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Round 15 – Sydney v Gold Coast: Mea Culpa! Mea Culpa!

Not sure why I need forgiveness, mind you, but it certainly feels as if I need the sign of the cross waved over my entire body, by someone who administers that all important fear–removing absolution. (Catholic guilt stays deep!)

I woke this morning, the day of the game, with an overwhelming sense of guilt. I wasn’t in Sydney, or anywhere near it, but still in Melbourne, realising I would be missing my first game at the SCG in 20 years, and my first game (apart from Perth) in 10 years.

Now, sitting amongst Bloods people at a packed Rising Sun Hotel in South Melbourne, waiting for the game to start, I’m still feeling uneasy. It just doesn’t feel right.

Why am I not there, high up in the O’Reilly Stand, doing what I’ve been doing at the footy since moving to Sydney at the beginning of 1999? I could offer a hundred excuses, but I don’t really need to. After all, who is going to miss me? Certainly not the Club, not the players, not the supporters, no–one really. They wouldn’t know whether I’m there or not! More to the point, it’s me missing them. Missing the closeness of the players, missing the atmosphere, missing the highs and the lows, missing the celebrations, missing the song after the siren, missing the memories as I walk back to Surry Hills or Central. Simply missing the experience of being another voice in supporting my team.

But it won’t be happening today.

The tables, upstairs and downstairs at the pub, are full. Red and white is prominent, and expectation is ripe. We expect a win today.

Fielding our youngest team since 1997, our cause is not helped by the injury to Callum Sinclair, our mainstay in the ruck these past 12 months. He goes off within a minute, to the sighs of all around me. Not another injury! This first quarter is a lacklustre and error–riddled affair, and one goal separates the teams at quarter time.

With Sinclair coming back during the first term, only to dislocated his shoulder yet again not long later and be taken back into the medical rooms, we’re now a man down. Aliir Aliir is rucking and Tommy McCartin has been moved to the backline. It’s good to see Ben Ronke back after a few months in the NEAFL. He rewards us with his first goal for the match, and is involved again, combining with James Rose and Sam Reid, for another, not long later. The scores are level after Day goals for the Suns – the result of a Jonesy (that heart–in–the–mouth player whenever he has the ball) mistake and a 50 metre penalty. Another goal to them and they lead by seven points. This isn’t supposed to be happening and the oohs and aahs in the room reflect my fears that this could turn out like last year’s debacle! When Aliir Allir, now in the forward pocket, marks and kicks his first SCG goal, 10 metres out, on the boundary line, there is an almighty celebration in the room. And another when Jonesy makes amends, marks and kicks beautifully on the run 45 metres from goal. We lead by four points at the main break.

Ordering at the bar, I get a tap on the shoulder. “Is this a twin of Jan Courtin?” I hear. “It’s Ross”, he says. “Of course it’s Ross, of course I know you”, I reply. Ross Treverton, a long–time Bloods supporter from the South days, who writes occasionally for the Footy Almanac. His first piece told of him wearing his red and white socks under his police uniform at a game at the MCG, and of his passion for our beloved team. It was a wonderful story. He also told me about his grandmother, an avid, passionate South Melbourne woman. She died aged 107 and left some pretty amazing South memorabilia, a lot of which is now at the headquarters in Sydney and at the Rising Sun Hotel, amongst other special places. We chat for a few more minutes and I tell him I’ll see him at three quarter time.

As I walk back to my table, where Marshall, my brother, his two sons, and two of my sisters are enjoying dinner and a beer, I am tapped on the shoulder again. This time by a couple, Don and Anne Meadows, who are Melburnians, moved to Sydney in the mid 90’s, started following the Swans, then relocated to the Central Coast in NSW. They’d read my book and recognised me at a few Melbourne games in the past. It was lovely to have a chat in a different red and white environment.

Back to the footy. We certainly start off well. Rose, Ronke, Heeney and Kennedy combine for a superb goal, and then the impressive Jordan Dawson and his lime–green boots sidestep his opponent and he calmly kicks pin–perfect to Paps. Quiet for most of the day, he marks and goals from 35 metres on an angle. Our lead is reduced to 11 points before Ronke gets another. A further goal to Blakey sees us 23 points ahead at the break.

I wander back to Ross’s table, where Tony, my brother, has also gravitated. We spend the last quarter, cheering and celebrating. Paps, now off the leash, is having an influence and kicks his second. We’re playing with more freedom, and with Isaac also coming into his own, our game is finally allowed to flow. However, relatively easy shots on goal are missed by Will (twice) and Isaac, but amends are made as they both add six–pointers not long later– the latter an accumulation of brilliant passes from Rose, Blakey, Papley, Blakey again, and Jones. When the siren sounds, our lead has blown out to a very respectable 42 point win.

