Round 16 – Sydney v West Coast: An unfamiliar day at the footy


Sydney v West Coast

1:10pm, Sunday July 4

Kardinia Park



The Swans simply don’t ‘do’ 92 point wins in a canter. It is not in our DNA of the last 20 years. Our brand is teeth chattering, headache inducing, knot-in-the-stomach style, 72 to 67 style wins (or losses) where the game is always in the balance and euphoria or disaster only comes at the final siren. Sunday was an unfamiliar day at the footy on so many levels, much like the last 18 months in our new Covid-19 world.


Like a young labrador who just wants to stick their head out the window and feel the breeze, I bounded out of Lindsay Street, Macleod and into the pale blue Camry, simply excited at the prospect of a car trip to Geelong – a simple pleasure in the mundane days that have been a feature of these times. Since March 2020, I’ve spent the grand total of five days at the office, attended two games of AFL footy, and can tell you in excruciating detail about the paint fragments of every square inch of the walls at of my house. A day out is the simplest of pleasures and looked forward to with the enthusiasm of a seven year old on Christmas eve.


Mrs D, the scallywags and I enjoyed a pleasant 80 minute drive down to Geelong. With the scallywags distracted by the DVD player, Mrs D and I chat pleasantly for the duration. In the hectic pace of home-life and technological distractions it seems rare these days to simply sit and talk for an extended period. The day has already been a success.


We enter Kardinia Park, our new ‘home’ ground for the day. In my opinion it is just about the perfect size for a footy ground – enough capacity to accommodate the footy population adequately, but still retaining the intimacy of a smallish ground and genuinely very few dud seats in the house. We are situated on the wing in the Brownlow stand on Level 2; a rare treat to have a seat this good on a basic membership.


My eagle eye spots Geelong royalty and now TV pundit Cameron Mooney on the sidelines. We have history. We went to school together at Tolland Primary and Mount Austin High in Wagga Wagga. For the last 33 years I have been clinging (and telling even casual acquaintances) about the day I kept him goalless in the U11s – the high water mark in my career of mediocrity chasing a Sherrin. My kids love watching Fox Footy’s Bounce and are desperate for a photo with Mooney, so ‘Bugger it!’ I thought as we headed down for a chat.


As an icebreaker I produce a photo of the pair of us at the footy as kids (sent to me recently by a mate) – it is evident early that Mooney doesn’t recognise me (or the photo of himself for that matter). I don’t feel they need to press or state my name, rather I bring up some shared friends we know and we chat pleasantly about all things Wagga and what his big brother Jason (ex Swan) is up to these days. Its an enjoyable chat and Mooney is friendly, engaging and leaves me with the impression that several mates have told me over the years that he fits the distinguished ‘good bloke’ category. The scallywags get their photo and leave with beaming smiles, with perhaps the wrong assumption that Mooney must be my best mate.


We all sit ready for the start of the game – Jack (aged nine) is on edge in the early salvos. With our kids we see the best and worst of ourselves I think. Unfortunately he has inherited his Dad’s pessimism and anxious tendencies at the footy. He (and I) need not have worried. The Eagles have not turned up in the first half. The Swans swarm from all angles and it is raining goals. Hard at the contest and with youth in the legs it is exhilarating to watch. And that is what we do. We just watch and smile. No nerves. Just content that we (for today) are far superior to the men in blue and yellow.


I good crowd of 9,500 is in attendance. For a moment it seems like I am back at the SCG in the mid 1990s – a smallish crowd of true believers, where you can hear the clash of the players bodies and the insults to the umpires with such clarity. Unlike the early 1990s though, we are the team dispensing the flogging.


As unfamiliar as today is, I have been here before, with fond memories of another West Coast belting. As a 9-year-old in 1987 I attended my first ever VFL/AFL match at the SCG as the great rover and goal-sneak Stephen Wright kicked eight and ‘The Wiz’ Capper kicked a bag in a 130 point belting of the Eagles. I have never forgotten that day (although I did lose my Dire Straits ‘Brother’s in Arms’ cassette we played on loop on the drive from Wagga to the SCG…) and I suspect I won’t forget today either.


We don’t have Wright and The Wiz today, but we do have Buddy and Papley, a goal-kicking Batman and Robin duo in a similar vein. Buddy appears to have added stronger overhead marks to his arsenal and Papley is a genuine showman cut from the old days.


For today everything is coming together. The hard nuts (Parker, Kennedy and Mills) lay the foundations for the outside run of Florent, Gulden, McInerney and Florent. It is a thing of beauty. The only sign of stress in the Dodson tribe is when ‘old mate’ at the bar asks me for $14 in due compensation for my Carlton Draught and packet of crisps.


