Living as a Demon in a Swans Family

Every second Sunday.

I was just a kid when the Swans came to Sydney in 1982. Their arrival was the most influential factor on my life. If the Swans didn’t come to Sydney when they did, my life would have been completely different. There is every chance I would have been an engineer or a scientist responsible for ground-breaking medicine. Something important.

The Swans came to Sydney and I fell in love with Aussie Rules Football. There were other factors at play of course, the Swans can’t be held solely responsible for my lack of attention to anything other than football.

The first mate I made at school just happened to play Aussie Rules. That is as likely as finding yourself in the audience of Q&A sitting next to a Liberal voter.

The major catalyst for falling in love with footy was my Dad. He was born and bred in country Victoria. Warrnambool. He was a Melbourne Demons supporter and he was at the MCG when the Demons beat the Magpies to win their last premiership in 1964. He can fondly re-count how Melbourne got up on that famous day. He is the reason I support the Dees.

Dad met Mum who was from Sydney and I grew up in the Harbour City a couple of years ahead of my brother.

I was six years old when the Swans played their first home game at the SCG against Melbourne. The Swans beat us that day. It would be no surprise to learn this has been a common occurrence at the SCG since.

It defies logic to live in Sydney and follow an AFL team other than the Swans. I know that. These days, of course, there is also the Giants. Back in 1982, if you wanted to watch the footy, you needed to get yourself to the SCG every second Sunday. We did. Religiously.

Every second Sunday, as a family, sandwiches and thermos packed, 50 cents in the pocket for a Record, we would head to the SCG to watch the Swans. Mum dressed me in my long sleeve Swans jumper with number 25 on the back, corduroy jeans and desert boots.

Occasionally we would go to the after match function where I might get an autograph, always on the lookout for Big Roundy.

We were all Swans members, Dad still is, my brother is a mad Swans supporter, as is Mum, but her support these days is more to prevent Dad from having a heart attack. If only Ted Richards knew what he did to Dad’s blood pressure.

For every other day but that second Sunday, the Demons were my team. When the Demons played the Swans, I was a Demon. I couldn’t help it. Nobody from the Department of Community Services ever intervened. My fate was sealed and I was too young to know better.

One night at an after match function, when the Swans played Melbourne, I snuck into a cordoned off area to get Ron Barassi and Robbie Flower’s autographs. A moment I will never, ever forget. Robbie Flower. My absolute hero. Everyday I wish they would do it for Robbie.

When we got home, if I was lucky enough, I would get the last lukewarm cup of sugar-saturated, milky coffee from the bottom of Mum and Dad’s thermos. I can still taste the sweetness. If all the stars aligned and Timer Record worked on the VCR, we would have The Winners to watch before bed.

Whilst the rest of the family have experienced a life of highs and highs with the Sydney Swans, I have lived the modern day footballing tragedy of the Melbourne Football Club. To allow my own two sons and soon-to-be-wife, Samantha, to follow me down this path, is a decision I can’t bare to make.

How could anybody even consider this? You have struggled with the torture all your life and now you are going to succumb the very people you love to the same thing?

The answer is simple. It’s all about to change. You can feel it. You can see it. Again. This time it’s for real.

It’s in Petracca’s brutality, Hogan’s ferociousness, Jones’s grittiness, and it’s in the fierceness of Viney.

The passion is back. I promise you. I saw it last Monday against the Pies. Confidence is emerging. That was evident against Hawthorn the week before. Wins aren’t as few and far between as they once were. Losing is not expected anymore and the hoodoos, so many of them, are slowly disappearing.

We haven’t beaten the Swans at the SCG for 10 years. The last time I watched us play the Swans at the SCG, I cried myself to sleep.

I’m not scared to go back there this weekend. We are a genuine chance.

This Sunday, Dad will be wearing red and white. I will be wearing red and blue. My brother will be watching on tv on the other side of the country. It will be Samantha’s first AFL game. Who she supports is her decision but I will be driving home.

Mum will be at home looking after my two boys and just like the good old days, she will pack a thermos for us.

But this second Sunday, nothing could taste sweeter than a Dees win.

FAlmanac banner


Demons supporter. 1987 broke my heart. 1988 and 2000 is gone from my memory. The scars still exist. I still want them to do it for Robbie. I dream about the magic day all the time.


