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Round 17 – North Melbourne v Sydney: Talk about a win!


Sitting at the airport in Melbourne on Monday afternoon, waiting for our flight home to Sydney, I’m still experiencing the relief I felt when the final siren sounded on Sunday afternoon. And I’m still in awe of what my team achieved.


When Aliir Aliir kicked that goal, with the stadium clock on 30 odd minutes, I grabbed my phone: “1 minute 48” was the reply from my sister, watching on telly. There was no need for a question. I phoned again: “4 seconds”. “We’ve won, 4 seconds left”, I screamed to the group of Swannies surrounding me in the Adam Goodes Bay (37) on Level 3. We jumped simultaneously, raised our arms and gave out an almighty sigh of joy and relief!


It was that kind of game. Ups and downs – elation one minute, dread the next. It could have gone either way, right up to the final siren. But we were the ones singing at the end!


So much could be read into this match. North, despite losing Ben Jacobs before the start, were the favourites. (That’s fine with me, I never like favouritism). Our past two matches have not quite been up to scratch, and despite our record at Etihad this year and indeed for the past nine years against North, and despite our wins this year and our position on the ladder, the pundits believed we’d lost our edge and were no longer a team to be reckoned with. Even some Swans supporters on social media were baying for blood after our fourth loss at home last week.


What those pundits and week-to-week supporters don’t realise is that this is the Bloods! That group of men that never, ever, gives up, no matter how dire the circumstances. And those circumstances, before this game, need stating, and stating again.


Of the 22 guys who took to the field on Sunday afternoon, nine of them were there to replace the likes of Grundy, Reid, Melican, McVeigh, Hannebery, Jack, Mills, Naismith and Rohan – all players who would normally be in our best 22. Add to that statistic, ten of the guys playing Sunday had played 32 games or less. Some of them are kids.


For our team to overcome the injury crisis, play against a formidable opponent on their home turf, to fight back when down, and to actually pull off a win like that, I’d say is a pretty remarkable achievement. And to do it when Joey Kennedy was forced off the ground in the second quarter, just adds the icing.


Down two goals at the first break, after a combined eight goal quarter, it felt that North was playing a cleaner, more direct game. However, the pendulum swings in the second term and when Will Hayward snaps over his shoulder to goal in the first few seconds, then our find-of-the-year Ben Ronke quickly adds a further two – his third – we’re showing those doubters just what we are capable of. Ben Brown levels the scores but Will Hayward and Harry Cunningham kick truly, and we’re 11 points up at half time.


In the third term, it’s North’s turn to pile them on. They kick the first two, then Zeibell – that bloody Zeibell, I find myself muttering over and over – puts them up by four points, as he goals. Ben Ronke kicks a beauty 50 metres out, then Buddy, his first for the night, but just as importantly, his 900th. Then that Zeibell is at it again, snapping his fourth, and Ben Brown his third. Majak goals – their sixth for the quarter, and it’s back to an 11 point difference in North’s favour.


The last quarter is a blur, and there’s no way I can write about it without the use of the Fox replay. What I mainly remember is Aliir’s goal, so when I arrive home in a few hours from now, the first thing I’ll be doing is watching the recording.


Wow! I sure missed a lot. That final term was a beauty! (In retrospect, mind you).


Nine goals all up. Isaac Heeney starts it off with a superb on-the-run goal from 50 metres, then Robbie Fox marks cleanly 35 metres out to level the scores. Buddy, from his favoured position 55 metres on an angle, adds another, and minutes later dribbles the ball through 15 metres from goal. When he’s really needed, he certainly produces his magic.


As has been happening all game, both teams score their goals in batches. We’ve just added four to their nil. We’re ahead now by 12 points, but as expected, North has its turn. Brown goals, then Majak. Level again. Majak then puts them up by a solitary point, and when their star, that bloody Zeibell, adds another, with just four minutes left, we’re down by seven points.


It doesn’t look good, and I remember feeling disgustingly sick to the stomach! But for the strong gut-feeling I’d had all week that we would win this one, my belief could well and truly have been challenged at this stage.


Somehow our man Ronke has the ball in the goal square, turns, snaps, and kicks truly. He will be a star! Seconds later, Goldstein’s tap from the centre goes to Luke Parker, and Ben Ronke is pouncing again – this time a point. Level again.


The ball is cleared by North, no-one marks, it falls to the ground, Cunnington passes to that other North star Higgins, Jake Lloyd intercepts, passes to Dane Rampe (now up the ground), he kicks long to five leaping players, including Allir (also up the ground), the ball – still in the air – is tapped forward by Tom Papley, and with eyes-on-the-ball Allir reading the play beautifully, he grabs it 20 metres out, runs six steps, drops it onto his right boot and GOALS!