As the goals continue to rain in the second half a disconsolate Eagles Fan sitting behind up wraps her scarf around her eyes – she has moved past the anger of the first three quarters to a state of despair. How did it come to this? There is no sugar coating it today, the Eagles are insipid from start to finish. As a general rule I love watching them play as a neutral supporter, Naitanui, Flyin’ Ryan, Kennedy etc. There is simply nothing on show today.


Dane Rampe directs the backline with the precision of Bobby Fischer. Robbie Fox is a Dodson household favourite – a good solid Tasmanian citizen, who wears a number in the 40s with pride, punches and scraps and boots the ball long. If Tom Hickey isn’t the recruit of the year then he is on the podium – at several stages during the game his runs himself to the point of exhaustion, you simply can’t ask for more from a player.


The siren sounds and a sea of euphoria sweeps Kardinia Park. The faithful are singling and hugging. For a few hours there is no Covid-19 fatigue. There is no fear. There are no worries. Chat around the stands suggests a memo be sent to the AFL ,with haste, to make Kardinia Park our permanent away fixture home ground for the next 24 years.


What does season 2021 hold for our young Swannies? It has been an unexpected ride up the ladder and I can’t wait to see how it all  plays out in the end. The effort and commitment has been first class.


What a great and unexpected day at the football it has been. This is one for the memory bank. A day in unfamiliar, but somehow strangely familiar surroundings, where the worries of which way the footy will bounce, how tight the scoreboard is or lockdowns and daily case numbers are not on the radar. A day to be at the footy and cheer loudly with my brilliant little family of Dodsons and Swans faithful. We jump back in the Camry and head for home with a smile from ear to ear.


Cheer Cheer the Red and the White!



SYDNEY                5.2      11.4    13.8    18.10 (118)
WEST COAST       1.3      1.3      3.5      3.8 (26)


Sydney: Franklin, Heeney 3, Hayward, Wicks, Amartey, Gulden, Dawson, Papley 2
West Coast: Yeo, Kennedy, Darling


Sydney: Mills, Hewett, Hickey, Parker, Florent, Dawson, Franklin
West Coast: Sheed, Duggan, Darling, Hurn, Yeo





The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter. Pre-order HERE




To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.



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.



Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.



Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.


One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE.


Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE.



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. Hi Craig
    Yes, what a wonderful day. We probably passed you en route, either going or returning, and we sat in the same stand. Great seats.

    Cheer cheer the red and the white indeed!!!
    Go Bloods

  2. craig dodson says

    Hi Jan, a day to remember. Hope you are well. Craig

  3. Rulebook says

    Extraordinary result,Craig it really seems like WC just don’t turn up at Kardinia Park and that’s not detracting from the Swans I admit I’m disappointed that,Dylan Stephens can’t get a game but hard to argue when a team romps in.Craig couldn’t agree more re definitely communicate more during a car ride thank you

  4. For what it’s worth I don’t think my Eagles problems have much to do with Kardinia Park as a venue per se.
    We can’t compete whenever conditions are some combination of cold, wet or windy. And there is nowhere those conditions turn up more consistently than KP.
    Why and what to do about is the question that has turned Simmo nearly as grey and balding as me.
    Game plan – we play a precision possession style and particularly try to hold the ball for long periods in our backline. My feeling is that this is more about controlling tempo and conserving energy as much as finding attacking opportunities elsewhere. Blatantly doesn’t work in bad conditions when turnovers are inevitable. Works well most of the time in the dry open spaces of Perth, but why we have never developed alternate game strategies is beyond me. Smart coaches like Longmire just press up until we turn it over. We have been running the 2018 tape for 3 years and its stuck in the cassette player.
    Experience – players growing up and training in Perth on sandy, draining grounds just don’t see these conditions often. The new training ground is a particularly hard fast tightly mowed surface. Why not let the grass grow; turn on the sprinklers; put footy’s in soapy water – and have tough competitive training sessions in the off season? Winter is coming. Doh.
    Player type – A lot of our best players are marking talls whose strengths are muted in bad conditions. Young Oscar Allen played his worst ever game. I suspect Jeremy McGovern is a light of other days. His body is letting him down and opponents have worked out how to avoid bombing it near him. Like the Eagles he has no Plan B. Barrass is strong in the wet but his clumsy kicking creates turnovers. Nic is buggered from rucking most of most games, so we have flogged our best horse to death over jumps. At the other end of the player spectrum we don’t have many of the in and under hard ball getters you need in the wet. Yeo and Sheed are the only ones. Kelly. Redden. Shuey, Gaff are all lighter bodied outside mids.
    Cheer Cheer.

  5. craig dodson says

    Thanks Rulebook, Dylan Stephens is an interesting one – I remember they made Jarrod McVeigh wait a long time in the reserves as well while he developed, and it all turned out well.

    PB – Will be interesting to see how the Eagles go this week. I think Liam Ryan is back isn’t he? Hopefully there is a bounce back.I really enjoy watching the Eagles when they are firing.

Leave a Comment