  1. Dave Brown says

    An enjoyable read, Piffy, and good luck on Sunday. I put my music on shuffle yesterday and four of the first 10 tracks were My Friend the Chocolate Cake (they don’t make up 40% of my music collection). I’m taking that as an omen the Demons will win.

  2. jan courtin says

    Good story, Piffy, but I’m really interested in why your Dad didn’t continue being a Demon. I can understand “liking” another team, and as you’ve probably witnessed at the SCG, people will wear two teams’ scarves around their necks at times, but I always find it slightly sad when someone actually changes allegiance, even though to the mighty Swans.

    If Samantha and your two boys decide to follow your footsteps, at least they shouldn’t have to wait as long as you have for a Dees flag. However. if they chose the red and white they may not have to wait that much longer at all!

    Good luck, but I have to say I hope you’ll be crying yourself to sleep this time round as well!

  3. Jan, allow me to satisfy your curiosity. True enough Piffy’s father was a one-eyed Dees supporter from the time he was 7. He moved to NSW in 1973 and like all AFL tragics living in Sydney (and north thereof) was deprived of footy news and TV coverage. The SMFC move to Sydney was met with much joy as it meant greater coverage and a home game to attend every second week during the season.

    On 28th March 1982, the recently relocated South Melbourne Football Club played as the Sydney Swans against the Dees at the SCG. Piffy Snr took his family to the game and came away thinking that if he was to watch the Swans play regularly, then he should become a member and truly support the Club. He liked the buzz, the atmosphere and the fellowship. 35 Years later, he is still a passionate Swans member.

    However, some things don’t change and he gets much pleasure from watching the Dees get up and win. Just not this Sunday!

  4. jan courtin says

    Thanks for the explanation Bodey. I understand what you’re saying about AFL tragics living in the Northern States and being deprived of footy (I lived in Brissie for 22 years from 1978 but no way would I change my passion for South at the time and barrack for Brisbane) and I’m more than happy to know of another Swans supporter on board, but all I was saying is I still find it sad and sort of hard to understand when I read or hear about an adult changing allegiance!

    Go the Bloods!

  5. Thanks Dave. Your comment made me laugh.
    I’m looking forward to an enjoyable afternoon. I can be confident of two things Jan, 1. There will be no tears this weekend and 2. Dad will always have a red and blue flame flickering away there somewhere. Good luck for the weekend. Should be a ripper.

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    A delightful read Piffy.
    I can understand the double barrack. Our two year old decided the day after the 2006 GF (which he attended at 2!! – us Sydney siders didn’t quite get how intense it is) that he was an Eagles supporter. We let it be, in the hope that lack of attention would fizzle his interest. He wore the blue and yellow until he was 5 and it was replaced with a Newtown Swans Auskick shirt.
    Despite the rivalry and the pain of the divergent child (who has thankfully returned) we all still have a strange soft spot for the Eagles. It’s inexplicable, but it’s there. Such is the complexity of humans, I guess.
    Should be a great game. Go Bloods!

  7. Good to hear of a Demon supporter north of the border.

    My son and I – both of us keen Demon supporters – are enjoying this year, but I worry about what is going to happen when Roos leaves. Will they start to slip backwards? Goodwin, as a first time senior coach, is an unknown quantity. Of course, we all hope he will do well, but there is no guarantee that he will. My policy is to take as much pleasure as possible from this year’s victories, as there is every chance we will begin to slip backwards again next year. Having said that, I am not at all confident this weekend!

  8. Little Piff says

    Ah yes, the highs and highs of the Swans. The only blimp in an awesome read big brother. For you were also there for the 26 game losing streak.

    I only hope that one day we can watch the Dee’s win a Grand Final together so I can return the favour of watching you spew your guts up in tribulation as we return home from the celebratory night out in the turps.

  9. Great piece Piff. If it helps, I can remember 2000, watching the replay “live” at The Fulham Tup. You did extremely well to conceal what you knew, especially after seeing your reaction on the final siren.

  10. Thanks for all those kind comments. Much appreciated. Well done Mathilde on the return of your divergent child. Very funny! Keep the faith Stephen! Roosy wouldn’t leave us if he didn’t think Goodwin was ready. He’s a good man. Yes, Little Piff. You know the Barassi coached Swans broke their drought against the Dees. Tunners, thanks for the message. If I had my time over, I’m not sure I would do that again.
    Big day tomorrow.

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