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Round 13 – Richmond v Sydney: Our Bloods, Our Culture


Our Bloods, Our Culture

Richmond versus Sydney
1:45pm, Saturday 17 June
MCG, Melbourne

Daniel Saunders (age 15)


Wind back the clock, to seven weeks ago, when the Blues had just shocked the Swans by 19 points. At this time, we had gone 0-6, our worst start to a season since 1993, and the worst ever by a team coming off a Grand Final.


At this point, I was willing to call it a season. It had been an absolute train wreck. Out rolled those old-as knock-knock jokes about some phantom called Owen Six.


So there we were; the only team not to register a victory, and leading the race for wooden spoon. I thought we would capitulate and register 7 wins at most, like Fremantle did last year. But the Swans aren’t like that. They are the Bloods. It is more than just a nickname. It is our culture. Since 2002, this culture has been upheld by the legends we have come to know and love; from those of the past (Goodesy, Kirky, Jude and Stuey Maxfield) to those of the current day (Joey, Hanners, Parks and Macca).


The three star symbol of the Bloods culture represent different character traits; determination, empowerment and teamwork. Players, such as 2012 hero Malceski have the three star tattoo printed on them. It has created a legacy throughout our great club.


Sounds like something very childish, doesn’t it? Wrong. In the 14 years from 2003-2016 when we have upheld this culture, we have made the finals 13 times. Not only that; but we have made four grand finals, and won two. I think it’s fair to say we have been the most consistent team.


Of course, the Swans had their struggles during this period; Barry Hall’s sad demise and exit, the career ending injuries of Craig Bolton and Leo Barry, and the persistent booing of our champion, Adam Goodes.


Our most recent hurdle has been the 0-6 start to the season. With such a strong culture, it is unlike the Swans to give up. And we never did. Since that low, we have won five of our last six. This game, against Richmond epitomised the Bloods culture.


Richmond had really pulled the plug, and their smalls were electrifying at ground level. Thanks to the dominance of Houli across the backline, fourth gamer Shai Bolton up forward, and the great Cotch in the midfield, they had a strong lead of 35 points eight minutes into the second. The Swans were unfazed. They hit back with three goals, including a Sam Reid lifter on the half-time siren. Definitely could have been better, but had Richmond kicked two or three more, it could have been a lot worse.


The third quarter is a lot better. Lloyd kicks a goal a minute in, and Heeney snaps one from fifty on his opposite peg. We lead the Tigers 12-6 for the quarter in one-on-one contest wins, with two of them resulting in goals to Luke Parker and Will Hayward. They lead inside fifties 14-5 in that quarter, meaning the Tigers could not gain consistent forward-half dominance, which has been their trademark this year.


10 minutes into the final quarter, the Tigers are up by 15 points, and look fatigued. We still have a lot of run. Perfect time to run over the top of them. And that’s when it gets crazy. The Swans are able to force a turnover, when Gary Rohan intercepts a poor kick, and Reid is allowed to pounce and slot his second. Towers then sets up Papley for another major. In the blink of an eye, the margin is three points.


Richmond do capitalise on an error of judgement, allowing a goal to Riewoldt, from 45 out in the pocket. But the Swans keep coming. Skipper Kennedy, who has been well below his usual standards, thumps one from 55 that goes a long way. It ended up carrying the last pair of hands by 5 metres. Jack then slots a banana goal to put us in front.


Richmond have one last crack. They try to get it forward to Rioli. Enter Nic Newman. He has excelled all day, and makes the game-winning spoil. Jesus, these kids are rippers!


The ‘G is silent. Kennedy gets the final clearance, allowing Gary Rohan to pounce and seal the deal. Like a soccer player out of his mind, he wheels off in celebration. Swans fans are jubilant. I cannot blame them. The siren sounds. I somehow resist the urge to cry.


I get a message from my friend Brendan. He is ecstatic. “They are always my boys!” he writes. His emotions are conveyed through the phone. “Cop that, Owen!” I respond. The Bloods culture runs strong. This is the happiest I have felt in a long time. Savour the moment, Swans fans. Drink it in and enjoy that winning feeling. May the Bloods be with you.


RICHMOND          5.3   7.6    9.7   10.11 (71)
SYDNEY                 0.4   3.5    7.6   12.8 (80)


Sydney: Reid 2, Franklin, Hewett, Lloyd, Heeney, Parker, Hayward, Papley, Kennedy, K. Jack, Rohan
Richmond: Riewoldt, Martin, Bolton 2; Cotchin, Castagna, Edwards, Lloyd

Sydney: Lloyd, Newman, Heeney, Jones, Mills, Hannebery, Reid
Richmond: Rance, Houli, Cotchin, B.Ellis, Astbury, Martin

UMPIRES:                O’Gorman, Nicholls, Williamson                                         CROWD: 58, 721

OUR VOTES: Heeney (Syd) 3, Papley (Syd) 2, Newman (Syd) 1

About Daniel Saunders

I have been an AFL fanatic and Swans supporter for most of my life, much to the dismay of those around me; they never hear the end of it! What else do you expect from New South Wales school life?


  1. Keiran Croker says

    “That Bloods culture.”

  2. Peter Warrington says

    it was a good win and certainly i am happy to concede the Swans were the better team for the majority of the afternoon, but I cannot help but feel Dunstall may have been right when he talked about it being a game of turnovers and attrition in Qs3 and 4.

    With richmond being marooned, tall-less and single rucked, and with 6 20yr old midgets all playing at the same time, the question is how good is the Swans’ form based on this game? we’ll find out in next week’s installment of “this RollerCoaster ride”…

    PS Kennedy left unmarked in range as we all went to zone. FFS… not even school footy stuff.

  3. Liahm O'Brien says

    I missed the game due to work, but as a Richmond member it’s always nice to read what others have said as opposed to being caught up in our own hubbub. Papley and Newman are two newcomers becoming on-field leaders. I think that’s what the bloods culture is as an outsider – the system isn’t going anywhere, assimilate and play your part in it by leading by example.

    Side tidbit – thoughts on Rance v Franklin? Is it this generation’s equivalent to Jakovich v Carey and Scarlett v Lloyd?

  4. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    It got crazy alright, Daniel! My heart took some time to right its beat after that one.
    You write the game movement really well. And set up the piece beautifully with your explanation of the Bloods’ three pronged star. Nothing childish about it.
    I thought Newman was superb. I wrote to Almanacker, Cats supporter and all round great bloke Peter Flynn some weeks ago saying that I thought Newman was the new Bartel. ‘Big wrap,’ he warned me. After the win last Sat, he messaged me from the UK, saying ‘Newman the New Bartel. Prescient.’
    Onwards onwards.
    Keep refining your style Daniel; I’m enjoying it.

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