I get to sing the song, surrounded by happy Swans supporters, far away from the SCG, but at the very best alternative place: in South Melbourne, our spiritual home, not far from our original ground, the Lake Oval. The memories come flooding back, and despite not being in Sydney on this occasion, I think I’ve forgiven myself and can look forward to our next game without any guilt!

Go the Mighty Bloods!


SYDNEY         3.3    6.3   10.6   14.9 (93)
GOLD COAST  2.3    5.5    6.7    7.9 (51)


Sydney: Reid 2, Blakey 2, Ronke 2, Papley 2, Heeney 2, Jones, Aliir, Kennedy, Hayward
Gold Coast: MacPherson 2, Wright, Sexton, Scheer, Day, Miles


Sydney: Dawson, Parker, Rampe, Hewett, Kennedy, Heeney
Gold Coast: Harbrow, Swallow, Miles, Hanley, MacPherson, Scheer


Sydney: Callum Sinclair (shoulder)
Gold Coast: O’Riordan (head)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Meredith, Findley, Dore


Official crowd: 26,194 at the SCG




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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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.


  1. Lynn Nadjarian says

    Such a great vibe after this win
    I love your articles, so much better than anything published in the SMH. Feeling the passion n love, but also the knowledgeable analysis! Go the Swans.

    Thank you

  2. Debby Ross says

    The Rising Sun! Wow my darling husband and I would meet up there in the 80’s with old south friends – Tim McMahon etc – I of course still Belonged to the Tigers and Ray to the bombers – ?
    But it was just fabulous – if I go back there I will be very emotional..
    Beautifully written Jan – will you be at the pre match function this week / I’ll be meeting Rhonda Carson !! ?? And hope to see you again too !

  3. It’s great having the sister back in Melbourne and Marsh too of course. I reckon you’re slotting right back into the South groove here Jan! Soon it’ll be like you never left. You’re, your new home. about equidistant between lake oval your beloved foreshore and the Riser! Who needs to travel? Go bloods. Jude

  4. Lynn Baker says

    Well Jan I miss you for your first visit at the Rising Sun this week as I was at the game at the SCG for our win over the Suns . Like you I love being at the SCG to cheer on our Bloods . But go every week to the Riser when we are not playing in Melbourne . Love cheering on our boys at the Riser with our South supporters – such a great atmosphere ! Hope to see you at the Riser to have a chat when you are next there . We usually go upstairs to watch the game .
    Hope you are feeling much better .
    Cheer Cheer ,
    Lynn Baker ??????

  5. Tom Bally says

    Well Jan you were missed by some of us in the O’Reilly! Looked eerily empty up there on the back row and when we started stuffing up in the first half I immediately thought our good luck charm is in Melbourne. Anyway hope you and Marshall are OK. One day I will make it to the Rising Sun.

  6. Thanks one and all!
    Lynn Nadjarian: Very kind words! Cheer cheer
    Debby: I’m sure we can get together at the Riser sometime! Cheer cheer
    Jude: Thanks dear sister!
    Lynn Baker: Hopefully will catch up for our Game against Freo, in Perth. Cheer cheer
    Tom: You noticed! See you in Sydney soon. Cheer cheer

  7. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,was great to share your first Rising Sun game. Not quite the real thing,nonetheless,a fantastic venue to ride the bumps with like-minded diehards,and so much easier accessing refreshments and toilets! The standard of the game fell well short of stratospheric,but,a win’s a win. Go bloods.

  8. Thanks Tony. Hope you’re able to see some televised games whilst travelling WA. Cheer cheer

  9. Julie Cattlin says

    Jan dear, I realise the Rising Sun isn’t like being at the game. But it did sound like lots of fun to me – lots of family and friends watching together, and of course celebrating the great win.

    Perhaps you may not go to every game in Sydney now you’re living in Melbourne. Oops!! Have I just said something ‘sacrilegious’!!! Maybe, though, when you’re 100 you may decide not to travel as much.

    Another great piece of writing!

    Love Julie xxx

  10. Ross Treverton says

    Fantastic to see you again Jan and meet more of the Courtin clan. There is nothing quite like enjoying a Swans victory with some like minded souls at the Rising Sun. I don’t think l’ve ever seen anyone concentrate on the game quite as much as you do Jan! Every kick, handball and passage of play goes into the memory bank and results in the classic match reports we all look forward to each week! If the coaches have as good an understanding of each of our boys as you do, then the team is in good hands. Cheer, cheer!

  11. Hi Julie and Ross. Many thanks

    Julie: “Sacrilegious” YES! And I’m planning to still be going to games until I drop – maybe that could be after the final siren of a grand final, while singing Cheer Cheer!!!

    Ross: You are too kind with your words! You once said, way back, “If there’s a person I’d like to be standing next to at a Swans Grand Final, apart from my Dad, it would be Jan Courtin”! Reciprocal! Cheer cheer

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