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Round 19 – Fremantle v Sydney: We sure needed that percentage boost!

We sure needed that percentage boost!

Before the game the percentage boost was not even on my mind. All I could think of was how the Dockers would surely come out and win for Pav! Surely they were able to do as they did last year and turn on a performance to be proud of – even without their star Brownlow Medalist – and win it for their champion in his 350th. They were my real fears.

Our recent games against them in Perth had not been our best, and losses over there were still fresh in my mind. I was also concerned about our young ruckmen, coming in to replace our only remaining big man, Callum Sinclair, injured and out for maybe the next four weeks. No Tippo, no Callum, Teddy still not back, no Benny, no Zac Jones, and no Jeremy Laidler.

Then I remind myself of our wonderful flock (or maybe it’s a clutch) of cygnets: those eight or so players who’ve been blooded this year, some only having played one or two games. They have all been instrumental in getting us this far, and I keep reminding myself that they’ll continue to do their jobs and impress again today.

I cannot tell you how nervous I am at the start of the game. The nerves this time are exacerbated because I’m not in Perth, but sitting in Surry Hills in front of the tele. I need forgiveness for not being there (not too sure by whom, mind you) but I really do feel guilty that I’m not almost 4,000 km away cheering on my team. It became practically an impossibility to get there this time (my first missed game since against them last year) as I had to be in Sydney Friday and Saturday to meet with printers for the proofing of my forthcoming book, and it couldn’t wait until Monday.

So, sitting on the couch with the red and white remote, the heart starts racing and the sweating begins. It’s a nice warmish day in Sydney – not hot enough to bring on the sweats – but it’s definitely happening as the ball is bounced.

The ball spends most of its time in our forward half in the first quarter, but our bombing it into the forwards, often missing targets, and our inaccurate kicking for goal, results in 10 shots on goal to their one and a lead of only 19 points at the break. As so often happens in games, when the ball eventually gets down the other end, as it did in Freo’s case towards the end of the quarter, they kicked truly and goaled.

The game should have been in the bag after those 30 minutes.

I keep reminding myself that we’ve often kicked far too many behinds this year in the first or second quarters, but often level it out by the end of the game. So, with much hope going into the second quarter, but not at all calm, I cling to the remote praying I won’t have to fast forward if it gets too close. (I always record the games). We actually manage four goals and NO behinds in the term. Pav finally gets involved. On his knees, with three Swans surrounding him, the ball bounces on his head, he grabs it, handballs to Mundy and they goal. A bit freakish! Mundy is also freakish today; he seems to have the ball on a string, and repels our wayward entries to the forward line time and time again.

Our lead of 29 points at half time is not nearly enough to allow me to calm down or relax, so I phone my brother Tony in Violet Town, to see what he’s thinking of our performance. Apparently, according to Marshall, I don’t allow Tony much time to say anything! Apparently I rave on! Can’t remember the conversation, but I do remember still being extremely nervous. I just hate watching my team on tele – far too nerve-wracking, compared to being there.

With Joey Kennedy and Hanners in everything, Sam Naismith doing a good job in the ruck, Aliir Aliir (so composed), Reg Grundy, Dane Rampe, Callum Mills and Harry Cunningham all playing beautifully in the backline, we surge ahead in the third quarter, adding 8.2 to their 1.1, with three to Tommy Mitchell, two to Dean Towers, one each to Buddy, Naismith and Xavier Richards. It’s looking good!

Tony phones me at three quarter time but I’m on the landline to Fox, complaining that the Fox Footy channel often doesn’t play or record, ever since we received a replacement IQ box about three weeks ago. The no signal sign appears intermittently, but fortunately our game today is on another Fox Sports channel which is not affected, so I’m hoping I’ll be a happy Jan at the end of the game, when I can return Tony’s call.

