Round 18 – Sydney v Adelaide: A cygnet is born and the Swans rejoice

The sun is shining today in Sydney. It is a warm 23 degrees winter’s day, and it is a day for the Swans to stand up.


It is also a day for all of us to show RESPECT: to value, honour, appreciate, regard, recognise and revere – and a day for all of us to stand up for, and to stand by, our man.


The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story a few weeks ago, with photographs, of two swans and their cygnets crossing a road near Centennial Park here in Sydney. The photos showed the family of five crossing the road, halting traffic, when the three cygnets were first able to toddle, and then another three months later on the same road, again halting traffic. Many swans live in Centennial Park, where large expanses of land and water add to the beauty of this oasis. This 2.2 square metre heritage site, so close to the city, is indeed a blessing for Sydneysiders, especially those lucky enough to live close by.


There is also another parkland, not as well known, near Centennial Park, and very close to the home of our Swans – the Sydney variety – just over the road from the SCG. The lake there is called Kippax Lake, named after a former mayor William Kippax, in the late 1880s. However, we like to call it Swannie Lake. Very few people seem to utilise this small parkland – except on footy days – presumably because it’s tucked away off the main roads and in amongst AFL and NRL training grounds and car parks.


Living close to the SCG – which is intentional – allows us to walk to each game, so we wander around Kippax Lake and the adjacent parkland on game-days, and often take this route on non-footy days, for our daily stroll.


Swannie Lake is not very big – immeasurably smaller than the one Melburnians are familiar with next to the South Melbourne ground – but it is tranquil and intimate, and surrounded by beautiful Moreton Bay Figs. It is the home to perhaps twenty ducks and two beautiful swans. We call them Swannie – both of them.


They are your typical Australian version: black, with their red beaks and white V’s creating the reverse of the old South guernsey. My heart skips every time I see those beautiful beaks.


Many Sydneysiders have no idea why our team is called the Swans. Many Melburnians believe it’s because our ground was next to the Albert Park Lake in South Melbourne which, of course, is the home to many swans. Not so. We became known as the Swans in the successful years in the 30s, when many West Australians joined the Club – their emblem being the swan. At the time, there were non-native white swans in the Albert Park Lake, which helped reinforce the image of the swan with our white jumper, and the name stuck.


We’ve been walking around Swannie Lake for 16 years on and off and we’ve never seen more than two swans at any given time. Maybe it has always been the same pair, as swans partner for life, but no cygnets have appeared. Maybe it is a gay relationship, as apparently one quarter of male swans form long-term partnerships together. We’ve never known.


However, these past eight weeks or so a nest on the edge of the lake has been developing: a bit of a mess actually – lots of garbage left by humans, mixed with weeds, fronds and sticks. Management of the Lake has installed a barrier for our Swannies, and incubation started six to seven weeks ago. Every time we’ve visited, one of them has patiently and methodically been sitting there protecting the eggs.



The sixth or seventh week of incubation.

The sixth or seventh week of incubation.



None of this has any particular relevance to our game today against Adelaide – in footy terms – but the significance of our two Swannies, creating another Swannie, does seem important. They are swans after all and there is a link.


Walking to the ground this afternoon for the game we immediately notice that the nest is unprotected – the swans are nowhere in sight. Instead there are two eggs, unhatched, and we fear the worst. We had heard from a fellow-walker last week that our two Swannies had been at this lake for three years, and twice had been unsuccessful in producing offspring. The two unhatched eggs seem to confirm failure again. We feel devastated for them.


We anxiously walk a few metres around from their nest hoping to spot them and in the distance across the other side of the lake there they are – feeding on the grass under a tree. What a glorious sight to behold!



One or two day old cygnet



We take many photos and wait until they are ready to go back into the water – the parents easily stepping down from the concrete edge into their more familiar domain. They don’t seem at all concerned about their baby, who after a minute or so of calculation places itself on the edge, does an awkward roll and plops down into the water to join them.




The lake, mum, dad and cygnet, and the SCG in the background



The tranquility of the lake, the imminent setting of the sun behind the vast figs, and the sight of these three calm beautiful creatures – seemingly oblivious to everything else except their devotion to each other – is perhaps a reminder today that, despite the recent turmoil and shame surrounding our other beautiful swan, Adam, our daily lives are filled with joyful experiences, to be remembered and treasured – no matter how far removed and small they seem.


The banner says it all: RESPECT – and the players have vowed to support Adam today in one of the best ways possible, with a win.


The crowd has turned up – all 38,690 – and 37 is seen everywhere. We stand as one for 60 seconds before the bounce of the ball, with images of Goodesy – larger than life – rolling on the screen before us. 77,380 hands clapping in unison at the sight of our great man (maybe a few hundred less, allowing for Crows people), and a tear rolls down my cheek.


The first goal sets the tone. Jetts does a little jig after kicking truly from 55 metres on the run and is then smothered in swans kisses and hugs. How good it is to have Benny back. He is instrumental in our second goal from Tippo, and a short time later Buddy, on the end of three handballs under pressure, marks and kicks our third. The former Crow, playing his first game against them since moving to Sydney, kicks his second and is looking assured and on the ball. A clear run out of defence via Laidler, Tommy, Harry, Shawry, Harry again, Smithy, Macca, Kizza and then Hanners ends in a great goal. Sammy is taking a few trademark screamers, and another goal to Tippo – again involving Benny – leaves us six goals to their two for the term. What a start!


Eddie gets his first for the Crows before Buddy performs one of his usual tricks: kicking around his body, on the run from about 60 metres, to goal. Lloydy gets in on the act adding six points to the score, then a string of handpasses and short kicks from deep in the back line ends up in Sammy’s sure hands for another. Macca – everywhere – kicks to the Bud for yet another and Hanners, with that worried look that he often shows, kicks our eleventh. Two posters follow and we’ve done what we had to do in the first half, and lead by 43 points.


Compared to the previous 60 minutes, the second half is nothing much to write home about (I wonder if the social media generation of today even know that expression) but Joey’s two goals are excellent – especially the second: scooping up the ball in one hand, on the run from 60 metres out. His beaming smile tells the story. Adelaide kicks two consecutive goals in the half; we kick a few too many behinds; our mids continue to control; Benny lays a great bump on Danger (he gets reported!); the gel on Isaac’s hair seems to have done what gel promises to do, for 120 minutes; from the large screen replay it appears the Crows have been robbed of a goal; we increase our lead from half time by seven points and we’ve stood up for our man and held true to our promise to Adam to win! I hope he enjoyed it.


We now have to repeat it next week, and the week after, and the week……., and hopefully with Adam back in the side.


We walk home past Swannie Lake and in the dark can’t actually see mum, dad and cygnet. I can however imagine a smile, of sorts, forming across their red and white beaks, and I smile with them.


My highlights from the game:


The standing ovation in the third quarter at the seventh minute for our man.


The V guernseys – almost identical to the old days.


The full back line; the half back line; the centre-line; the half forward line; the forward line; the rucks, and the old fashioned rovers – the Bloods of course.


And, just seeing Paddy Dangerfield. I love watching this guy. He’s my very favourite non Swans player and AFL person – great footy player, articulate, intelligent, charismatic and bloody handsome!


Go Goodesy and go the Bloods!

This article was deleted and then re-instated.  Comments made originally,  are therefore no longer showing or available.

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.

Leave a Comment