Round 16 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Well, it was a bit like that game last year!

I didn’t see that coming. I actually thought we could turn around our low-key performances lately against lower sides, and perhaps give this game a real shake. How wrong I was!


Instead, that mob knew how to use the ball, and we didn’t. Their kicking and ball movement was near-perfect, and ours was unbelievably bad. We seemed to have more possessions, but that counted for nothing as we botched most of them, and when we did get chances in front of the sticks, only points were added to our miserable score.


Sitting there at that least-liked ANZ Stadium – freezing like never before in Sydney – and watching the game unfold, brought back flashes of that game last September. Not a nice feeling at all! There were differences though:


* There were 37,000 Swans people compared to half that at the MCG – it didn’t help
* This home game was supposed to be an advantage – it didn’t help
* We seemed at times to actually want the ball this time round – it didn’t help
* We had more possessions – it didn’t help
* We had a similar number of forward 50 entries – it didn’t help
* It was bloody cold in Sydney compared to September in Melbourne
* Goodesy got booed by the morons in this one
* Cyril didn’t take screamers in that one
* This one didn’t cost us $600 for entry tickets; $300 for petrol and $300 for motels
* This one allowed me sleep for at least five hours, whereas that one deprived me
* This one can be followed by watching cricket and other footy games, to distract
* There was no sport after that one to help alleviate the pain
* We lost by more in this one, but the other one was more devastating
* We held them for 20 minutes during this one, kicking 4 goals to their 1 in that period
* At no stage did we dominate in September last year
* This time we didn’t have to go to the Albert Park ground to console the players the morning after, and try and celebrate our overall performance in 2014
* Since that GF I’ve developed more of a dislike for that mob


I don’t have much time for them at all to be honest. Sure, they’re a great team and one of the most successful of the modern era but I don’t have to like them. I now lump them in amongst the otherbig four as my least-liked Victorian teams. In fact they are now my number one enemy.


Their supporters haven’t helped to alleviate these sentiments either. Bit arrogant and up themselves from my experience over the years – especially these recent times.


After last year’s grand final and leaving the ground in our SWANZ wagon onto Punt Road, we had to stop at lights at the Swan Street intersection. Naturally there were hordes of people crossing, including some Hawthorn scumbags who, not happy enough with their win, decided the best way to celebrate was to rip our Swans flag from its attached timber and plastic holder being held on the window, and then throw it at the windscreen. The lights turned green so there was no time to get out and retrieve it or to confront them. Just as well maybe. I probably would’ve ended up in St Vincent’s, or been arrested for assault. The flag on the other side of the car had already been partly damaged whilst SWANZ was parked at the MCG that day, obviously inflicted by other scumbag Hawks supporters.


Had it just been an ordinary little Swans flag, handed out by the sponsors sometimes during the finals, I wouldn’t have cared too much, but it was one that I’d spent hours on – part of a pair that I’d bought earlier in the year from South Melbourne market – needing to be sewn and attached to a timber stick and then onto the plastic holder in order to allow it to cope with the high winds, and fly from the rear side window.


So, my sadness at the time, because of the terrible loss, soon blended with anger towards Hawthorn and the scumbags amongst them, and it hasn’t really left me.


The drive back to Sydney last year was as one would expect: miserable. Arriving home I felt I just had to communicate in some way to the players. I wasn’t angry with them – as many Swans supporters were at the time – I was simply gutted and at a total loss to understand what had happened. I still don’t understand. And you Hawthorn people, don’t come back saying the bleeding obvious. Of course you thrashed us that day, but from the Swans point of view, why did we allow it to happen?


Two years earlier, again driving back to Sydney was also as expected: delirious happiness. That happiness, from our 2012 flag, needed expressing – somehow, to the Club and players. In 1996 I had written a letter to the players and the Club after that loss. This time I typed up an A4 poster and had it laminated. In the middle of the night I drove to the SCG and blu-tacked it onto the front sliding glass doors of the entrance to the Club, hoping it would stay there long enough for the players to see it.


Photo 2012


It stayed there for about 10 days, until well after the parade through the city, and once the euphoria had died down, it was removed. At least I’d been able to express my love and appreciation to them all.


Arriving back in Sydney after the 2014 loss, I did the same thing, but with different wording. It only remained on the glass doors for two days.


Photo 2104


Any future signs will have to wait. These are reserved for Grand Finals and who knows whether I’ll be blessed to celebrate another in my lifetime?


We are now fourth on the ladder, equal with Hawthorn for games won, so the season has not ended. Hopefully we can show our mettle and come back, stronger than ever. That Bloods culture still exists.


Optimism and loyalty must remain first and foremost in any supporter. I am certainly reminded of this as thousands leave the ground tonight, after each Hawthorn goal – especially in the last two quarters. Even Marshall wanted to leave to get out of the cold, saying things like “We can watch the rest on tele” and “We can’t win from here” to which I snapped “Of course we can’t bloody win but we need to show our support, so I’m not leaving – I never leave!”


We left as the siren sounded, extremely relieved that we wouldn’t have to see or hear any Hawthorn supporters or their scumbags on the train back to Central. Instead, we had a large group of American high school students, decked out in red and white, with Swans painted on their faces – all quite oblivious to our devastating loss. Hopefully it wasn’t their first taste of AFL.


Walking home in Surry Hills, deep in thought about the absurdity of allowing ourselves (myself) to get so emotionally involved in 22 men we don’t even know – kicking a stupid ball around on a field of grass and trying to get it between two sticks – we are interrupted by the usual “How did St George go?” We didn’t even bother to answer. What’s the point, in this league dominated city. We were in no mood for genial conversation and the last thing we wanted to talk about was football on this cold, miserable night.


My highlights from the game:

Getting home to a warm bed


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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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