Jan Courtin’s tragic death (a piece from her brother Tony)







Jan Courtin, who has been a regular contributor to this format with many heartfelt articles about her beloved Swans, tragically left us on 4th August after a serious fall at home last week.


Her Swans’ love affair began in the late 1940s. As a curly-haired four year old girl fully kitted-out in red and white, she’d attend South Melbourne games at Lakeside Oval, Albert Park. Along with her dad and auntie she’d faithfully trudge along to South games every week of the footy season. As the years progressed she’d be joined at South games by the majority of her six younger siblings. Despite her fervent support the Swans rarely enjoyed success.


Jan’s passions were South Melbourne/Sydney Swans FC, family (six siblings and her husband of fifty years, Marshall), sport generally (she loved Test cricket), fine art (she and Marshall owned an art gallery in Paddington), and classical music. Whenever she listened to Brahms it reminded her of our mum, a classical pianist, and always brought a tear to her eyes.


Our family’s Swans’ connections date back to the early 1900s. Our great uncle, Jim Caldwell, played 155 games for  South Melbourne between 1909 and 1919, highlighted by captaining the 1918 premiership win over Collingwood. Articles about our uncle can be found amongst Jan’s trove of Swans’ memorabilia, spanning 75 years. Her book My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans, launched by Swans’ luminaries at the SCG in 2016, speaks volumes about her Swans’ devotion.(click on link at end  for more on her book).


Her dedication to  the Swans was demonstrated when, in 1970, she returned from London (international travel was not common then) to watch South Melbourne play St.Kilda in the first semi-final, the clubs’ first finals appearance since the 1945 Grand Final loss to Carlton. The words success and South Melbourne FC were rarely uttered in the same breath through that era.  Prior to the 2005 drought-breaking premiership win over the Eagles, Jan and I lamented we’d most likely leave this planet not having seen our team enjoy the ultimate success. Jan shed a few tears on that memorable day in 2005.


Football was always front of mind when we chatted or communicated via electronic media; in the 60s and 70s our footy exchanges were necessarily by landline phone or hand written letters. As recently as a day prior to Jan’s tragic fall we’d exchanged texts on Collingwood’s succession of narrow wins preventing our Swannies moving into the Top 4. I can hear her uttering several expletives after Collingwood’s recent six-point win over Melbourne.


Jan absolutely wore her heart on her sleeve regards anything Swans. I could talk for days about her footy experiences, but suffice to say the Swans’ family has lost a passionate true believer. To my beautiful sister, go Swannies.. Tony Courtin.



For more on Jan’s book, go to:  http://www.myswansloveaffair.com/




  1. Tony, I never had the good fortune to meet Jan in person, but I thoroughly enjoyed her musings on the Swans on the Almanac site. My sincere condolences to you, her family, and her friends.
    RIP Jan.

  2. Very sad news Tony. Condolences to all at a most difficult time.

  3. John Harms says

    Hi Tony. Thank you for sending these words to us in this terrible time. Jan found many kindred spirits at the Almanac – and made a huge contribution over the years. Relationships with those fellow travellers were intiated and nurtured by her words. People of all clubs related to her observations – which went way beyond the Swans and footy. Vale Jan Courtin.

  4. Colin Ritchie says

    I had the pleasure of meeting Jan at a Footy Almanac function a few years ago; a gracious, sincere, articulate and intelligent person who undoubtably had a great love for the Swans.She was a delight to be with. Like all in the Footy Almanac family I was shocked by the news of her death and I pass on my condolences to her family. Her writings will be sadly missed at the Footy Almanac.

  5. Chris Bracher says

    Tony they are beautiful words to honour a unique lady. Jan’;s regular trips down the Hume and back to watch her beloved Bloods spoke of unrivalled passion and commitment.

    May heaven be draped in red and white as it receives your beautiful sister.

    I should be in Violet town later this week, I will call you then.

  6. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Tony, very sad to hear of Jan’s passing. I was delighted to form a friendship with her, mostly virtual over our love of the Swans and writing on them for the Almanac and the Swans website. I’ve never met a more passionate Swans supporter. I was very pleased when she asked me to write a review for her book. I’ll be thinking of her when I travel north this weekend for our game against the Pies. Vale Jan.
    cheer, cheer, Keiran

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Tragic news Tony. Condolences to you all.

    Jan certainly kept me on my toes when I was on Almanac editing duties.

    This link gives some indication of Jan’s passion for the Swans and for life.


    Vale Jan

  8. craig dodson says

    Condolences to you and the family. I was fortunate to meet and speak with Jan over the years, sharing our passion for the Swans. When I decided to publish a book on a cricket adventure I was undertaking, Jan generously gave her time and advice. I am glad our paths crossed. RIP Jan

  9. My condolences Tony, hope everyone’s doing okay at a really difficult time

  10. Tony Courtin says

    To the Almanac family,my deepest gratitude for all your kind responses. Thought I was done with the tears today after shedding a few at breakfast this morning,but upon reading your posts just now my sleeves are soaking wet.I am so happy Jan touched so many at Almanac. Would love to meet as many as possible at Jan’s celebration next week,likely Tuesday. I will communicate with John Harmes as soon as I have final details. Chris,would be great to hear from you later this week when you’re in our region;my coffee gets a pass mark! Go bloods.