At one stage in the final term our score had boosted our percentage to 141.3 (according to the tele), only 0.7 of a percent lower than that cocky young team’s from across town. When the quarter started we were 72 points up and as it wore on, the magical 100 point win was a definite possibility. When Isaac kicked his second for the quarter we were 102 ahead, having kicked 6.2, but unfortunately the purple people reduced the lead by 12 points – the final goal for the game coming from their beloved hero, Pav. A fitting end to his milestone game, I suppose.

Pav is great. We all love Pav. But today he was playing for the opposition, so any sort of love will just have to wait until a later time.

It is so hard to reconcile the Freo of the last few years and the Freo of today. What on earth has happened? Even with their champion Nathan Fyfe out and Sandilands injured, how could they possibly have sunk so low! A real mystery.

I call Tony. He’s relaxing in the bath, with a beer. I ask him to hold on for a moment and I go to the fridge and pour myself a wine from the bottle I bought last week to help reduce the tension after our close game against Carlton. I had one glass that night, and will have another tonight – to celebrate! The bottle might just last me for the remaining four rounds! I chat with my younger brother and we discuss the probabilities of those four upcoming matches. He calls out who plays whom and we speculate.

Speculate! Schmeculate! What’s the point? We’ll all know soon enough!

My highlights from the game:
Joey Kennedy: best on ground
Dan Hannebery
Dane Rampe
Heath Grundy
Callum Mills
Aliir Aliir
Tommy Mitchell
Well, the whole team really!

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. Earl O'Neill says

    Beer in the bath, love your style Tony.
    Another great review, Jan.

  2. jan courtin says

    Thanks Earl

    What better way for a hard working man (Tony) to relax after his Bloods have just thrashed the opposition. I probably would have done the same had a bath been installed in our apartment (two bathrooms but not a bath in sight), but with a glass of white in hand.

    Until I read your Comment on Gill’s Richmond article about her changing her allegiance to GWS, I didn’t realise you were a Swans man – emphasis on WERE. OH DEAR!! That saddens me!

    Enjoy your journey!

  3. Keiran Croker says

    Never in doubt Jan. It will be interesting to see who does come in when finals arrive. Tippo hopefully. Naismith is potentially better than Sinclair. Aliir provides some athleticism and run that’s needed. Young Papley had a poor day. I’d give Foote another run. Maybe Jones will return. Though Ted and Laids doubtful.

  4. jan courtin says

    Hi Kieran
    At three quarter time I believed it was never in doubt, and I could relax and enjoy the last quarter. Not saying I didn’t enjoy the 3rd mind you, but it was more a feeling of relief watching those eight goals.

    Yes, hopefully Tippo will be back, and Paps will have better games. Doesn’t look as if Sammy Reid will be playing this year, and who knows about Teddy and Benny. I’d really like to see them back in the team, especially their experience. I think that’ll be needed come finals time. We just never know from week to week what’s going to happen, so let’s cross our fingers no-one gets injured and that we keep playing well.

    Cheer Cheer

  5. Keiran Croker says

    To be fair, I was a tad nervous prior to the game. Though after the first quarter, even though we wasted chances, it was clear it would be a big win! Getting the balance of old & new will be the trick. I don’t think all the old favourites can return, unless of course we get a run of injuries.

  6. Booze in the bath? I must try it one day – but it might be hard to get out of the bath when tipsy.
    However, I did celebrate our destruction of Freo with a Scotch on the Rocks. What a great game – if only all our games were like that!

  7. jan courtin says

    Hi Kieran and Marcel
    The balance of old and new is just so important. We seem to have done a job good so far, so cross fingers.

    Glad you enjoyed your Scotch on the Rocks Marcel.

    Cheer Cheer

  8. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,a much needed percentage boost. Just like you,I’d always rather be at the game than at home hurling abuse at the tv. Also,for reasons unknown,I become too nervous watching our games on the box. I believe you are similar in this regard. Lots of interesting discussion stimulated by the Tigers-cum-Giants fan. Go bloods.

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