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Perspective is now possible

I hear there’s been a trade period. I hear that footy talk is still alive and well down south and I hear that Bulldogs-centric Melbourne is still celebrating all that is red white and blue. Well, you wouldn’t know it if you lived in Sydney. There’s been nothing – almost zilch – in the papers here since that horror of a day early in October.


What I’ve learned these past three weeks is that the two Mitchells have left their clubs and Kieren Jack now has a fiancée instead of merely a girlfriend. That’s about it. Just no AFL, Swans or Giants. Slightly untrue. I’m pretty sure there was brief mention of the AFL’s mean-spirited and ludicrous decision to ban the COLA to the two Sydney teams, and, as a result, Xavier Richards can’t afford to continue living here and wants to return home to Mum and Dad in Melbourne so he can save some money. Our former player, Andrejs Everitt, was also cited, saying he’d wanted to return to Melbourne because Sydney’s prices were way over the top, and mid tier footy players found it difficult in Sydney. Oh, if only you people from other States knew!


So, with real footy off the media agenda – not that it’s every really been on – our great game has been banished from the Sydney back pages, and the focus is now on the four nations rugby league tests and the various NRL scandals, Union, the A league, the forthcoming cricket test, and racing. Women’s netball gets a para here and there, as does Kyrgios, but who wants to read more about that boring kid. I sure don’t.


What is a girl to do? For about 60 odd years I’ve turned to the back pages for my daily dose of literature – albeit fleetingly since moving to Sydney, mind you – so, the past three weeks have been a real bonus for Marshall. I’ve stopped asking for the back section of the paper, which often means tearing off the relevant pages in order to allow him to read the important stuff. For some reason he seems to enjoy being woken to the delights of how we all treat each other: the wars, the murders, the rapes, the corporate greed and cover-ups, the political carryings-on here and elsewhere, and of course the obituaries. He also likes the crosswords. And he just loves the Letters. Sport isn’t really his thing, so when I’ve finished with the back pages he’ll take a cursory glance for anything red and white, then throw them on the floor. So, I’m happy that he’s happy – at least for the time being – in having the paper all to himself. It is one of his daily delights.


In fact, I’m actually happy that AFL is off the agenda in Sydney. Although over the raw part of the grieving process, the daily thoughts of my team, and that day, are still with me, and remnants of sadness and emptiness rear their ugly heads at times. The big difference to almost three weeks ago is that I’m now able to apply the all important perspective – something I just didn’t want to do, or didn’t feel capable of doing, on October 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th, or 5th………


That perspective was no more apparent than yesterday, when I spent several hours at Prince of Wales hospital, in preparation for a cataract operation next Monday. The Registrar I saw works mainly with children, specifically their eyes. The waiting room was chockers. Happy kids, sad kids, screaming kids, quiet kids. Happy and sad mums too, all caring for their wounded children. Naively, I asked whether the kids area was always so full and whether most of the appointments were for accidents or falls. Sadly, no. Most of the children and toddlers were there because their eyes had been affected in various ways by a whole range of disabilities, especially intellectual ones. And it was noticeable. And it was real. And this was just in a fifteen minute period, on one afternoon, at one hospital. It really hit home, and I felt a different sort of sadness. Or maybe it’s called empathy. I just looked at those mums and marvelled at their loving kindness towards their children; kindness that is required every minute of every day, and often, no doubt, under a range of stresses. I felt privileged and I felt grateful that all I needed was a cataract removal. I had the precious gift of sight, and many of those kids didn’t, or didn’t even know they didn’t.


As I left the hospital, thinking of my good fortune, I also realised how lucky I was to be able to drive a car and to be able to go to a grand final and actually see a game of footy – all despite the blurriness in the cataract-affected eye and even despite the blur that the result left me in for days afterwards. What is a blur compared to none at all!


I am, indeed, fortunate. Fortunate that I can choose whether to read the daily paper or not and fortunate that I know the difference.


And don’t worry, I haven’t missed out on any of the footy talk in Melbourne. I know who has gone where and who no club wants. I also know that three weeks on, I am very happy that I’m nowhere near any western suburb in Melbourne or in the vicinity of The Age or the Herald Sun, but instead in a non-AFL city that couldn’t really give a damn.


And, perspective keeps reminding me that the game into which I invest so much emotional energy, is simply that – a game! The only problem is that even though I know it intellectually, my heart tells me otherwise!

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. Neil Anderson says

    Nothing like a good dose of perspective and gratitude for good health to ease the pain of losing a footy-match, albeit a very important footy-match.
    Your paper scenario about grabbing the sports section first is definitely repeated in my household. You can imagine how I have been scanning all papers for the last three weeks for any scrap of Bulldog’s news. It all stopped yesterday after the draft news. Nothing but races and other sports in papers and on the TV sport news.
    It’s like we’ve entered some sort of twilight zone and all traces of our beloved teams have disappeared. Such a shock after a bombardment of footy news for the last six months.
    Don’t tell my wife, but the good news is most of the teams will be back in training in just a few weeks time.

