Round 17 – West Coast v Sydney: Ten years of great rivalry mean little, as the Swans suffer another smashing

What can we expect from our Swans today? That, indeed, is the question.


I haven’t been mulling over it this past week, instead, just wondering whether the efforts from the last couple of games – or maybe the results – will be enough to jolt them out of their lethargy.


Maybe we can perform in Perth as we’ve done on many occasions against the team that shares the great rivalry these past ten years. What a rivalry it has been against those Eagles.


West Coast will forever be etched in Bloods history. Those two premierships will never be forgotten. Those two games will never be forgotten. I can see them now: each individual goal, each tackle, each mark, each pass, each and every gut-busting run and carry, and each agonising second leading up to the final siren. I can see the faces of the players after those 33 odd minutes, and I can see and feel the emotion – utter euphoria and utter desolation.


I can also vividly see the tears in the eyes of thousands of Swans supporters. We hugged anything red and white in 2005 – complete strangers – in the stands, outside the MCG, in the streets, at Punt Road after the game, walking to the hotel at midnight, at breakfast in South Melbourne the next morning (still decked out in our red and white), getting in and out of the SWANZ wagon driving back to Sydney, in Sydney walking to the parade, during the parade, and after the parade. We tried to make it last and hoped it would never end. We were ecstatic and almost in disbelief – it had finally happened after not many years shy of a century!


I can also vividly remember it all over again the following year. This time the blue and yellow people smiling and crying tears of joy. This time the red and white leaving the MCG not knowing what to do, where to go, how to cope, with tears in our eyes. Oh so close. One miserable point separating euphoria and desolation.


Ten years later and we meet again. The Eagles have been flying in all their glory this year whilst the Swans have had their wings clipped these past few weeks.


We are not in Perth for this one, choosing the trusted remote to give us the weekly footy fix. Well, more like a Swans fix really. Footy is great but the Swans are part of me and my life, so the need and the want are paramount, despite how we are travelling.


Just before the game starts, and presumably because our team is in a bit of a lull at the moment, Marshall also has a question. Not What can we expect from the Swans today? but perhaps more importantly to him, with his family now living in England, he says “Do you think we could perhaps go overseas this year in September?”


What a question to ask of me. Why ask this question right now, six weeks out from finals and just before the ball is bounced? And, surely he knows me well enough after 40 odd years to know my answer! I pause the remote button and quickly suggest that he might like to go ahead of me, in September, and we could meet up in October. Glum looks on both faces. As neither of us likes travelling alone, or apart, that notion soon gets knocked on its head, and we decide on October.


Goodesy and Macca are the only two players from the 2006 encounter playing today. Of course Teddy was around then but out today. The rivalry between the two teams is not seen in the same light now as it was then, but the past cannot be forgotten. Oh! to see Mickey O running into that open goal in Perth, putting us in front to win the 2006 QF by a point, and his running headlong into the faces of the shell-shocked Eagles Cheer Squad saying whatever beautiful words he said that night…. That’s what we want today: more of Mickey’s theatrics and aggression. I wonder.


Instead, we get nothing much at all. A little like last week but with short periods of effort this time. Five chances at goal in the first quarter for five points and one out on the full. Eagles kick five goals straight. At least we tried that quarter and the difference was kicking for goal.


The second and third stanzas reminded me of the Swans of old. Old as in more than ten years ago. Constant turnovers, bad kicking, ill-directed handballs, not able to apply pressure and certainly not able to cope with their pressure. The man-mountain Eagles were impressive and we were far from it.


We showed what we are capable of for about ten minutes in the last quarter, with consecutive goals, but all far too late. We lapsed again and they doubled our score in the end.


If Buddy, Tippo, Teddy, Benny and Gazza get back soon and if we can show some true Bloods spirit and get back into form, we might still be a chance to remain in the top four.


However, ifs are nothing more than an attempt at optimism, and it all means nothing in the long run. So at this point in this very recent uninspiring saga between us and them, I’ll just concentrate on what I know to be true – the past. That wonderful game in September 2005 – the last one – and wait to see how 2015 progresses.


One thing is for sure: If West Coast continue their good form, their supporters might well be crying tears of joy in September and October.


Who knows what we’ll be doing?


My highlights from the game:


Not actually being in Perth to witness it!


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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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