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Round 10 – Sydney v North Melbourne: Winter descends on the SCG but the Swans heat up the O’Reilly shiverers

It was dark and blustery when I started out for the game. Winter wasn’t just coming; it had checked in with six suitcases and was busy ordering up room service. Shambling across Moore Park towards the sodium lit halo of the SCG I regretted my choice of flimsy office attire. The wind would be whipping through the gap behind the big screen and the O’Reilly stand right into my seat. But there was no choice but to ignore the thermometer. We had to win and I had to be there to witness The Enemy’s hot streak come to a grinding halt. Resentful perhaps but these rivalries and desires are the DNA of football. Television isn’t the medium to do justice to those sorts of triumphs. You must be in the stands; heart pounding, throat raw.

 

Buddy started in the thick of things. His magic one hundred is enticing and he’s using every trick he knows to get there. But it was McVeigh who got our first goal, swooping on a missed kick in and slotting a long nonchalant punt between the uprights. The Enemy, despite an early reply, looked deflated and sluggish. Kennedy was a bull around the contest, recovering his errant handball and getting a goal. Handballs were fired out of the contest, perhaps not with pinpoint accuracy at times but with enough thought to put the ball to advantage. Jiving around The Enemy Buddy scored his first goal from close range and then his second, this time from outside the fifty. Heeney, standing strangely alone out the back, added to the tally. It was the fast start you always want to see but was it enough to bewilder The Enemy? Would it shred their game plan into tatters?

 

The scoreboard at the end of the second quarter said definitely not. Hannebery and McVeigh were our only goal scorers, the latter courtesy of a fantastic looping handball through the middle of the ground. Rohan was agonisingly finger tips away from backing up last week’s performance. But mostly it was one-way traffic with The Enemy finding space and putting Grundy, Rampe and co under duress. There was a late resurgence of our early pressure with Mitchell laying a strong tackle, dishing the ball off to Lloyd who got it to Buddy on the arc.

 

Did The Enemy run across the mark? Where was the fifty metre penalty? It was ours. The crowd knew it.

 

I’m relying on memory here. I had hurried home eager to review that call only to find the damn game hadn’t recorded, the filthy set top box robbing me of that pleasure. The TV screen is now covered with garish yellow splotches mirroring my jaundiced view of Hawthorn as they overrun Brisbane this Saturday afternoon. Experts in the trade say it’s the HDMI connection. But I think The Box is planning something. Its eerie unwavering blue power button is taunting me. When its guard is down I’ll take a rusty screwdriver to its circuitry and finish it off.

 

Regardless, that non-fifty was one of many decisions not paid or otherwise that quarter. The ducking issue has risen again. Crucially the Swans gave up a very strong lead.

 

With Buddy lurking ominously and Cunningham’s clutch goal early in the third it looked like a renewal of that attacking mindset. Rohan was still tantalisingly close. The ball got picked off and into the hands of McGlynn who goaled. Mitchell was a tackling machine, getting himself onto the scoreboard with a tight angle set shot. Despite the game going into period of thrust and parry our defence and ball control looked measured. The long deadlock was broken when Rohan, finally finding his groove, zipped around The Enemy to bang the ball in.

 

It was touch and go early in the fourth quarter for both sides. The Enemy dived over Smith trying to spoil. Tippett almost got a sneaky goal. Buddy’s wind up from a quick flick was offline. With a combination of space and clever positioning The Enemy had their chances but couldn’t get the points. Heeney was on the lead yet Rampe inexplicably put it out on the full.

 

And then Jones, roaring up from half back, struck the ball off the side of his boot and through the sticks. Buddy got his third and nearly his fourth. And that took the heat out of the game. Hewett could’ve sealed it but he shanked his kick. The Enemy missed two golden opportunities but by then it was all over. We sang oblivious to the icy wind.

 

Whilst not an overly emotional or dramatic win it may prove to be a pivotal one. Multiple goal scorers, a ruck and midfield combination growing in confidence as well as young players who are standing tall; like the cold, these are factors that can’t be ignored anymore.

 

Winter has crept up on us. So too have the Swans.

 

About Tom Bally

Born in 1834 Tom Bally was instrumental in establishing the rules of the modern game. It's a little known fact and the rare times he talks about it all he'll say is "that bloody Wills chap got me full of grape one night and the next thing I know he's peacocking around Richmond Paddock like he dreamt up the whole thing on his lonesome. Still I got the last laugh didn't I eh? Introducing the Umpire and all that."

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says:

    As I just commented on Jan’s piece: too good. Outmuscled, outplayed and out classed.

  2. Keiran Croker says:

    I was there Tom. Bloody hell it was cold down the Showgrounds end during the Seconds. Not many people there though!
    I moved into the SCC Members with some mates for the big game. It was better there.
    Great win by our boys. Terrific pressure, solid defence and dominant midfield.

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