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Round 1 – Sydney v Collingwood: The Important Six Months Begin. What a Beginning!

Six months is such a long time, if you’re a kid. I remember.

 

Six months is no time at all, if you’re an “oldie”. I know.

 

A lot has happened this past six months.

 

The politicians and demagogues of the world have bickered and fought – creating havoc and fear everywhere; the more enlightened leaders have attempted to give us some sliver of hope.

 

The inhumanity of humans to other humans has continued, and the simple little verb – albeit in capital letters: IS – has taken on a new meaning.

 

The feminist that he is, Justin Trudeau has appointed 50% of women into his Cabinet after winning the Canadian elections.

 

Refugees have roamed far and wide, in search of a clean bed, food, and some peace.

 

Sexually abused children – now adults – and their advocates have stood up to the all too powerful religious institutions that have protected their perpetrators for far too long.

 

Domestic violence headlines were all too frequent.

 

195 countries have agreed that remedies are urgently required to save our planet, and have adopted plans to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

 

China has announced that a new policy will be introduced, allowing its citizens to have two children instead of one.

 

The Marriage Equality campaign has gathered momentum, giving us hope that bigotry and ignorance will one day be issues from the past.

 

The same can hopefully be said about attitudes and beliefs towards Indigenous peoples.

 

Alas, the ordinary, everyday person hasn’t made the headlines; he and she have been too busy doing what they mostly try to do: care for themselves and others, spreading love and compassion along the way, thus ensuring that the good outweighs the bad.

 

And the sad and subsequent happy news that did, in fact, make the dailies: closer to home, here in Sydney, at Kippax Lake, just outside the SCG, the cygnet that was born in August last year (see my Footy Almanac article: https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/round-18-sydney-v-adelaide-a-cygnet-is-born-and-the-swans-rejoice/ ) died a few months later. The Parkland authorities then installed a breeding platform in the middle of the lake, and our two Swannies gave birth to three beautiful cygnets on March 9.

 

Two-week old cygnets with Mum and Dad, at Kippax Lake. Photo: Jan Courtin

Two-week old cygnets with Mum and Dad, at Kippax Lake. Photo: Jan Courtin

 

And, no list is complete without sport. Michelle Payne made history and has encouraged more women to challenge the men in the racing industry.

 

The AFL has belatedly apologised to Adam Goodes for the obnoxious, appalling treatment he had to endure in 2015.

 

John Worsfold was appointed Essendon’s coach and the doping saga continued, with almost half of that team’s current players, and several former players now at other Clubs, banned from playing this year.

 

We petitioned and fought for it and are finally now allowed to play all of our Sydney games at our home ground.

 

Footballers have come and gone, others now vow their allegiance to the enemy of the previous year, and new baby-faced kids brace themselves for sporting fame.

 

On a personal note: since that happy team from Hawthorn won on October 3, 2015 – almost 6 months to this day – I have written a manuscript (editing, layout and design completed) and I’m currently thinking of publishers. The title is My life-long love affair with the Swans, and some of the personal stories from my Footy Almanac articles in 2015 have been incorporated, in some form, into the book.

 

I had to cancel an overseas trip in October due to my sudden illness. We went on a shorter visit to London in freezing cold February.

 

We’re now back, ready for what I consider the important six months of the year.

 

And, be afraid! Very afraid! Donald Trump is still hovering.

 

 

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“Tell them to call back – I’m meeting with my advisers.” New Yorker Magazine, March 18, 2016

 

 

How good it is, being at the SCG, instead of having to traipse out west to that inglorious stadium – the one built for the 2000 Olympics, now called ANZ Stadium, where it has been impossible, for whatever reason, to develop a sense of camaraderie, oneness, belonging when attending games there these past fourteen years. There is a coldness about the place, a disconnectedness – from the supporters’ perspective – and a place that I certainly won’t miss if I never go there again. The games’ results haven’t been too bad mind you – winning 32 of 54, but supporters have certainly never felt that the venue had any true home-ground advantage. I’m sure the players, too, are extremely happy to be back home at the SCG.

 

The familiarity of the O’Reilly stand and its members is comforting. We all seem to have survived the last six months intact, and I have to hope that the few missing faces is due to it being Easter, and not sad events, especially amongst the older members. Time will tell.

 

My brother Tony and his partner Liz flew up for the game from Melbourne on Good Friday, accompanied by the Collingwood entourage sitting in front of them. Liz excitedly took some happy snaps for her Magpie son; Tony, a Swan through and through, was not interested. His main focus was on the new boys in our team and how we would fare without Teddy Richards, Jarrad McVeigh, Sammy Reid, Gary Rohan and Benny McGlynn. We also discussed how, yet again, the media from down south have already condemned the Swans. They do it year after year – it’s always the same verbal diarrhea: Sydney will slide; Sydney is the worst kicking side in the competition; Sydney’s players are too old, and slow; Sydney’s backline is their weakest link, and so on and so on. It gets very tiresome after a while, and borders on boredom to tell you the truth.

