AFL Round 11 – Sydney v Geelong: Some questions answered

Sydney v Geelong

7.10pm Thursday 29 May

Sydney Cricket Ground

The Sydney Cricket Ground is so many things that Aussie rules isn’t. From the moment you get there, it tells you that access to sport is based upon privilege. To get to the Noble stand from the front of the SCG, you have to walk three quarters of the way around the ground. Why? Because you can’t walk through the members area. And when you get there, you have to walk up four flights of stairs because the escalators are reserved for the members. And when you get there, there’s a queue of 50 people to get a beer. Just 30 metres away, there is no queue. But that is in the members area and you’re not allowed in. And when you go back to your seat they ask you to show your ticket: just to remind you who you aren’t. And there still isn’t a stand named after a listed AFL Player. Yet it’s a nice place to watch football and even the SCG Trust can’t take that away from you.

And it was nice to be there on Thursday night. It was indigenous round. That’s a fine example of how sport can open itself itself to those without privilege. Adam Goodes is an exemplar of the contribution that indigenous footballers had made to the Australian game and sport in general. Goodsey’s mum had designed the guernseys which was touching. But there were still some difficult questions that remained about the treatment of the first Australians; issues that refused to go away.

There were a few difficult questions that remained about his team too. It had been a quiet start to the year and the commentators had been into Buddy Franklin and where he would fit into the team. We had just beaten the Hawks but they weren’t anywhere near full strength by the end of the game. The Swans were almost at full strength but then the Cats weren’t far off and they had the wood on us. And the Cats never give in. You don’t get to win that many premierships if you’re weak of character.

The Swans burst out in the first quarter with Tippett key up front and the midfield and back line squeezing the life out of the Cats. And then Goodes and Buddy got into the game and by the end of the half, Geelong had one goal and it was all over. The crowd sat shocked but the Cats never did come back and by the third quarter my daughter was playing on her iPad. By the end of the fourth, the only question was whether the Swans would win by a hundred points or more. Which, with a bit of luck, they did.

So what could you say of the game? Perhaps the Cats were ageing or perhaps they just had a bad night. The boys of our first nation played out of their skins but then so did the rest. But either way, the Swans looked like a very fast moving steam roller and seem only to be getting better. They didn’t seem to have a bad player. And the doubters who were waiting for Buddy to destroy the team were speaking very quietly now.

I suppose Sydney doesn’t do sport that well. We get one featureless stadium in the middle of nowhere and another that the SCG Trust seems to wish we didn’t use. But on Thursday night, the Swans played very, very well in front of a lot of their fans. And that made up for a lot.

Sport can make up for a lot but it doesn’t make up for everything. And the Swans played very well but they have still a long way to go. As do we.

SYDNEY SWANS 4.4 8.9 14.11 22.16 (148)
GEELONG CATS 0.3 1.3 2.4 5.8 (38)

Sydney Swans: Tippett 5, Franklin 4, Goodes 3, Jack, Derickx, Hannebery 2, Bird, Lloyd, McGlynn, Jetta
Geelong Cats: Hawkins 3, Simpson, Johnson

Sydney Swans: Tippett, Malceski, Shaw, Goodes, Hannebury
Geelong Cats: Stokes, Johnson, Selwood

Our votes Tippett, Shaw, Hannebury

Umpires: Fisher, Nicholls, Ryan Crowd: 37,355

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