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Round 13 – Sydney v Melbourne: The weather gods and Craig Joubert have their say

The footy and weather gods obviously conspired, yet again, to give us rain. Thank you gods, but I think the Swans have had enough liquid sunshine for a while.


The Sydney forecast all week was for heavy rain on Sunday, similar, but not as bad as that in Queensland two weeks ago for our game against the Suns. The Bureau of Meteorology was spot on. Almost. It was supposed to arrive the day before the game this week and worsen Sunday but it saved its downpour until two hours before the ball was bounced. And the following day would give us sunshine, as it did in Queensland. Thanks again.


We needed this game to be played in sunny dry conditions; to be played in conditions that would ensure a slick polished performance to make up for our dismal display last week against those uppity little Giants. And we need percentage, to keep up with Geelong at the top of the ladder. But the gods thought otherwise. They conspired to keep us down.


Before setting off for our day of fun in the rain, I spent the morning watching the recorded Wallabies v England Rugby Test. This is what I learned.


Melbourne’s AAMI Park has a worse playing surface than the wretched ANZ Stadium in Sydney. How the experts could not have known that those hulking brutes of men in their scrums would not cause havoc to the turf, beggars belief.


Havoc it did cause and humour it created. Not long before half time, with countless scrums collapsing under the 2,000 kilos of male testosterone divot-inducing weight, the South African ref Craig Joubert decided it was time to involve the lads in one of his headmaster-type chats.


The Pommy captain stands to the right, bent forward hands on knees; Stephen Moore the Aussie equivalent stands to the left, his glistening bald head shining above a bandage attached around his forehead; the headmaster stands in the middle.


Headmaster: “I’m seeing what’s happening to the pitch when you’re scrumming”.


Aussie: “Yeah”.


Headmaster: “I’ve got an enormous amount of sympathy for you guys having to scrum on a pitch that is quite tough. We’re going to do our best. I’m going to try to play away when it’s possible”. (Don’t know what that means)


Aussie: “Yeah”.


Headmaster: “But you guys need to help me with stability and height”.


Aussie: “Sure”.


Headmaster: “Do you reckon we can make that work?”


Aussie: “Yeah. Thanks”.


All the while the Pommy bastard says nothing, hands still on knees, eyes to the ground.


One of the commentators jokingly says: “In one ear and out the other!”


Ten minutes later:


Headmaster, slightly angry: “There’s a lot of niggle and pushing , is that what you want?”


Aussie: “No”.


Headmaster: “Do you want to take some leadership here and get that c..t stuff out of the game?”


Aussie: “Yeah”.


Pommy bastard: Not a word!


I’ve replayed that last headmaster statement about ten times, and I swear to god that’s what he said. Maybe I didn’t quite get the South African accent, but I’m convinced that he said that word! I’ve looked through all media reports of the game and not one mention of it. Surely there would have been outrage, but nothing.


If anyone else heard the conversation, please enlighten me.


Can you just imagine for one minute Razor Ray and his gang of umpires having such a chat with players of our game?!


Those Union boys simply listen politely when spoken to – as no doubt they’ve done since Grade 1 at their posh schools – and the headmaster don’t be a naughty boy approach is taken in their stride. I find it quite funny.


There wasn’t much fun at our game on Sunday though, for the players or the supporters. Many of the seats out in the open were empty and the non-diehards had decided to stay in front of the box. Why on earth would they, I think to myself.


As expected, stoppages, tackling and man on man grind is the order of play once the ball is bounced. Petracca kicks Melbourne’s one and only goal for the quarter and Joey Kennedy and Dean Towers manage two for us. Towers’ impact around the ground and Jarrad McVeigh’s impeccable use of the slippery ball – one-handed pick ups and effortless manoeuvrings around players – are the stand out performances for the quarter.


With a lead of 11 points at the break, Jarrad continues his excellent wet weather antics, resulting in a goal to our replacement ruckman Toby Nankervis. Melbourne kicks its only goal for the second quarter after a dropped sitter by Tommy Mitchell ends up in their goal square. Although the stoppages seem slightly fewer this term, the rain still pelts down, making it impossible at times to see play on the other side of the ground. Buddy, however, is impossible to miss, and his 750th career goal brings an extra cheer, and Joey Kennedy’s physical prowess is adding to our ascendancy. 17 points is not much, but its value seems double that in these conditions.


The third quarter starts with Keiran Jack missing a so-called easy shot from 15 metres out, but man of the moment Jarrad makes up for any disappointment with another one-handed pickup and accurate kick to Buddy, for another goal. The next forage into our forward line would have been funny, had it not been so serious – well serious if it’d been a goal-winning scenario in a Grand Final! Benny McGlynn had kicked the ball from the 50 metre line and a Melbourne player punched it clear, but towards our goal. Tommy Mitchell and James Rose – having a good return to the Seniors again this week – then ran after the ball as it rolled towards the goal line. James went to kick it through but Tommy’s foot got in the way and the stuff up resulted. Surely they were aware of each other? Petracca then kicks Melbourne’s mandatory goal-a-quarter, and when Keiran’s pass to Buddy gives us another six points, our lead has extended to 25 – despite our dismal kicking of 6.12.


