Round 13 – Sydney v Richmond: Swans: Where did you go for 60 minutes on Friday night?

The platform was set for a wonderful night of celebration. Dan Hannebery had just been re-signed – to remain a Swan until 2021 – and our all-conquering heroes of 2005 were here at the SCG to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of that glorious ’05 premiership.


Unfortunately, though, our 2015 players spoilt the party and did not live up to their predecessors’ heroics. They disgraced themselves for two quarters and allowed Richmond to play some of their best footy of the year.


I, on the other hand, allow myself to get so emotionally tied-up with our performances that objectivity is not something that comes easily – especially when we lose. I don’t like night games after a loss. I can’t get to sleep, and when I do, I wake easily and re-live the wretched thing over and over, with the enemy’s song still ringing in my ears; I wonder how the players are coping and I even dream about the game. When I wake I am depressed. From experience, I know that it usually takes about 24 hours before I can be pleasant. What a miserable sod I can be!


So, any thoughts on the actual game can wait until later. And they will be minimal. Fortunately I wrote this short tale about an earlier Richmond experience before tonight’s game, otherwise I would not have been in any frame of mind to talk about the yellow and black.


I find it almost impossible to believe when people tell me that they remember the town, city or country they have visited by the gastronomic delicacies they have consumed there. I have heard this said many times. But then, how would I know? I am vegetarian and only like plain old veggies, with bits of protein thrown in. I hate garlic, onions and spices. My favourite food is ice cream. I am, indeed, a boring person to take anywhere when food is involved.


Maybe the foodies of the world would find it hard to believe that I have a tendency to remember events in my life by how the Swans have played and where that particular game took place. Not all mind you, but enough to remember the more important ones over the years – events and games.


It was May 1978. We had been back in Australia nearly 18 months and, living in Brisbane, rarely got to see a Swans match, live or otherwise. Channel 7 in those days showed one game on a Saturday afternoon and it was never our team, so I’d phone the various RSL clubs at Tweed Heads to see if the Swans games were showing on the NSW channels. We drove to Tweed many times over the years.


We flew or drove to Sydney, and occasionally Melbourne when we could, but working full time and with limited budget, it was difficult to attend as many matches as I would have liked.


On May the 13th, 1978, my baby sister was getting married. No church was involved – just a simple hippie 70s celebrant wedding in Mum’s garden, in Melbourne.


We arranged for a few days off work and headed down south in our brightly coloured yellowCommer campervan that we’d shipped over from England. The Queensland University gave us a choice of either furniture or a car when indicating what they would cover in costs for Marshall’s employment deal. Our furniture in London – living in a communal shared house at the time – was second hand from the Op shops, so the Commer, fully fitted out, was the choice.


The van was one of the first Commer campervans manufactured in the late 50’s and although it was about 17 years old when we bought it, the mileage was low and the one owner had kept it in immaculate condition. It was two-tone, of a dull greyish/green hue, and blended well with the English and European landscapes and skies on the many trips it did whilst I was in living in London for eight years. However, it looked out of place in the Queensland sunshine, so we had it sprayed a beautiful vibrant yellow.


In the days when windscreen protectors were the fashion (thankfully there is no black in sight!)

In the days when windscreen protectors were the fashion (thankfully there is no black in sight!)



On the 10th of May 1978 we headed off to Melbourne for my sister’s wedding, in our much loved van. The Newell Highway was our route of choice.


Since hearing of my sister’s commitment to her man, I had secretly been thinking and planning some way of including footy into the weekend. As all games in those days were on the Saturday, my main thought was “Why can’t she get married on a Sunday?” I didn’t think it at all appropriate to ask her to change the day, even though I was her older sister, and at times over the years when we were kids, had been seen as a second mum to the youngsters in the tribe. Not at all appropriate!


It was 1.00pm on the Saturday of the wedding and we were in Punt Road, having taken a slight detour coming off the Hume Highway. “Why don’t we drop by the MCG?” I sheepishly said to Marshall. He certainly wouldn’t have known we were playing Richmond that day, starting at 2pm, so his obvious response was “But doesn’t the wedding start at 3pm?”.


We parked at the G, won a great game 19.11 to 14.14 and arrived at Mum’s house just in time for the party at about 6pm. We apologised to everyone for being late. The married couple lived happily not quite ever after, had two kids, then divorced. The Commer died several years later in Melbourne. And, many years later I profusely apologised to my baby sister and owned-up to my secret plan. She says she has forgiven me, but have I forgiven myself?


I will always associate that wedding trip with Richmond, our opponents tonight. That one certainly stands out. The Tigers have been impressive lately and I haven’t forgotten last year’s loss to them and the terrible defeat by 29 points at the MCG in 2012. They often play well against us, and all week I’ve had one of those strong gut-feelings that there will be an upset and that they will win this one tonight.


How right I was. Our first half was OK, especially the second quarter, and Gazza was in fine form. The mids were doing as expected, our pressure and tackling was Swans-like and we were up by five goals. It looked routine and I wondered about my gut feeling. Then, we just went to sleep and they were rampant. Did we allow them in or did they play so well as to prevent us from competing? Swans people will say the former, but maybe it’s a mixture of both. Whatever it was, it was far from enjoyable, and sad that our players couldn’t perform for four quarters in front of their 2005 Blood brothers, and retain that all important second position on the ladder.


A so-called honourable loss is acceptable and all teams including us, Freo and Hawthorn have had those this year. However, our capitulation in the second half tonight was just not as we expect from our team and was therefore extremely disappointing.


Hopefully, though, we can put in a four quarter effort next week, even if we’re without our two big guys up forward – assuming they get suspended – and get back to playing true Bloods footy.


My highlights from the game:


Seeing our 2005 champions do their lap of honour


The little six year old Richmond kid sitting next to us – with his Freo supporting Dad – showing all the emotions that I imagine I would have shown about South at that age. He was so sweet and forthcoming in his chatter that I was actually happy for him when the siren went. Well, I’m not sure the word happy would describe it, but I was aware of his happiness and gave him a gentle pat on his yellow and black clad head as he jumped up and down to the playing of their song.


If only it had been Cheer Cheer!


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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.

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