People and memoir: Jan Courtin and her long-standing love affair with the Swans

From the age of 13, when I wrote a poem simply called Red and White, I believed I was old enough to go out with one of my handsome heroes from South. My mother would have none of it, so I waited for several years until I no longer had to obey her. In 1964, aged 20, some of those handsome men came into my life.


Before this photo was taken that year, I befriended Bernie, a South stalwart, who lived with his mum not far from the ground. I’d see him at all the games in his wheelchair and offered to help him one day when he couldn’t manoeuvre the chair over a rough piece of ground. We became mates. South mates.


Some of the players would chat with him after the games and during some of the Night Series matches I would wheel his chair to the area where the South guys, not playing, sat. I sat with him, and them. He was thrilled to be able to be amongst his heroes. Indeed, I was too!


Around this time in 1964 I had met enough of them to feel confident that they might like to come over to our house in Surrey Hills for a party. Mum didn’t seem to mind and was more than happy to cook up a treat and be the perfect Mum to my handsome men. Quite a few of the players would come over after a Saturday game and join in with the six Courtin girls and friends for a great time. We had several of those South parties and I was absolutely in seventh heaven. The great Skilts even came to one.


I did in fact go out with several South players around this time and thought that I was madly in love with a couple of them, but marrying one of my red and white heroes, alas wasn’t to be!


So, this photo was taken at a South Melbourne Ball (Prom if you’re that young) late in 1964. The players were, from left, Bob Strachan, Fred Rees and Des Bethke. I’m next to Des.



Some very lucky South Melbourne players with Jan Courtin

Some very lucky South Melbourne players with Jan Courtin. From L- R: Bob Strachan, Fred Rees and Des Bethke. Jan is next to Des.



The memories of those times are still very real, and now 50 years later and old enough to be a grandmother to the current players, my love affair with my handsome Swans men continues!


Go the Mighty Bloods!

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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.

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