More of the same – a slog in the now-heavier rain – is expected in the final term. Our percentage won’t have increased much by three quarter time and apparently I’m making negative comments, like I really don’t like this game, and Why the hell can’t we kick more goals, and Why do we always have to play in the wet. Very boring comments. I should be praising the players for their amazing efforts in such horrendous conditions. I am just about to, when, completely out of the blue, everything changes. It’s almost as if the rain has stopped and the sun is shining.


The following seven or eight minutes are a sight to behold.


Buddy gets a free – goal!


A clearance from the centre, a quick handpass from Joey to Towers, snap – goal!


Another centre clearance, Towers involved again, to James Rose, to Gary Rohan to Georgie Hewitt, 25 metres out – goal!


Buddy to Towers to Benny McGlynn – goal!


Jarrad to Callum Mills to Benny, mark – goal!


We’d gone from 6.12 to 11.14 in under ten minutes! No, the rain hasn’t stopped, it’s absolutely pelting down, and I’m now thanking the weather gods. Not long later Jake Lloyd adds to our tally with another goal from a free to Buddy. Hoping to keep Melbourne goalless for the quarter, they do manage one just before the siren, perhaps preventing us from going ahead of Geelong on percentage, to the top of the ladder. However, I’ll take a 55 point win in the atrocious conditions any day of the week! And I thank the weather gods again.


My highlights for the game:


Our record-breaking number of tackles: 155 (the weather helped!)
Jarrad McVeigh for his best on ground performance
Lance Franklin for his four goals
Dean Towers
Josh Kennedy
Dan Hannebery
Luke Parker
Zac Jones
Heath Grundy for reaching the 200 game milestone
and James Rose and Alir Alir for much improved promise


The little kid playing wet weather footy in Auskick. He was the height of my leg – which isn’t that high, and when given the ball to try for a goal one metre out directly in front, he raised his arms to fully stretched, held the ball in a horizontal position for about a minute, then dropped it straight onto his foot and through for a behind! He was shattered!

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. jan courtin says

    Have asked a couple of people to listen to the Union commentary and I think it was:
    “Do you want to take some leadership here and get that kinda stuff out of the game?” Not the nasty c word!

  2. I’m sure the Rugby Union headmaster cum referee wouldn’t use such language, Jan!
    What a great win for our Swannies, in horrible conditions. They must have spent a lot of time in the pool, to handle that wet!

  3. When referee micoriaphones were first introduced to the bum sniffing, you could actually hear players saying “Yes, Sir” to these little lectures. Hilarious. I think international rugger is good stuff, bit like trench warfare at times, without the guns. But the Wobblies seem unable to muster much je ne sais quois of late, although playing on a sandy beach must make it difficult. Same for both teams. And where do the Poms get those blokes who have 6 inch legs, no neck and a body shape wider than it is high? Out of the coal pits? At least we can claim they have an Aussie coach, for what that’s worth!

  4. Thanks for your vivid journalism Jan. A wonderful sight to witness.

    Mrs and I sat in the warmth and dryth of the Riser, with a scrumptious lunch (I really like pub food) and footy for dessert.

  5. jan courtin says

    Thanks Marcel and Bucko
    I’m not a Rugby follower but do watch the international games, especially when they involve the Poms, so I haven’t been that aware of the ‘yes, sir’ mentality – until I actually listened to Saturday night’s one.

    cheer cheer

  6. jan courtin says

    Sorry Don that you weren’t included in the thank you above. You comment wasn’t actually showing at the time I posted mine.

    Anyway, thanks! I’m sure that the lunch and dessert were enjoyed far more in a dry, welcoming environment than sitting at the SCG. And, when watching the replay later I realised that viewing the game on tele allowed the viewer to see what was actually happening – it was really difficult at the game.

    I’m not too sure what you mean by vivid journalism, but assume it was to do with the language from the ref! Fortunately I cleared that up.

    Cheer cheer

  7. No Jan, not the Seth Efrican ref, your storytelling!

  8. jan courtin says

    That’s very kind of you Don. Many thanks
    Go the Bloods!

  9. Keiran Croker says

    I’m thinking of nominating some Swannies for the 1500m freestyle at Rio.

    Not sure what has happened to our AAMI Stadium surface. It is a beautiful surface for A League soccer. It’s a while since I have been there for either League or Union, though generally it is excellent. It does have a thick sand layer to aid drainage. Not good for hulking Poms though!

    Our Cygnets continue to impress. Agree that Rosey and Allir (does he have a nick name yet) looked comfortable at the top level.

  10. jan courtin says

    I haven’t heard a nickname Keiran – maybe he’ll always just be known as Alir Alir. He looked very confident in this game, despite the weather, so let’s hope he’ll keep improving. The Club must be happy, extending his contract for a couple of years. I like Rosey, he really has a go! I think Zac Jones has improved enormously this past month but I was a little surprised that Harry Cunningham was dropped. I hope he gets back in soon as I really like him, and he’s so quick.

    Let’s hope our performance against the Doggies in our next game is far better than last year’s performance at the SCG!

    Thanks Keiran
    Cheer Cheer

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