  2. jan courtin says

    Hi Neil
    Twilight zone indeed! I found it interesting that a month or so after our 2005 and 2012 premiership wins, the “high” was actually replaced with a ‘low”. It had all just finished, and no next week to look forward to! But then I suppose if you’re an all or nothing type, that’s inevitable.

    In addition to scanning the papers relating to our GF wins, I also bought every paper I could get my hands on – even regional city papers – and created two very large scrap books which now just sit in a cupboard!! I pull them out occasionally to re-live the glory, but it was the collecting and reading of them after such wonderful wins that was the important thing.

    Enjoy it all while you can because you don’t know when, or if, it will happen again.


  3. Daniel Flesch says

    Another nice piece , Jan. Thank you. I can’t agree with you , though , that mid-tier Swans players can’t afford to live in Sydney on the money they’re paid. Millions of people survive there on much less than footballers get. I don’t know how much that is , but i’d bet it’s well above average wages. Footballers work hard and give us entertaining enjoyment , but they get a lot more than nurses, teachers, ambos , firies , electricity linesmen , public transport workers etc., who provide us with real and essential services we could not survive without . Sure ,a footballer’s playing career may be short , but it ensures good jobs on retirement. I suspect the Sydney boys crying poor might be expecting a rock star lifestyle rather than a well-paid worker’s one. If i was going in to bat for better players’ remuneration , i’d be advocating for much better money for the Women who will be getting such rubbish money they will have to buy their own boots !

  4. jan courtin says

    Thanks Daniel
    It wasn’t me saying mid-tier players can’t afford to live in Sydney – it was what was reported in the newspaper.

    I totally agree with you, that the average worker would receive less than mid-tier footy players, but I’m not sure about your belief that a player’s career ensures a good job on retirement. Quite often it’s the opposite. Unless the player has an apprenticeship or a degree, which these days is definitely unlikely, at aged 30+, where do they go and what do they do? Same in all professional sporting arenas. So their 10 year (maybe?) sporting life in terms of $’s needs to be taken into account.

    The only point I was trying to emphasise, even though it was coming from the newspaper report, was the stopping of COLA, and the fact that it is definitely more expensive here in the harbour city.

    Thanks again

  5. Cataract removal? Does this mean you won’t be one-eyed anymore??

    Good luck! Jude

  6. Hi Jan,

    I sense how you are passionate of your Swans. I like your writing showing your passionate.

    If you like following footy news, you can listen to 1116 SEN online, and read articles on And don’t forget checking this wonderful Almanac.

    I hope you are healing well from the devestatning loss at the Grand Final.



  7. whilst sitting at Tiamos cafe in Carlton down south with rain noisily drumming on the verandah above my head i did burst out with laughter reading Judys comment about one eyed supporter. very funny Jude! Jan your story allows me to always remember what i am appreciative of in my daily life. and i love the Swannies and i thank you for PERSPECTIVE .. you are right. we are so fortunate and we will win more flags!!!!!! and we are fortunte our team is the swannies. we are fortunate cos they are the best team. go Jan i so enjoy your stories. arent i fortunate you are a writer!!

  8. jan courtin says

    Thanks Jude, Yoshi and Polly

    I think I might just be more one-eyed. if that’s possible, Jude, as the eye in question will have much more clarity!

    Yoshi, even without the Sydney papers (which rarely have anything about the other AFL teams anyway) I read the AFL site, the Swans website and we also have Fox, which keeps us up to date with all the news, including the Fox Footy channel which shows all of the games. I also read Melbourne’s The Age on line. I listens to SEN sometimes, when we’re down in Melbourne, but I must say it’s not one of my favourite radio stations for footy. Too may loud, screaming adverts, and too many stupid questions being phoned in. Thanks for the advice though.

    Thanks Polly. I’m always trying to get the perspective right, but sometimes I fail, especially when it comes to the Bloods.

    Cheer Cheer

  9. Keiran Croker says

    Perspective and gratitude are indeed important Jan. I love my cricket, however I find this period after the main footy season quite empty. Nothing can replace the hype of following your footy team.
    I’ve also found the commentary about fringe players not being able to live in Sydney due to high costs of living to be quite disingenuous. These young men earn way above the average wage. If they can’t afford to live in Sydney who can? Some perspective is needed here.

  10. Ah Jan, I wondered where you’d got to. All thoroughly understandable. And what a powerful experience with the children to provide perspective.
    Looking resolutely forward we have the thrill of the draft coming up, and training resumes in about a month. Hope springs eternal!

  11. jan courtin says

    Thanks Keiran and Don

    October’s nearly finished, Keiran!! We’ve actually managed to get to two of the national competition’s one-day series games (something about barbeques). Both here in Sydney: NSW v Qld at two beautiful old cricket ovals – Drummoyne and North Sydney. My team Qld, ended up top of the table and LOST!! Shield starting soon – I love Shield games – but unfortunately Qld only plays here once, in Feb. Tests in Dec and Jan.

    Yes, I’m still around, Don. Maybe you missed an article I did manage to write, 6 days after that horrible Saturday! It’ll be somewhere here on the site.

    To both of you: Before we know it, our boys will be running out onto the SCG in their beautiful red and white attire!

    Cheer cheer

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