Now the first phone call. 1 minute 48 left. We’re a goal up, and Swans fans are delerious.


The ball is back in the middle, North’s kick smothered by Luke Parker, Callum Sinclair kicks forward, Buddy collects a North head, free, play on, Luke Parker and Jake Lloyd combine, Isaac Heeney to Will Hawyard on the wing, North kicks to the centre, straight into the waiting arms of man-of-the-moment and match winner Aliir Aliir, Nic Newman receives, goes forward, out of bounds on our 50 metre line. North clear from the throw in and Nick Smith takes a match-saving mark in front of that man Zeibell. Now time for precious wasting of seconds as we kick it backwards and backwards. As George Hewitt kicks to the boundary line, I make my second phone call. 4 seconds! It’s over. Siren!


Talk about a game of footy! Talk about a win! Talk about those young first year Bloods! Talk about those young second year Bloods! Talk about those young third year bloods! Talk about, well, simply, the MIGHTY BLOODS!


We’ve done it again. We’ve shown the footy world and those week-to-week supporters that despite nearly half our team out injured, we can do just what it takes to get over the line.


Let’s hope that next week, against the Suns, we can get a big win and boost the all important percentage.


And then it’ll be time for another trip to Melbourne to take on the Bombers, at our very favourite ground this year, Etihad Stadium!


Go Bloods!



NORTH MELBOURNE   5.1       6.2       12.5     15.8 (98)
SYDNEY                       3.1       8.3       10.6     16.8 (104)

North Melbourne:
Ziebell 5, Brown 4, Daw 4, Macmillan, Hrovat
Sydney: Ronke 5, Franklin 3, Hayward 2, Heeney 2, Papley, Cunningham, Fox, Aliir

North Melbourne: Ziebell, Higgins, Brown, Anderson, Goldstein, Daw
Sydney: Ronke, Franklin, Heeney, Lloyd, O’Riordan, Sinclair

North Melbourne: Jacobs (concussion symptoms and neck soreness) replaced in selected side by Davies-Uniacke, Turner (concussion)
Sydney: Grundy (managed) replaced in selection side by Marsh, Kennedy (back)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Rosebury, Harris

Official attendance: 25,633

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. Debby Ross says

    Fabulous Jan – I relived it all over again! Would have given anything to have been there… but let me tell you it was probably more excruciating g watching on telly – And then bloody channel 7 go to the news and cut the magic short!
    And that bloody Zweibell..
    My hearts still bursting with pride – I could explode – and for Aliir to kick the matching winning goal with his first ever!
    (Book has had to wait till I can concentrate…you’ll understand!)
    Love my Bloods ??

  2. I’m sure it was more excruciating watching it on tele, Debby. That’s a small fraction of a reason I make sure I GO to the games – can’t bear seeing it on the box.

    Every week from now will be tough – but then I suppose, in retrospect, every game is tough, and so far we’re up there with the other top teams. Players to come back? Let’s hope so.

    Cheer cheer and thanks

  3. A win a win a win!
    They seem bloody hard to come by, but as you say, all the inexperienced players did so well.
    What does a team have to do to win?
    One week they’re up and then bang, getting thrashed. What a weird game is our Australian Riles?

  4. Hi Jan, , Thank you for another great read. Oh, my gosh what a game!
    My heart was pounding and I thought my blood pressure was about to raise the roof at Etihad.
    We were all sitting on the edge of our seats, nervously awaiting the final siren. And when that siren finally went, there was lots of jumping, screaming and tears of joy.
    Gotta love our Swannies ????

  5. Congrats on the win, Jan.
    For a North supporter it was very disappointing – but the better team won on the day.

    I am constantly amazed at how the Swans continue to unearth and then develop young talent.

  6. Thanks Jude, Rhonda and Smokie

    Yes, Jude, it is sure a funny game, this Australian Riles!! and Rhonda, we definitely do love our Swannies.

    Smokie, interesting you should think we were the better team on the day. Coming away from the game, the relief was very much tied up with believing North was the better! Could have gone either way.

    Cheer cheer

  7. Julie Cattlin says

    I was too scared to ring you, Jan, after the game. I did hear the score at half time, and I thought: “OMG! How can this woman stand the tension!!” I heard the result the next day. So happy for all you Swannies – specially family Swannies. I do think of our aunty Nin when they win. How happy would she be!!
    Fingers crossed for your next game – or rather, games. Julie xxx

  8. Thanks Julie. Yes, Nin would be like me now!

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