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Round 11 – Gold Coast v Sydney: A Wet, Wild, Windy, Wicked Weekend

Rain and storms in Queensland are like no other. The 24 hour, 200+mm liquid lashing of the Gold Coast wasn’t quite what we anticipated as we headed for Sydney airport on Thursday morning. Heavy rain on Saturday, yes, but this wasn’t mere rain, it was your typical Queensland onslaught.

Queenslanders though were a happy lot on Thursday morning. Maroon everywhere. Queues of them, all proudly wearing their State of Origin outfits, some with flags draped over their shoulders, some still mumbling what sounded like Queenslander, some looking the worse for wear, but all with smiles on their happy faces. Many, I’m sure, hadn’t slept too well and a whiff of alcohol lingered around groups of inebriated males. Some found ways to sooth their physical woes in manners I’d not seen before; one guy, sitting next to us at a café at the airport, held a freezing cold soft drink bottle over his eyes. I wanted to go up and ask him what that does, but he wouldn’t have wanted such a conversation, I am sure. Despite his ailment, he looked pretty pleased with himself.

Half an hour earlier, as we alighted the train at Sydney airport, a group of males, all about early 30s, boisterously made their way up the escalator to the terminal. Nothing too unusual about them except one was wearing a pink nightie and pink slippers, and carrying a little girlie pink bag with a kiddie’s doggie head poking out. People looked away sheepishly, some nudged each other, some giggled, and others just ignored him. All fine with me. As we approached the terminal, their boys-must-be-boys’ behaviour became more noticeable, their exuberance exacerbated by their presumably previous night on the booze. Were they Queenslanders I wondered, celebrating their success, and the guy in pink carrying out some sort of bet? Or were they just a group of guys flying off somewhere for a long weekend?

Standing in the queue to board our flight to the State that Shines, and surrounded by the happy Maroons with the first Origin game under their belts, some of my waking thoughts on Thursday morning came back to me: the lengths we go to for our footy teams.

I hadn’t felt too well at all since arriving back from Melbourne last week, and despite bucket loads of Vitamin C, Echinacea, hot lemon, honey and ginger, Panadol, and a week of lying on the couch, I woke feeling no better and not wanting to go to the Gold Coast for this weekend’s game. I ummed and ahhed for a few minutes, thought of the hassle of having to see the GP, dealing with the insurance company for refunds for flights, hotel and tickets, and the fact that the weather forecast for the Gold Coast was terrible, especially for Saturday, the day of the game. I then just thought of the Swans. That latter thought and image in my mind of those blood brothers running around without red and white supporters there, did the trick. How could I not go to the footy and support them?

Then, settling into our seats on the plane, we were treated to the arrival of the boisterous ones, all nine of them, including the guy in pink. They stopped right beside us. Oh no, please don’t sit next to us, just keep moving towards the back, I muttered to myself. The thought of an hour of their macho maleness and their alcohol-smelling bodies sitting so close was not my idea of a pleasant flight. Throughout the journey they joked about the female flight attendant (wouldn’t mind her coming to the Gold Coast for the weekend!) the male flight attendant (can you just imagine him playing the game!), and when they made a derogatory comment about Queensland’s favourite son Cameron Smith, I had to assume they were New South Welshman, off to the Gold Coast for a weekend of what groups of boys do when together for their version of fun. After half an hour of loud frivolity and pretty inane comments they eagerly quaffed a few cans when the attendants came round for refreshments and when one dozed off for five minutes, they all laughed loudly and joked “that’s about all he’ll get for the next three days”.

“Are we going straight to the pub, or what?” asked one of them. It was only 1.30pm.

Or what, sounds good to me”, came a reply. Someone beat me to it!

They all laughed hysterically (it was funny) so much so that one of them had to reach for the sick bag in the pocket in front of him. Oh, please don’t vomit, please NO. The sounds that followed were as revolting as someone else’s vomiting could possibly be. Not to be outdone, his friends were so amused that they all then reached for their bags and pretended to puke, along with him. Ha Ha Ha!

Just before leaving the plane, the male flight attendant announced over the loud speaker “To the gentleman in the lovely pink dress (it was a nightie), we wish you all the best”, and everyone clapped. I asked the one closest to me on the other aisle why the pink nightie outfit, and asked whether it was a dare. No, it was a buck’s do. He said “If we manage to get to the races tomorrow, then he’ll wear a different dress for the day”. I assumed that meant they might be so drunk in 24 hours that they wouldn’t be able to go to the races. At least he’ll save money on a new frock.

As I leave the plane I wish them all a great weekend, and although their company on the flight hadn’t necessarily been the type I would choose to keep, I remind myself that we’re all different and who am I to think that my way of thinking and behaving is any better or worse than theirs. After all, I’m sure they love their mums very much, and I’m also sure that their mums just love them to bits, the boisterous burly loud-mouthed boys that they are.

We arrive at our apartment and are warned of the dangers ahead: gale force winds, record rain falls, risk of death as in last year’s floods, roads being closed, and pleas from the police to stay indoors. Surely, an overreaction? And what about the footy? It couldn’t be cancelled could it? We ventured out on Friday, and managed a 20 minute walk along the beach, the sun just managing to stay out long enough to enjoy the only half-decent thing that Surfers has to offer. The rain then started and for the remainder of the day we stayed indoors – went to a movie, and watched the footy and tennis. It bucketed down that night and all day Saturday, and again Fox Footy and tennis entertained us. We then braved it and headed off to Broadbeach on the tram to catch the shuttle bus to the game. A rousing rendition of Cheer Cheer erupted as the bus set off, only half full, but all Swans people.

