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Round 11 – Sydney v Carlton: ‘Winning Ugly’ is fine, but percentage would be nice!

Sydney is having a cold snap. A cold snap here means temperatures below 18 degrees, and last night at the game a bitterly cold 12.7 was recorded. You southerners are no doubt scoffing, thinking ‘if only’, but it was the wretched wind that tricked us all. It felt more like Melbourne in its deepest winter, forcing us to rug up with layers of clothing, and thermoses and blankets in tow. It was bitter.


Sydney is a strange place where weather is involved. I’ve observed the patterns of its inhabitants these past 20 years, and having lived in both Melbourne and London, where the weather can be extreme, and no-one takes much notice when going about their daily lives, here in Sydney, when it’s cold or it rains, that’s it, the people revolt: they remain indoors and hibernate until the warmth and sunshine returns. It happens so often. Strange lot!


Maybe that explains why the crowd of 27,011 wasn’t far greater for this Indigenous, Doug Nicholls Round at the SCG on Friday night. So far this year we’ve seen 34,636 for our first game against Port, 34,711 against the Giants, 38,017 for the Crows, 29,124 against North and 27,481 turned up to watch us beat Freo. Fine weather reigned on all of those occasions.


And maybe, just maybe, the weather affected the Swans boys as well! Not used to such bitter conditions, our first half of footy left a bit to be desired. The stands were oohing and aahing in those first 60 minutes, wondering why we weren’t applying pressure, why we couldn’t kick straight, and why we were letting those young kids from Carlton play as well as they did. At times we looked slow, we looked out of position, and we looked just that wee bit vulnerable.


For heaven’s sake, at one stage I almost clapped when a passage of Carlton’s play resulted in a goal in the second quarter. My head was saying “great play” but fortunately my hands remained well and truly clasped under my warm leg-covering blanket. (I’ve never consciously clapped the opposition, no matter how good they may have been, and I’m not about to start now!)


Maybe our boys were given a good old coach’s blast at half time – they deserved it – because the third quarter provided plenty for us to genuinely applaud. Sincs – our heroic one and only ruckman all year – got the ball rolling, kicking our first six-pointer, followed by Buddy, who despite having two on him all night, managed his second. Carlton responded with four consecutive behinds, and in the final minutes of the quarter – the best play of the night from the Swans – further goals to Parks, Will and then Sincs (after the siren) had the red and white family cheering as the boys went into the huddle, with a 27 point lead.


Needing a percentage boost, we all wanted more of the same in the last quarter, but that wasn’t to be. The efforts of Buddy, to kick his third goal – after a knees-in-the-body incident 50 metre penalty, then Macca, kicking his 200th career goal in his 311th game, and young Will, goaling on the siren from the point post, all contributed to our eventual 30 point win. Carlton also added three goals to their score, in what could well be described as a fairly lack-lustre game.


This Friday night match – the first of the Doug Nicholls Round every season – awards the winning team the Marn Grook Trophy.


The Swans website explains that “Marn Grook is the name given to a traditional game played during a corroboree of the Djawurrung and Jardwadjali clans in Victoria’s Western District.


It is believed this game was one of the inspirations behind Australian football as it’s known today.


The traditional game was played with a ball made from possum skin, about the size of an orange, filled with pounded charcoal and/or grass.


It was bound into a hard ball with kangaroo sinews and kicked and tossed by two opposing teams of up to 50 players each.


The meaning of Marn Grook translates to ‘game ball’ and it is believed the founder of Australian football, Tom Wills, observed a game of Marn Grook in the 1840s and thought it would be a good way for Australian cricketers to keep fit during winter.”


A man of the match is also awarded. Our two Indigenous champions, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin – both rugged up and looking cold – presented the medal to Isaac Heeney. I was hoping Callum Sinclair would be the recipient, but just as happy with Heens taking out the honour.


This past week in Sydney also saw an artistic celebration of Indigenous Round, with a wonderful mural in Surry Hills – just up the road from us. Being a true Sydneysider now, it was way too cold and windy to leave the house today – Saturday – to get a snap of me beside the mural, so here’s one I took earlier in the week.



As the footy year progresses, my team is doing well. The young inductees are showing class beyond their years and learning just what it takes to play in a successful, reliable, no-nonsense Bloods side that continually strives to improve and impose. And with the ever-reliable older guys leading the way, who knows what 2018 will bring.


It’s way too soon to be getting over-excited, but, with another four points on Friday night, in a ‘winning ugly’ performance, I can say that I’m happy with our season so far. Hopefully we will improve each week.


Maybe I can be bold and hope that we can boost that all-important percentage next week against the up and coming young Saints. But then I thought that this week too, against the other cellar-dweller! One can only hope. Go Bloods!


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. Sandra Thorman says

    Great summary. The spectators were a bit thin on the ground. Weather may have been a contributing factor but I suspect freezing butts off when a win was almost a given was not very tempting. I agree the play was not great, none seemed to be putting in a good effort but in the second half Heeny was clearly the stand-out and the team looked a more cohesive outfit.

  2. Tony Courtin says

    As mentioned in our Friday night correspondence,the Swans applied next to no pressure on Carlton in the 1st half. It was not enjoyable viewing,so I tuned-into the NRL game awhile. No implicit criticism of League,as I do enjoy watching Storm,but sports-mad Melburnians would watch anything resembling a sporting contest,even lawn bowls or a turtle race! I will get to a Storm home game one day. Interested to see how many go to the G for Origin 1. Back to the south of the border/Murray version of football,it was an ugly win. Would be nice to get Reid back. Go bloods.

  3. Thanks, Sandra. Agree entirely.

    And, Tony, the Storm ahead of the Bloods?!! Of course you had them both recording on Fox, so you wouldn’t have missed any of the game. We went to Origin at the G a couple of years ago. Big, big crowd. Must admit though, I didn’t really enjoy it – totally different lot of people, and didn’t help that I was sitting amongst loud, arrogant, drunk NSW dickheads! Go Queensland!!

    More importantly, GO BLOODS!

  4. Sharryne says

    Absolutely fantastic write up again, Jan. Always accurate, honest and captivating. Cannot get enough of her book My Lifelong Love Affair With The Sydney Swans and Almanac articles on The Sydney Swans.
    Thanks Jan for always delighting me whether we win or lose. I can always relate to you.Cheer cheer

  5. Thanks again, Sharryne. Very kind words indeed. Cheer cheer

  6. Tom Bally says

    Nice write up Jan. Average first half, better second half effort along with the worst ever sledge from the Carlton supporters behind us. “Only children wave flags.” Now there’s a book title!

    Lost a chance for a % booster but Carlton were defending well in the first half. Still 4 points is better than 0 and I also got to high five Goodes and Mickey O on the way out so not a bad night overall.

  7. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    I found it hard to write about that game Jan, for all of its fogginess. Lacklustre indeed. So well done!
    I still waited til the very end just to see Micky and Adam on the turf of the Mini G again.
    Cheer cheer.

  8. Thanks Tom and Mathilde, my Swans comrades! Yes, to see Adam and Mick back at the SCG is always wonderful. Such champions of the game, to say nothing of their influence on their indigenous brothers and sisters. Long may that continue.
    Cheer cheer

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