To visit the Sydney Swans website click the logo below.

Round 16 – Sydney v Hawthorn: ‘Sooner of later one of us must know.’


“Sooner or later one of us must know.”


Bob Dylan sung those words back in 1966 about loss and…well who knows. Good old Bob is a specialist in cryptic meanings and has an unparalleled grip on imagery and phrasing.


But if Bob was a Swans supporter even he would struggle to find the words to sum up Saturday night’s hideous loss. The album that line comes from, “Blonde on Blonde”, has a title of weird and racy connotations that are much better than say “No-one on anyone” or “Vacant goal square revisited” or even “Why don’t you tackle #32.” No, Bob would reject those options as too direct and try to come at the matter from an oblique angle. And failed because you need applied effort and heart to make a successful song and there were none on that freezing Saturday night.


Dear God you know you’re in trouble as a writer when you’re lead off with someone else’s words. But the Footy Almanac is screeching for words of wisdom and fans on the end of a season-high thrashing are not spared the deadlines. So with that in mind that particular lyric pretty much sums up what we were looking at by three quarter time. Longmire and the playing group were over on the far side of ANZ Stadium so I couldn’t see what was going on. But I had this vivid image of thirty people staring at the turf with the occasional furtive and fearful sidelong glances at each other. Because by then it was clear that no-one had a solitary clue on how to stop The Enemy juggernaut and turn the game around.


Being on the end of a 55-point thrashing in nine degree weather is not exactly what we had signed on for. Indeed many supporters had shambled out before the bounce in the forth, eager to catch trains east to Central or west to Lidcombe; back to the warmth and elements they could control. More might have walked out earlier but Buddy’s three goals in as many minutes in the second quarter had sparked some kind of hope in our ranks. The two guys behind me were sure of it and who was I to doubt their rowdy optimism?


Up until then it had been ghastly. Lloyd and Jack had blown point blank chances to put us ahead early in the first and The Enemy’s five goal haul had sapped everyone’s enthusiasm. I was so down I couldn’t even move off my seat. That first quarter was all weak kicks, fumbles and missed opportunities. In contrast The Enemy created space and with their six unanswered goals equalled the sort of accuracy Keith Deller showed in 1983.


We were on the back foot then. Buddy’s 700’th goal was an overshadowed milestone but at least the effort was there in the second. The Swans took control. Goodes was back to his dominant best with run and strong tackles. McVeigh was leading. Tippett was leaping; too early perhaps but it was most mobile I’ve seen him in weeks. If we hadn’t of let The Enemy score two quick goals at the end it was the start of some sort of comeback. Suddenly being behind wasn’t the downer it had seemed thirty minutes ago. We’d been here before and the game wasn’t beyond redemption.


Then again we weren’t expecting the same unhinged lack of game plan that lost us the first quarter to resurface. Parker and Kierens Jack’s goals were highlights in what was otherwise a horrendously one-sided affair. The Enemy were simply too fast and we lacked the ability to get the ball safely out of the backline to stop the onslaught. Hopeless; it’s the one word I have written in my notes after the siren. When a team has over one hundred points and you are more than halfway behind there is nothing else to be said.


Those of us who stayed for the final quarter showed the sort of resilience that perhaps might earn us a spot on the team. The rain started and so did The Enemy’s goals. Straight out of the centre or from tight angles they couldn’t miss. Flashes upstairs to the coaches boxes said it all. Their postures were similar but the difference explicit; one contemplative, the other dumbstruck. It was so quiet in the stands you could hear the players directing each other. The Swans looked glued in place and, no offence, but when Shaw is your only forward option you know things have gone off the rails.


The siren went and I have never exited a game so quickly. Behind me the stadium seemed to echo with loud booing. The train ride home was mercifully quick and quiet. Even The Enemy fans seemed somewhat in shock about the win. Sleep could not come quick enough.


And even now after a long fine Sunday afternoon at the Woolwich Pier Hotel the spectre that we’ve croaked too early still looms. The even stats say one thing but timing and execution in this game are everything. Have the Swans blown not just a season defining game but maybe the season itself?


Next Sunday we face yet another top-four contender. The Eagles are flying with the Hawks and we have tough encounter over in the west.


After that everyone will know.



  1. Trucker Slim says

    Hi Tom

    That was a belting. I offer you:

    Visions of Rioli:

    Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
    We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it …
    And these visions of Rioli are now all that remain

    Cheers & go the mighty Hawks

  2. Grant Fraser says

    I pose a question which is the product of wondering “outside the tent”, so I ask one who is within. Your superior “team effort” beat mine in 2012 – yours were the boys who were all for one and one for all. Do you believe there has been an observable shift in the “team” and the way it is a sum of the parts since the inducement of your large key forwards? It seems something has changed.

