Round 1 – Brisbane v Sydney: ‘Oh Errol!’




Brisbane v Sydney

6:45pm, Saturday March 20

The Gabba



‘Oh, Errol’ might just be the cry we here over the next decade after the stunning debut performance from young Swan Errol Gulden. Firstly the name. Surprisingly he is only the second AFL/VFL player with that name, following Magpie rover Errol Hutchesson in the Fifties and Sixties. Of course the catch cry comes from the iconic song by Eighties Pub-rockers Australian Crawl in honour of legendary Australian actor, Errol Flynn.


And the performance. My stats guru nephew Nick, advises that Gulden is only the third player to kick 3 goals and take 10 marks on debut, joining Royce Hart (Tigers) and Warren Ralph (Blues).  Not bad company.  If you add 3 goal assists to those tallies, he is the first to achieve that combined output. Most importantly for an 18 year old standing only 176cm he looks to be very comfortable at the level displaying great ball winning ability and skill execution.


Initially though it looked like the Swans young team might be out-muscled by the more mature and experienced Lions outfit as they jumped to a 3 goal lead. Though the Swans gradually worked their way in to it with their first goal to another much hyped debutant West Aussie tall forward Logan McDonald. By the short break we were within a goal.


In to the second quarter the Swans gained control with exquisite kicking, slicing and dicing though the Lions defence. Most prominent was our lad Errol, firstly running hard to get on to the end of a play that he started on the wing and converting coolly from a tight angle. Minutes later he hits up Isaac Heeney with a neat pass for another major. Also important is the role being played by Callum Mills on ball after previously being an elite intercept defender.  By mid quarter we have kicked 7 unanswered goals either side of the break taking a handy 4 goal lead.


The Lions bounce back as you would expect from a top four side over recent years and by the big break the scores are level. I’m happy though as my Swans have shown quite a bit for a side that finished  third last the previous season. Key players Rampe, Heeney and Hewett are back from long term injuries providing some experience and resolve to match the exuberance of the kids. Our third debutant Braeden Campbell has looked sharp and neat off half back while second year lads Chad Warner and Sam Wicks have also contributed. At this point I’m just hoping we can stay in the game.


The third stanza delivers a stunning quarter of footy for the Swans. Based on pressure, running and smart kicking the goals flow. Initially Gulden again cleverly centres the ball to young Blakey who goals from a set shot on the 50 metre line. Then McDonald snags a second and third goal amongst multiples for Heeney, Mills, Reid and Wicks. Mills is dominant in his new role. Papley who has worked his way in to the game kicks our ninth for the quarter to provide a 7 goal lead at the last break. This is superb footy from a young, exuberant and skilled team.


As the rain comes the last quarter is a bit of a slog. The Lions get a few goals back, though Luke Parker ever hard and reliable kicks two of his own. The final margin is a 5 goal win for the Swans.


Much praise is rightly due to our younger brigade including midfielders Rowbottom and Florent, who have been prominent.  Special mention also to Papley and Hewett both playing their 100th games. Along with Mills they debuted in the first round of 2016. They all seem like young veterans in this side. However tonight the engine room has been driven by new ruckman Tom Hickey. Perhaps considered a journey man now at his fourth Club and 30 years old, he has been dominant in the ruck and mobile around the ground picking up 23 possessions. Callum Mills is clearly best on ground.


To be realistic the output of such a young squad is likely to fluctuate from game to game. However if they continue to play this way they are going to be exciting to watch and will win their share of games. And might we dream of the long awaited return of our champion forward Buddy Franklin to share the stage with these Cygnets? We have much to be excited about. Bring it on.  Go Bloods!



BRISBANE     3.3      8.4      10.7    14.10 (94)
SYDNEY          2.4      8.4      17.6    19.11 (125)


Bailey 3, Daniher 2, McCarthy 2, Berry, Coleman, Lyons, McCluggage, McInerney, Hipwood, Zorko
Sydney: Gulden 3, Heeney 3, McDonald 3, Mills 2, Parker 2, Reid 2, Wicks 2, Blakey, Papley


Bailey, Zorko, McCarthy, Coleman
Sydney: Mills, Gulden, Heeney, Hickey, Rowbottom, McCartin 


Crowd: 22,762 at the Gabba


Malarkey Medal: Gulden (Syd) 1, Hickey (Syd) 2, Mills (Syd) 3




The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE




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About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I’m disappointed that Gulden’s first name isn’t Gordon.

    Sounds like you’ve snagged a good’un Kieran.

  2. Exciting times for Swans fans. Really enjoyed watching the game as a neutral. Saw a bit of Logan McDonald in the WAFL last year and he is pure class. Moves like James Hird and a beautiful kick. Brisbane played bruise free football so the challenge will be when big bodies put physical pressure on your kids – but Jeez they’re gonna be good. Buddy is now the icing – not the cake.
    Looking at the post game celebrations I was struck by the (West Coast) smarts in your coaching/management group. Don Pyke has one of the best brains in footy; and ideally suited with young men rather than the big egos of Adelaide. Dean Cox has been there and done that as a player and assistant coach.
    I was sad to see Tom Hickey leave West Coast because he is a full hearted competitor. Sydney not only offered more $ but crucially more opportunity. He was never suited in the chop out role for Nic Nait at the Eagles. But he leaves a gap in our side with Oscar Allen now playing forward. Vardy is useless and Bailey Williams is still maturing – and Sunday showed our midfield is weak and very Nic Nait dependent.
    Enjoy the ride.

  3. Roseville Rocket says

    Cheer cheer Kieran!

    All the newbies except Logan were from Sydney – so no go-home factor, hopefully.
    There are up to 55 players in the AFL from NSW, doesn’t include the ACT.

  4. Paddy Grindlay says

    I would do anything
    Just to be like him

  5. Hi Keiran
    Cheer cheer back to you! Hope to see you at the Riser one day.

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