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Round 2 – Sydney v Adelaide: Me, Football and Owen Too.


Good luck writing about that.


And with those words of encouragement my wife slips out to take photos and I’m left alone facing a blank screen and an empty mind. I get up, pace around, pick up a book, put it back. Fiddle around with the new hi-fi speakers, play some tunes, scour the favourite footy forums and stats sites. Looking for a spark, a sign, an omen. Something, anything, for inspiration.


I imagine it felt this way for the players and coaching staff last night.


My notebook is no help. For the last few years I’ve been dividing up each page, the bulk for notes the other portion a small banner on the right annotated with G for goal, B for behind, and then a smiley or sad face depending on who’s scored.


A long procession of sad faces staring back at me. Passages of play highlighted with outraged swirls and brackets and arrows. The final score where I’ve scrawled over Crows and written UMPS much in the way an extremely angry ex scratches out their previous partners face in their wedding photo album. Completely irrational in the light of day but when the final siren sounded, I was deflated and feeling that the diabolical officiating was somehow solely responsible for ruining the entire night. An indecipherable medley of missed-calls, bizarre calls, wrong calls, goals retracted, goals awarded and momentum stopping whistles had taken its toll. One memory stands out: the O’Reilly stand erupting when Reid’s arms were blatantly chopped, ending what might have been an eleventh-hour comeback, and it was just ‘move on-nothing to see here.’


Today though it’s the recollection of the Swans winning a fifty-metre penalty and then booting it straight to The Enemy that really underscores the game. I’m reminded of the old blues saying, if it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.


It didn’t start out that way. In fact, for the first few minutes it looked like we’d learned something from last week’s final quarter assault and that thing was playing attacking football. It paid off with a Ronke goal and I remember commenting maybe he’s on for another haul. Maybe we’ve woken up after the hot summer siesta.


From there on in though it was like an orchestra playing while the conductor had slipped off to the pub. Every instrument present but out of tune and position. Tempos all over the shop. No syncopation or unity. I’ll play this, no I want to, OK you play that and I’ll play the other bit, that’s fine but what are they playing? Where once we’d have locked them down The Enemy were exiting their defensive fifty at ease. Missed tackles and handballs to the man under pressure. Chip kicking around and then down the line to a two or three on one situation. Three or four goals against us straight out of the centre square; not even a midfield tussle, it was just bang and in and back to the bounce. In a game that now seemingly prizes leg speed above all else we looked well off the pace.


A few highlights in the mix of all of this. Reid’s tackle in the second quarter and follow up goal was great. If I stop and think about it the entire second quarter to get us within range is demonstration that when we do get it together it really works. Aliir gaining confidence as the game went on; intercepting and then gracefully navigating through half back. Jones, taking the game on, winning some losing some but always in it. Buddy’s three goals, two of them absolute crackers.


We played in bursts though when what was required was a consistent ramping up. It’s getting to be a habit that’s hard to shake. When my director quoted something yesterday afternoon that he’d heard in that font of all knowledge the local pizza shop, it made me nervous. Something along the lines of only four teams in AFL/VFL history have been 0-2 and gone on to win the entire comp. I was less worried about the staggeringly overwhelming odds but the fact there was a very good chance we’d be 0-2 later that evening.


And here’s where we find ourselves. It’s not the first time and unlikely to be the last.


I don’t have answers, there’s enough armchair experts to fill the SCG and then some out there. The only thing I’ve really learnt from these things is that when inspiration fails you just have to grind it out, accept the loss and keep going.


Go the Bloods.


This piece first appeared on the Sydney Swans website.


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  1. How true, Tom!
    Where from her? Who knows. Up, we hope!
    Cheer cheer

  2. Not exactly a really high standard game, with a few exceptions (2 of Buddy’s goals). Crows made too many errors, gifting Sydney at least 3 goals. I actually thought Swans looked the better team for most of the game and consider Crows won “ugly”. With the season still young, it will be most interesting to see how these 2 pan out in coming weeks -surely both will get better.

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