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Round 15 – Sydney v Gold Coast: Can we?


Can we? Seven weeks ago our season lay in tatters, only one win and all the expert talk was of rebuilds and how maybe time was up for Horse Longmire? My plans for September were to fertilise the lawn (actually watch my wife do it as she’s better at that type pf thing) and finally throw out all those medium size t-shirts in the bottom of my closet that I haven’t fitted into since 1998. Suddenly, I am back September dreaming!


Deep down I am a pessimist at heart. I still believe that going outside with wet hair (the 27% of hair I have left) will cause me to catch a cold. I had easily come to terms with the narrative that after a great run, our time had come to take the medicine of equalisation and spend some time propping up the ladder while the kids developed. I didn’t think we could continue to buck the trend and stay relevant on the ladder.


It is a cold, wet, windy and miserable day in Melbourne as I settle into the couch for the game, joined by Mrs D and the little cygnets Jack and Harry.


One minute into the match we lose Sinclair with a dislocated shoulder and a storm causes our TV signal to drop out. I scramble to turn on the radio and give the cygnets a lecture about how we used to listen to the radio in the ‘old days’ when they only called match of the round and we had to wait for the around the grounds update to get the score. The cygnets lose interest eight seconds into my story.


After five minutes thankfully TV coverage comes back on. It is scrappy early and the Suns are taking the game right up to us. Not again, surely? I still have vivid memories of last year when they upset us and dashed our hopes for a top four finish. Today we just need to find a way to win.


We don’t do winning easy at the Swans. It is in our DNA to play tight matches that only resolve themselves in the final few minutes. It is hard to remember many recent games where we jump to an early lead and cruise home. Perhaps it is not my DNA that has caused my receding hairline? Can I blame a lifetime of following the Swans? If I put in an invoice to Tom Harley at Swans HQ to pay for some Advance Hair Studio treatment would he stump up the cash?


The gauntlet is thrown down to Aliir Aliir who will have to ruck for most of the day. He manages to follow up his tap work and burst out of the centre square several times in the first half. It reminds me of watching a young Adam Goodes burst out of the centre in his rucking days.


As a former ruckman (if you have six hours I’ll tell you about the day I tore apart Cameron Mooney in the under 11s) I love watching the battle in the centre square. With Sinclair down and Naismith still some time away our cupboard is going to be pretty thin in the coming weeks.


The development of Dawson over the last two months has mirrored the rise of our fortunes. He appears equally at home at both ends of the ground and today he is controlling things across half-back. Mills is recklessly flying into packs with no fear and starting to recapture his form of 2016.


The Suns are not going away though. It is a scrappy first half, built around stoppages and contested footy. After a day trapped indoors my cygnets are starting to fray at the edges. It is hard to remain totally invested in the footy as I referee scuffles and turn down today’s 478th request to go outside.


The third quarter sees us hit our straps and we finally put some space between us and the Suns. The old heads Kennedy and Parker control things in the middle with the help of young Heeney and Hewett. Sam Reid is holding down the key forward post with dashes of skill thrown in by Blakey and Ronke.


Finally I can just sit back and enjoy the show as a fan as the stress of a potential loss is now clearly in the rear view mirror as we pile on the goals. I’m starting to dream. Can we get to September? If we do, could we do some damage?


My daydreaming is halted as tears are heard from the bathroom. The cygnets are at it again. I did thoroughly enjoy that four minutes of peace we had earlier in the day. I threaten to cancel next weeks trip to the MCG (for the 133rd time today) unless they settle down.


I am in the middle of coaching my first season in the under 8s for my son Jack (I am 3-6 and under the pump). Every Sunday morning without fail Jack knocks on my door at 6am (in full footy uniform and mouthguard in) asking when is it time to go to the footy. I get the impression Tom Papley does the same thing and is interrupting poor old Horse as he tucks into his Cornflakes on match day. Papley has that precious enthusiasm for a shot on goal that is childlike and brilliant to see in today’s structured football environment.


We cruise to a 42 point victory. Not a great game, but we withstood some good opposition early and ran over the top of the Suns as the game went on. A win is a win they say. Each win is vital to building the confidence of our young group.


If the rollercoaster of season 2019 has taught me anything it is that Sydney is a club that refuses to take the easy route of lying back and watching the losses pile up and wait for draft picks and better times ahead. We fight tooth and nail to remain relevant and to win at all times. This makes me proud to be a supporter.


It will be a challenge to get to September but, for the first time this year, I am genuinely starting to think we can pull it off. If we can come down south next week and take care of the Bombers then we will be in the race for September right up to our ears. We might not get there but I’m starting to get the feeling that we will give it one hell of a shake. Those medium sized t-shirts might survive the closet cull until October. Bring on those Bombers and another week of September dreaming!


This story was first published at


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About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    I’m now a grandfather of a boy about Jack’s age and confidently admit to having made most mistakes in the parenting handbook – as well as inventing a few additions. However, I was chastened to learn just how bad a parent I am/was while reading an article about children’s sport in the New York Times. We were advised that there are just two things to say to your child after the match:
    1. Did you have fun?
    2. I love watching you play.
    Apparently I was wrong with my dissection of the game (basketball, aussie rules, soccer) on the way home. Why did you miss that free throw? What were you thinking when you left your man twenty metres clear to score the winning goal? Why did you pass (shoot) when you should have shot (passed)? were the wrong things to say.
    I’d be inclined to treat your 3-6 record philosophically.

  2. craig dodson says

    Peter, don’t be too hard on yourself mate. All about the balance and I’m sure you threw in the positive as well.

    Just having a bit of fun with the 3-6, but interestingly enough it’s the kids who are first to tell me the scores during games and the win loss..not a bad thing for kids to learn how to deal with both defeat and victory.

    Thanks for reading

  3. Nice one, Craig! You just never know with our Swannies! But with no ruckman, Buddy out etc etc I’d say unlikely. Not concerned though, we’re certainly on our way! Cheer cheer

  4. Thanks Craig.
    I loved the image of Papley at the door, standing there ready to go just like your son.

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