney Swans supporters who’ve waited 72 years for a premiership, HERE IT IS”.

  7. Ross Treverton says

    Hi Jim,

    My father Roy, played with South Melbourne U19’s and seconds in the late 40’s and later in the VFA with Sandringham. The only other Treverton it could possibly be is my uncle, Lyall, although l knew him better as a good cricketer with Heatherton. I never heard anything about him as a footballer. There weren’t too many other Trevertons around during that era so l would interested to know who it was.
    Feel free to contact me at [email protected]

  8. Glen I understand the argument but no club is the same as they were 10 years ago. Carlton is a basket case, Geelong has finally won a GF Collingwood is trying to be corporate etc etc. Clubs evolve, teams change and supporters stick thick. The main change with SMFC and Swans is that Sydney are successful and the former struggled. The club in the ’70s was different to the foreign Legion of the ’30s and we can go on.
    I feel as a supporter no different to my struggling team at Lake Oval than I do now seeing them today. It’s my team, always through thick and thin and that’s all that matters to me. Only a true supporter knows this feeling.

  9. Tony Courtin says

    I am a Swans tragic.,and have been since I can remember as a 4 year old attending South games at the Lake Oval in the late 1950s. South played in the VFL,as did all the current Victorian-based AFL clubs. The VFL,which evolved from the VFA, was a very tribal game played by men who held down full-time jobs and dedicated their leisure time to playing the game they loved,for little financial return.It has evolved to become the AFL, a full-time professional sport,played in all Australian states and territories. Collingwood has not played at Victoria Park for decades,nor North Melbourne at Arden Street,Hawthorn at Glenferrie Oval,and so on.All the Victorian-based AFL clubs have evolved as the national competition has developed. The Swans,nee South Melbourne,are no different. One of my sisters,once a keen South supporter,felt betrayed when South went to Sydney in the early 1980s,and has since followed her husband’s team,Geelong. For her, the Sydney Swans had no connection with South Melbourne. My passion/”connection” has never diminished. Each to their own. Go the Bloods/Swans.

  10. Keiran Croker says

    I might add that my view is shared by great players of our Club in the South era. You only have to hear Bobby Skilton and Peter Bedford talk to understand that their passion for this Club is undiminished.

    I would also add that other than hoping for a 6th Swans flag I would be delighted to see the Western Bulldogs of Etihad Stadium win their 2nd flag!

  11. Yes I do find these comments and the conversation interesting. I don’t wish to go on and d on about this, as my perspective is not changing, nor are some of the other contributors.

    To Mr Trverton who talks about the 99% who believe South Melbourne/Sydney and Fitzroy/Brisbane are the same entity you seem to be a unique font of knowledge in this area. As I’ve said previously I am not here to say who to barrack for , only to comment on what I perceive. No i’m not ignoring your mention of Footscray and North Melbourne , two clubs who retain strong supporter base and organic links with the area in which they were formed. If you believe your understanding of how football ha evolved, is more nuanced than mine, and you wish to mock me as being some isolated 1%, you should read about the Dunning-Kruger effect .

    I really am not phased who people barrack for. I recall going to the Lakeside Oval, and the Junction Oval etc. Those days, those clubs are memories. Like EH Carr spoke about, history is our link between the present and the past. Of all the postings so far Ken Richards makes the most sense. Sydney fans celebrate what your team has accomplished in its time in the AFL. In its thirty three years you’ve won twice as many flags as Footscray and St Kilda combined.. Ditto Brisbane your team ha won three times as many flags as the two Victorian sides I’ve mentioned supporters .


  12. jan courtin says

    Thanks to everyone for their thoughts.

    Nothing further to add really. The Swans are South and Sydney for me, as I’m sure they are for all red and white supporters, especially those from Victoria.


  13. Nah sorry, you’ve got it wrong with the Lions aspect.
    They honour the history of Fitzroy beautifully and respectfully, albeit after a few bumps and some great fan fightback.
    It’s a new club that’s an evolution of what was and it honours the past in a way that some Roys fans such as myself felt continued it. That wasn’t the case for all and it’s a tragedy that some old Roys have been lost to footy or other teams.

    Here’s everything the Lions do to honour that heritage:
    -Raising the 44, 01, 02, 03 flags in Melbourne AND Brisbane
    -Brunswick St after each flag
    -FFC guernsey for heritage week
    -Former players names on lockers
    -Historical society at Docklands run by ex Roys
    -Roys last colours in Melbourne
    -The lion, colours, history, and song of Fitzroy
    -Hall of fame nights honouring Roys players
    -The Brunswick St bash
    -Multiple family days in Melbourne
    -Establishment of the Royal Derby Hotel as social club
    -Fitzroy team of the century function and motorcade in 2001 in Melbourne
    -Father son selections honoured
    -Many ex Fitzroy board members
    -Honours our past Brownlow wins and records
    -supports the VAFA Fitzroy team
    -sponsors players from the women’s VAFA and the men’s VAFA teams
    -supports the Fitzroy juniors
    -players are all taught about the history of Fitzroy upon playing for Brisbane
    -Moreton bay fig trees grown at our new HQ taken from Brunswick St seeds

    ALL of this comes at the expense of the club. Would be the easy road to not do any of that, but instead they do.

    We lose money on every Melbourne game we play as it means less home games. While the AFL doesn’t respect the fixed amount of Melbourne games, the club does, and I say this as a paid up member. They want more games in Melbourne.

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