People with seats on ground level in the open were allowed to sit in the stands – all 4,368 of us! I certainly needn’t have worried about not having Swans supporters to cheer on the team – more than half were in red and white, the locals choosing to stay at home in front of the tele. It was a bizarre sight, seeing so few people at a top-level AFL game; we could well have been at a Brisbane Bears match at Carrara almost 30 years ago, such was the atmosphere. At least we were sheltered for this one, and although areas of the surface were covered in water as the heavens continued to weep, at least it wasn’t the muddy quagmire that grounds were back in those days.

Swans may well be water birds but it took a while before they adapted to the slop and slosh of what was to be expected of this game. A goal to Gary Rohan was the best score we could manage in the first quarter whilst the Suns, in the last ten minutes, piled on three. How any of the players were able to execute any skills at all, let alone kick a score, amazed me. We literally couldn’t see the play on the opposite side of the ground at times, and with the ball having a definite mind of its own in such conditions, I wondered whether we might just lose this one. Too horrible a thought!

The rain worsened at the start of the second quarter, but somehow the ball found its way down to our forward line and Callum Sinclair managed a snap across his body for a goal. Jake Lloyd followed with another and then a dry-day one-handed pickup from Gary Rohan ended up in Dan Hannebery’s safe hands. Buddy wasn’t far away, marked Dan’s kick and dribbled a 20 metre goal whilst being tackled by his opponent. James Rose, playing his first game this year, gets another, and our now noticeable intensity and a bit of brilliance from Luke Parker and his 20 metre dribble goal from near the boundary lifts us to a 13 point lead at half time.

One man down, with our Georgie Hewitt on the bench with concussion, Rosa kicks the Suns next goal from a rare mistake by Heath Grundy and for much of this quarter they manage to keep play in their forward half, but can’t produce what is needed. Tackling is obviously part and parcel of wet weather footy, and tonight’s is no exception. I only heard of the numbers when seeing a replay, but watching and sometimes even hearing those tackles from the stands was something else. Towards the end of the quarter Tommy Mitchell and Keiran Jack slot through two majors and we lead by 26 points at the break. It would have been nice had some of the seven behinds been six-pointers!

The last quarter simply plays itself out. Although the rain has eased a little, the conditions are still atrocious and the players look exhausted. A second goal to Gary Rohan, a wonderfully strong double-grab mark by Isaac Heeney – resulting in a goal – and a perfect goal from the boundary line 45 metres out from Luke Parker seals a 38 point win. Not just seeing, but hearing that boot-on-ball kick from Parker was worth the entry; that wonderful, solid, cracking thump as the ball was struck. It was perfect. And I certainly didn’t hear that when watching the replay!

We board the shuttle bus back to Broadbeach and a rousing, foot-stomping rendition of Cheer Cheer erupts from the 99% of its occupants. There were lots of smiles.

A wet and wild weekend it certainly was, but a win compensated for any discomfort. The sun shone brightly on Sunday morning, and the Queensland promise of …Perfect the Next allowed us to marvel at the sea and sand that Surfers has to offer, before heading off to the airport.   Sitting on the bus I think of the boisterous boys. I have to assume that their buck’s weekend was indeed as wicked (this generation’s meaning of the word) as they had wanted, and that the buck settles down with his future wife and that they live a long and happy life laughing and joking about his glorious adventures in pink.

My highlights from the game:

All players, for just performing out there

Luke Parker’s two goals

Dan Hannebery and his brothers in the middle

Kurt Tippett

Dane Rampe

Gary Rohan

Swans fans coming from far and wide


Not a highlight: Delays (3 hrs) leaving Gold Coast airport Sunday, due to the heavy rain that had travelled south to Sydney! We were lucky though. All flights after ours had to be cancelled.

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. Keiran Croker says

    You are a trooper Jan. I’m glad I had not decided to venture north for this game.
    I managed to see snippets of the game while at my twin nephews 30th at a pub in Carlton. Given the conditions some of the skills on display were superb. Rohan, Heeney & Rose all were good with their ball handling along with Hannas & Parks!

  2. Ross Treverton says

    Forget Eddie Betts-those 2 goals from Luke Parker (both very different but equally superb) were contenders for ‘goal of the year’. But l have always been a little biased…
    Your loyalty knows no boundaries Jan; glad they gave you a win to make it all worthwhile.

    Cheer, cheer!

  3. A buck in pink
    And A knowing wink
    Together do mean
    A very happy scene
    For those swans’ supporters
    Travelling to northern waters
    Oh so deep on the footy field
    Making those goals hard to yield!
    But very well done for another victory
    To the red and whites making history !

  4. A great win in the slosh! And another great story from Jan!

  5. jan courtin says

    Thank you one and all
    I’m quite relieved that I won’t have to leave home for another interstate game until our game against Geelong on 8 July – four whole weeks in Sydney! But, on the other hand, I won’t have a travel story to tell; I might just have to utilise a bit of artistic licence!

    Yes, some of the skills from our boys were amazing Keiran, and those two goals from Lukey Parker, Ross, were definitely right up there with the best this year. A bit of poetry is always nice as a comment Jude, especially when it involves the red and white, and I’m pleased you enjoyed the story this week Marcel.

    Cheer Cheer

  6. Jan, I admire your capacity for tolerance – the dreaded lurgy, the weather, overexcited and underbrained bucks’ weekend, the weather, the strangely happy Maroon fans, and the weather. You deserved at least a win, but to add finesse in those conditions was worth the ticket(s). Well done!

  7. jan courtin says

    Thanks Don
    I simply REALLY want to go the games, rather than watching on tele, so make the effort no matter what the circumstances. However, I’m pleased that we won’t have to travel for another month, as the travel can sometimes be tiring, especially the long drives.

    Cheer Cheer

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