 

To finish the previous year a game away from a Prelim Final (with a quarter of our team not playing, due to injuries) apparently counts for nothing according to the southern scribes, and one Fox person even went as far as saying, tongue in cheek, that the Swans have played in finals 17 of the past 19 years (it’s actually 18 of the past 20) so it’s about time they failed – or words to that effect.

 

We will see. We usually – or almost always – prove them wrong.

 

Saturday night’s Swans might just help them sway their beliefs. It is only Round 1, but what better way to start the season. With a team full of youngsters, half of whom have played fewer than 50 games, it was a magnificent start. If we had kicked accurately, it would have been even more magnificent.

 

The eventual margin certainly wasn’t anticipated. I had no inkling before the match as to who would come away with the four points. The NAB Cup is certainly no guide, so it was very pleasing to see the new boys play so well: George Hewitt, instrumental in a couple of goals in the second quarter, Callum Mills, his 18 possessions and looking to fulfil the promise surrounding him, and Tom Papley – although not necessarily reminding me of Max, his Grandad – impressed with his three goals.

 

I certainly remember Max Papley. He was our a star number 11. Probably about the same height as Tom – maybe a few centimetres taller – he joined South in 1964 and played as a half forward and centreman. He was our leading goalkicker that year and won our best and fairest in 1966. He also represented Victoria for the four years of his VFL career. His cricketing talents and his love of bat and ball conflicted with his footy commitments and he eventually left South in 1968. He went on to captain-coach Williamstown and led the club to Grand Finals in his first three seasons. He was named in that team’s Team of the Century in 2003.

 

So, if Tom can live up to his Grandad’s long-standing reputation at South Melbourne, he too will be a star.

 

It was also very pleasing to see the more experienced boys play so well on Saturday night, notably Luke Parker, Heath Grundy, Keiran Jack, Sammy Mitchell, Jake Lloyd, Tommy Mitchell and Buddy Franklin. The slick hand-passing, especially in congested situations, and the overall ball movement – though not perfect – was a pleasure to watch.

 

Collingwood. Well, what is there to say? Perhaps their supporters said it all.

 

One very drunk main in his fifties, perhaps, sitting right next to Tony in the O’Reilly Concourse section, had proudly told the Swans crowd before the match that he’d bet $100 on his team to win by four goals. Throughout the first half he chose to drink a glass of beer every time we kicked a goal (10 of them) – on top of about six he’d drunk before the game started. And, apparently every time the crowd cheered, he told them to f…k off you Sydney c…s”. The police evicted him at half time.

 

Then there were four more of them, sitting right in front of me and Marshall in the O’Reilly Stand. They were mostly silent throughout the game, but on one occasion I heard a moan in the second quarter: “What an absolute disgrace”. In the third quarter when Collingwood kicked their second goal, one of the more hoon-types, sitting further along the row, stood up, flung his arms into the air and screamed as loudly as he could “f…k you Sydney, f…k you”. As if that was going to help, or relieve his frustration, but his angry face certainly told a story!

 

The best expressions of disgust came after the game. One late-twenty-something supporter, leaving the seating area, ripped off his black and white guernsey, flung it onto the ground, and said over and over “f…..g rubbish. f…..k rubbish”. He even stomped on it! Then, before we’d even left the precinct, I saw two Collingwood scarves sitting, all alone, on the concrete ground, without a friend in sight. Oh dear. Perhaps they now understand a little better what we South Melbourne supporters had to endure year after year after year!

 

It is only Round 1, but we’re looking like the Bloods of previous years, and who knows at this early stage, maybe even a little better than in previous years? I now eagerly await next week’s game against what appears to be a vastly improved Carlton.

 

Walking home to Surry Hills after the game with Tony and Liz, the conversation is mostly about who will be dropped to make way for our missing stars in the following weeks. A nice dilemma indeed!

 

My highlights for the game:

 

All of the new boys.
And, all of the older boys – a great team effort.

 

A sign on a car parked outside the SCG on Good Friday (whilst the Collingwood players were having a training run on the hallowed turf) taking pride of place in amongst the many and varied Collingwood stickers plastered all over the rear window and door. It read:
Get Over It – We Hate You Too! That sentiment would definitely have been magnified this weekend.

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. www.myswansloveaffair.com

Comments

  1. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,great to have you back writing about the game,and life. A most enjoyable victory,despite the incessant gibberish spluttering from an Inebriated Collingwood fan next to us. One cannot reason with alcohol and ignorance,hence,after quarter time, Liz and I chose to sit well away from our neighbour’s drunken ramblings,and we had lots more leg room! Jan,it will indeed be sweet for the Swans to yet again prove the expert tipsters wrong this season. Early days,but an ideal start. Go bloods.