  3. Tom Bally says

    Grant – something has definitely changed, confidence levels seem down. But whether its the team or the game plan I can’t exactly say. I’d rather see a return to the spread of goal kickers than this bomb it long and hope approach. Even Jetta seems off the pace and decidedly more hesitant about going for a stroll up the ground. I wonder if the trade ban is causing some internal friction too.

    Nice one Trucker. It was a great grab by Rioli. Frustrating but a great grab none the less.

  4. Have the Hawks peaked too soon?

    Trucker – I give you Geelong of 2008.

  5. Grant Fraser says

    Tell you in October Dips…

  6. Trucker Slim says

    Dips, I prefer to think of it as the Cats 2007 … but really, we’re taking it one game at a time (psst, the heart rate is building).

  7. Good one Tom. I suspect we are all playing for second, but hey I thought my Eagles were no hope of playing finals when MacKenzie went down – so what would I know?
    Buddy has never bothered us because EMac and Glass always outstrengthed him. Schofield can’t do that, so Buddy is a big worry.
    We have no match for Tippett, if he plays, but I think Kurt is well capable of doing a job on himself. I would be more worried about Sam Reid if he is thrown forward. You will have a serious height advantage up forward.
    Which means the game should be decided in the midfield. Naitanui gives us a serious head start, but Jack, Hanneberry etc murdered us over here last year. We have more midfield depth now, but that will decide the game.
    Classic 50;50 contest between an eager up and comer and a proud champ that has copped a couple lately but is too proud to go down without a fight.
    Bloods or Bondi Billionaires? West Coast contenders or pretenders? Next Sunday will tell a lot. Can’t wait.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    Tom, your Dylan reference inspires me to express my despair as Collingwood drops out of the eight with a growing injury list much as they did last year. Also from Blonde on Blonde..

    “Here I sit so patiently, waiting to find out what price
    You have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice”

  9. Good luck to you Trucker! You only need to avoid your nemesis in September: The Giants!

  10. Peter Warrington says

    you shouldn’t take it so personal.

  11. I tried harder than the Swans did on Saturday night, just to get there I had to put up with two days of going around snow road closure signs in the Central West. It was the most pathetic performance I have ever witnessed and certainly wasn’t worth my effort. I’m glad the flogging happened now and not in another grandfinal, at least I won’t be forkng out for another season ticket next year. The Bondi Billionaires are not my team anymore.

  12. Earl O'Neill says

    2012, Swans had a wonderfully balanced team. Kurt’s recruitment through it out of whack. If he’d gone to Brisbane, as rumoured, both Leppitsch and Longmire would be much happier.

  13. Keiran Croker says

    The Swans have learnt nothing from Hawks 2013. Way too much emphasis on Buddy. No Plan B. I don’t buy into the Bondi Billionaires talk. In reality we have lost a lot of experience in ROK, LRT, Bolton, Mattner, Mummy, etc. Goodesy, Teddy, Shaw all near the end. Some good kids coming through, though way below Hawks in skill level. My 2015 expectations have totally disappeared!

  14. jan courtin says

    A question to Bruce (comment above): How long have you been supporting the Swans and are you from NSW?
    Maybe you’re one of the supporters who give up after a really bad performance.
    Maybe, if you’re from NSW or Sydney, and have been used to 10 or so years of success, you can’t cope with anything but success
    Or maybe, like quite a few people who go to Sydney matches (only when we’re winning) you can’t really be classed as a true believer/follower.
    Maybe the Swans are better off without people giving up so easily on them!
    And, whilst I’m at it – Swans people do not call our team the Bondi Billionaires – this derogatory term is only used by the media and supporters from other teams!

  15. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Hmm. Nice work, Tom. The Swans looked glued in place. That about sums it.
    Seemed a game of movement, movement, movement and the contrasting effectiveness of two styles of it.

    I’m with you on staying ’til the end though. We managed to reduce ourselves to giggles over in Bay 131 for most of the last quarter. What is it they say: laugh or you might cry … Dylan must have a line about that.

  16. Jan, I am from the NSW/Victorian border and I have been a follower of the Swans since 1988. I have to go to an extreme amount of effort, time and money just to get to a Swans game, I don’t mind if they lose, but I do mind if they dont put up a fight. I dont give up easily but what I saw on Saturday night was pathetic, . I was looking forward to the game and the prospect of the contest, how could they not score a goal in the first quarter? I call them the Bondi Billionaires because they are soft. I think I will change my allegiance to my sons team the Kangaroos, while they may not have the money or the Bondi hipster look, they are not soft and they have the shinboner spirit which means they dont give up. The problem with the Swans is that they have taken Sydneys shallowness to heart, if it gets difficult you give up and go to the Beach.

  17. jan courtin says

    Hi Tom
    Great write-up, in trying circumstances. Wondering whether your “55 point thrashing” was subconscious wishful thinking!
    Cheer cheer

Leave a Comment