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Round 16 – Sydney v Gold Coast: Finding balance on the tightrope

I settle into the couch next to my scallywags, Jack (aged 5) and Harry (aged 2), who are both in Bulldogs Jumpers, as we await the first bounce. How did it come to this? My own flesh and blood! In my defence, 94% of houses in the western suburbs of Melbourne are still flying Bulldogs premiership flags from their chimneys. Regrettably I can’t afford real estate in South Melbourne. I haven’t given up on the scallywags yet. Much like the Swans 2017 season, there is still hope of glory ahead.


Kids like winners. I’m told as a five-year-old I went for the Hawks for a month following the 1983 Grand Final – I’ve scrubbed hard in the shower every day for the last 34 years, however, I still feel dirty. As an aspiring ruckman I was seduced by the majestic tap work of Simon Madden and followed the Bombers for a period, but thankfully jumped ship 28 years before Stephen Dank came to town.


Dad says he used to follow the Blues as a young bloke in the 60s, before settling on the Swans. Mind you, in those days you could also bring two slabs per person into the MCG. Mrs D tells me she never really had a team growing up. I don’t believe in prenuptial agreements, however, I did add an appendix to our marriage certificate, requiring Mrs D to become a Swan. She has been abiding some of the scallywags Bulldogs tendencies of late, so I may need to have a chat with my legal team.


At some point we all grow up and settle on our tribe. A skinny kid with a mullet from my home town of Wagga Wagga called Paul Kelly came along and back into the Swans fold I came as a teenager. How could you not side with Paul Kelly. It was pretty hard to concentrate on HSC Maths exams as Kel, Plugger and the gang charged into the finals in 1996. The Swans were now my team for the next 70 years (fingers crossed) win, lose or draw.


If Jack doesn’t jump back on board the Swans those professional baby photos I had done when he was three months old, dressed in red and white from head to toe, are going to have to be taken down from the master bedroom and placed in the shed. Perhaps I could get them re-touched?


We MUST win today. No excuses. We have placed ourselves on a tightrope given our start to the year. Just get in and get the four points and then go home lads.


Gold Coast put in a nomination for worst jumper in AFL history. The poor chaps look like extras from a Star Trek movie.


Buddy wheels onto the left and slots our first. Cue high-fives with the scallywags. The scallywags like Buddy. Thankfully for them given Buddy’s current contract, he will still be playing when they are about to graduate from University.


Macca stubs his toe and gives away an early one. Lynch is plucking everything and the Suns look good. We are slow and sloppy. Not quite Bernard Tomic-esque, however, we don’t look to have our mind on the job. I wouldn’t want to be first to the quarter-time huddle.


Focus resumed, we dominate the second quarter. Six unanswered goals and we have winners all over the ground. Towers is playing one of his best games. Kieren Jack must have visited the Vatican to get the dodgy hip of his looked at a few weeks back – he is now running on top of the ground like a 21-year-old. Harry asks, ‘are WE winning Dad?’. I told you there was still hope.


Mrs D’s sausage rolls are the eighth wonder of the world. The scallywags and I tuck in with gusto at the half-time break.


More of the same in the third quarter. Rohan is clean with hands and moves like an Olympic sprinter. Grundy is a throw-back to a bygone era – grab hold of a jumper, punch to the boundary line and boot it long. I identify with Grundy. Hewett is starting to look like he belongs. Ten unanswered goals and the will of the Suns has been broken.


I’m running a bath for the scallywags as the three-quarter time siren sounds. It is a relief to be able to cruise through a game, given the manic intensity of the finishes of recent weeks. I can just sit back and watch the last quarter, without a care in the world.


I focus on watching the young blokes like Melican, Newman, Robinson and Naismith. There are pleasing signs. The intensity is long out of the game, yet they are still cracking in. You don’t get a game for the Swans unless you earn it, and how these blokes progress over the remainder of season will play a large role in determining our fate.


I begin to daydream. What would it be like if we won it all from here? They would write books about it. I would write a book about it! We have now won five straight. A quick calculation tells me that we would ONLY need to win another 10 on the trot to claim the premiership. STOP. I may be getting a tad ahead of myself.


The scallywags return from the tub as the final siren sounds. I encourage them to join me in a rendition of ‘cheer cheer the red and the white’. They don’t sing it with gusto, yet I’m taking it as a win.


Unprompted, Jack proclaims ‘I still go for the Bulldogs Daddy, but Buddy and Kieren are still my friends.’ The best news I have heard all day. I’m not handing over the scallywags to the Bulldogs just yet! I’m also not handing over the Premiership Cup for season 2017 by a long stretch. Our last two months have been brilliant. We are still on the tightrope, however, are sure of foot. Bring on those Giants.

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. Not good enough, Craig! You can’t possibly let your boys continue in this fashion!

    If they want success, then this isn’t the year of the Dog, so get their red and white guernseys out and talk some sense into them!

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Nice read Craig. Keep up the good fight with the boys. I thought the time honoured rule was you must decide on your team by age 10. I dallied with the Cats and Tigers during primary school years due to some external pressures. Glad I stayed the course with the Swans!

  3. Tom Bally says

    Great read Craig. It’s all rebellion and deep down the boys are just chomping at the bit to put on the red and white. You’re a patient bloke, reckon my dad would’ve left me on the side of the A12 had I shown any sign of going for Norwich City.

  4. craig dodson says

    Don’t worry I’m working on a long term strategy to have them locked away by the time they start high school!

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