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Jan, maybe the new cygnets on the lake should be called Millsy, Paps & Georgie!?

  3. jan courtin says

    Good one Keiran! They all look identical to me, so I’d certainly be guessing when calling them by their names!

    Yes, Tony, it would be sweet indeed to again prove the expert tipsters wrong this year!

    Thanks
    Jan

  4. Paul Buxton says

    Interesting comments re ANZ Stadium v SCG in the light of the Adelaide Oval v AAMI Stadium for us Port supporters. We had the even worse experience of the SANFL allowing the Cows to turn AAMI into their home ground. Cold and disconnected indeed. Small wonder the new Oval has been popular.

  5. jan courtin says

    Thanks Paul. I wasn’t aware of the ramifications and implications for Port regarding the grounds. I presume you’re happy now that you’re playing at Adelaide Oval. It’s a great ground – love it for cricket, and looking forward to going there in a few weeks our our game against the Crows.
    Good luck this year.

  6. Ross Treverton says

    Lovely to have you back Jan. You’re writing for the Almanac, the Swans are proving the experts wrong (yet again) and another Papley is wearing the red and white. All is good in my sporting world! Go you mighty bloodstained Angels!

  7. Yes Jan, young Tom Paley looked impressive. Totally different club to one his grandfather played for, though the colours are the same.

    If he;s as good as Max he’ll be around for quite a while.

    Glen!

  8. jan courtin says

    Thanks for Comments Ross and Glen.

    It’s more like a different era Glen, as opposed to a different Club. Colours the same and history going back to 1874: South Melbourne and Sydney Swans are one and the same, except of course the latter is now Sydney based.

    So far, so good, Ross. Only time will tell!. Cheer Cheer

  9. Ta Jan,thanks for your reply.

    I respect your sentiment though South Melbourne/Sydney, Fitzroy/Brisbane are never the same clubs. more so a case of the marketers stealing the history/legacy of a proud Victorian club, then foisting it on a new corporate creation which has no supporter base, existing solely the $$.

    Hope the Swans do well in 2016, you’d need to do better than 2014 when they cost me a fortune !!!.

    All the best,

    Glen!

  10. jan courtin says

    Thanks Glen
    Only difference in South Melbourne and Fitzroy is that the South players were transported to Sydney as an entire existing team, whereas Fitzroy, as we knew it, died a sad death. Only some of their players played for the Brisbane Bears.

    For me, and the many thousands of old South supporters and their now Swans-supporting children – and indeed some Sydney supporters – the Club’s history is still completely relevant today.

    And, yes I agree with you that we need to do better than 2014 when it cost many people a fortune!! I didn’t lose financially, as I don’t bet, but all the red and white family lost terribly, emotionally!

  11. Ross Treverton says

    Glen, are the Western Bulldogs the same club given they are no longer Footscray and now play their home games at Etihad instead if the Western Oval? Do you discount North’s time as the renamed ‘Kangaroos’ and adjust their history during this time accordingly? In both cases, the answer is obvious. And yet there are still people who continue to offer up Sydney being ‘not the same club’ as South Melbourne. They relocated – obviously. But they kept their entire playing personnel, and until 1987, the same design jumpers (not on their own there…). Geelong is probably the only true example of an AFL club who you could transport from 2016 to 1966 and find them playing at the same ground and in the same design jumpers. If it’s good enough for the historians at the AFL to acknowledge the history of South Melbourne as part and parcel of that of the Sydney Swans, then it’s clearly good enough for for everyone else as well. Cheer, cheer!

  12. jan courtin says

    Hear! Hear! and Cheer Cheer Ross.
    Well said.
    Thanks.
    Jan

  13. Without delving into the esoteric and repeating points ad nauseum i’m stultified how any club who played for nigh on a century in inner melbourne can be the same entity playing a thousand + K’s away. I’m not one to say who people should barack for,, that’s your call. I remember going to watch those two long gone Melbourne team s,on Saturday afternoons, and the only resemblance they have to these interstate sides is what the marketing people have constructed.

    Ross, if the AFL historian chose to pretend these current teams have a link to those teams who no longer exist, good luck to them. If hey didn’t pay homage to these furphies they wouldn’t be working nay further for the AFL.

    Now i’ll stop before i go any further. Have god weekend sad hope Sydney beat Carlton; as they should.

    Glen!

  14. Ross Treverton says

    Thanks Glen. Always good to hear from the 1per cent who can’t see what the other 99 per cent can!

  15. Ross, the idea of a blog like this is to have a dialogue between people interested in sport. I don’t appreciate an arrogant statement like that.

    Glen!

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