  11. Thank you for this writing here, Tony.
    Please accept my condolences.

    Jan’s generous and spirited writing and enthusiasm for connection certainly made a difference to me.

    I always enjoyed Jan’s observations on Test cricket.

    Cheer, cheer Jan.

  12. polly courtin says

    from polly

  13. Peter Fuller says

    Thanks Tony. I can only guess how you are all feeling, and I offer my sympathy. I loved the frequency which other Courtin family would comment on Jan’s contributions to the Alamanc website. I recall a remark by Kim Beazley at the time of the death of his brother. Uncharacteristically for that garrulous man, he was almost lost for words, but finally managed “family is everything”.
    I hope that you all take comfort from the fact that Jan was admired, and yes loved, by so many people in this community.

  14. This is terrible news Tony. Jan used to sit a few seats behind me at the SCG so we got to know each other a bit over the years. Her passion for the Swans and forthright, honest, writing was an inspiration.

    My condolences to the family and friends.

  15. Just terrible shocking news massive condolences,Tony,LOVED her passion for the Swans her immense love and patience with,Marshall words just aren’t enough-RIP Jan

  16. Donna McGrath says

    So sad to read this news. I saw Jan at a Swans function in Melbourne and learnt of her book, which I bought. What a great read from a very passionate Swannies supporter. I loved the way she wrote about the games. My thoughts echoed what she thought most of the time. Thinking of her family at this sad time. R.I.P Jan. ?

  17. Daryl Schramm says

    I had been looking forward to meeting Jan someday Tony. I was shocked and saddened on finding out about her passing. My thoughts are with your family at this difficult time. Thank you for the post.

  18. DBalassone says

    Very sad to hear this. Beautiful tributes Tony and JTH. RIP Jan.

  19. Kath Presdee says

    Very sorry to hear that.

    Condolences to your family.

    Vale Jan

  20. roger lowrey says


    Condolences to you, your family and friends.

    Jan’s was always, to me at least, the semi-official authoritative Almanac commentary on Swans’ games.

    I always clicked on her posts first time every time whenever I logged on in that excited way you do to see “hey, who’s out and about there among my friends in FA land today?”. I’d always know where she was coming from so writer bias was never a problem!

    Love your tribute too JTH – if these post thingees interconnect.


  21. Luke Reynolds says

    Lovely tribute Tony. Very much shocked and saddened by Jan’s passing.

    Met Jan and Marshall at a few Almanac functions as well as catching up with them both at a
    memorable day of cricket at a Victoria v Queensland one day game at the Junction Oval in 2019.
    Sadly for Jan my Vics had a win over her Queensland Bulls in a fantastic game of cricket.
    Loved talking sport with her, always impressed with her knowledge of cricket and passion for her
    beloved Swans.

    A massive loss for the Almanac community. Condolences to everyone in the Courtin family.

    Vale Jan.

  22. Tony Courtin says

    Jan would be so moved by everyone’s wholehearted sentiments. Thank-you. John Harms ([email protected]) has details of the celebration of Jan’s life, next Tuesday, 16th August at 1pm. If you cannot get John I can be contacted by email: [email protected] We need to know approximate numbers, so rsvp is greatly appreciated. Cheers Tony

  23. Thank you, Tony. Your words mean a lot in the wake of such a horrific event that has touched us all and has surely wounded you and yours far deeper. Vale Jan.

  24. Thanks Tony for sharing. Unexpected death is a horrible thing.
    My prayers for you and family at this time.

  25. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    The Swans wore black arm-bands today against Collingwood in honour of Jan and also Jim Main

  26. I’ve only just caught up today with the shocking news of Jan’s sudden death. Over the years I have enjoyed reading about her passion for the Swans and am greatly saddened by her passing. Condolences to her family. I’m sure she was looking down from Heaven today to see the Swans’ wonderful victory over Collingwood.

  27. Beverley Tessari says

    Tony I knew your family many years ago when you were all still at school. I remember Jan well and am so sad to hear of her passing. My dear close friend was Ron Musgrave also Jan’s friend. My family also share Jan’s love of the red and white.
    Condolences to all of Jan’s family from the Tessari family.

  28. Julie Cattlin says

    Tony dear.
    What a really beautiful piece you’ve written about our gorgeous oldest sister.
    It’s been lovely reading all the comments. Jan dear, you were loved by so many Swans’ and Almanac fans.
    I’m not a dedicated, passionate football follower like Jan, but I’m sure wanting them to win the big one this year!! Just for you, Jan dear.
    Go Swannies!!
    Julie – sister number three.

  29. Margaret Wild (Hunter) says

    Dear Janet. Such tragic news. Wonderful article Tony. I always looked for her in the crowd at the Swans game. Precious memories of the Courtin family. So happy we had the reunion, how times have changed since then.
    Love to you all at this sad time. Margaret David (& Betty).

  30. Whist it was certainly very sad news of Jan’s passing, I couldn’t help but think of her after last night’s rousing Swans victory over a fast finishing Collingwood, to book a place in the 2022 Grand Final against Geelong. It’s a crying shame we can’t look forward to her writing in the Almanac about that memorable win.

  31. Kathy connelky says

    I was a California friend of Jan and Marshall so sorry to hear of her passing

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