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Round 19 – Fremantle v Sydney: Weekend of superb blues

[This piece also appears on the Sydney Swans website – Ed]


I’m in the historic river port town of Echuca for the Winter Blues Festival. I’ve been to the town a few times over the years, though this is the first time for the Blues Festival. Like many I have twin passions for music and sport. It often leads me to ponder on the parallels between the two. The line up for a festival event offers a wide variety of styles and tastes. And also venues, from street stages and pub band rooms to cafes. There is always the pull to see the tried and true artists that have entertained you in the past, though there is nothing quite like a new discovery, a young exciting artist with flare and promise.


For the Swans I believe they are experiencing that tension at the moment. The excitement of Aliir dashing off half back or the steady hand of the experienced Teddy Richards. The front and centre roving ability of Tommy Papley against the hard nut competitor Benny McGlynn. Time will tell on the right balance heading into a finals campaign.


On the music front I have been taking in sets from my favourites like Geoff Achison, Chris Wilson and Jimmy Hocking who have graced the blues music scene for decades. Great discoveries have been the Justin Yap Band, Claude Hay, the Sammy Owen Blues Band and the Teskey Bros from suburban Melbourne, all young and offering diverse styles.


I’ve also balanced the music/footy equation by taking in the second half of the local Goulburn Valley League game on Saturday between the home town and Tatura. GV footy is reputably of a high standard. At half time the visitors, the Bulldogs enjoy a one goal lead over the Bombers. I place myself near the fence on the wing close to the home coaches box, with some visiting supporters behind me.


There is a light breeze favouring the western end to which the Bombers are kicking. However the Bulldogs look like the better team and run the ball well into the wind only to score a series of points. Echuca in the dark green tops steady with two goals towards the end of the quarter from their only moves forward with the wind. It’s all level at the last change.


With the breeze behind them Tat attack only for more points. It’s getting farcical when a Joe the Goose over the top only results in a miss from 5 metres out. The Bulldogs finally take a break when a classy left foot set shot from 50m takes them beyond a goal lead. It’s a tense few final minutes with the visiting supporters vocal. The locals pull one back late. Although they have kicked 1.11 in the second half the Tatura Bulldogs get up by 4 points. You have just got to love this in your face grass roots style game. Not the main act, but enjoyable all the same.



So to Sunday, after some musical interludes, I make my way to a tv and settle in for the Swans and Dockers from the West. What will we get today. Individual virtuosic efforts like your guitar heroes or a full band effort with all players chipping in. We start well with the wind, and are dominant but like Tatura on the previous day we are wayward with 3.7. We are more on song in the second term and by the main break have a 30 point lead. Joey and Hannas are like lead guitarists hogging the stage with over 20 possessions each. They are ably backed though with an array of supporting acts.


The third term sees the full ensemble take stage. Tommy Mitchell is popping in and out like a good sax player hitting the high notes with 3 goals, while big Sam Naismith soars above the pack to pull in a screamer, an emerging main act and scores his first goal. We double our lead and the main gig is over by the last break.


The final term is an encore with all our emerging stars taking stage. Heeney scores at will, X.Richards too, making a play to keep his brother Ted at stage left. The band leaders have been Joey and Hannas though with over 80 possessions between them. Cunningham and Lloyd like a good rhythm section have linked the whole performance coming from the back. A 15 goal win is the most complete performance of the year. The balance of old and new is providing a pleasing experience as we head to the finals, though we have a few main acts still to bring to the stage. Hopefully it will be music to my ears, just like this weekend of superb blues.


Fremantle   7.5.47
Sydney     21.11.137


Echuca     9.5.59
Tatura     8.14.62


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About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.


  1. jan courtin says

    Nice one Kieran

    I know Echuca well. My aunt, who was instrumental in my love of the Swans, lived in a house right on the river 10k out from town for many years, and we visited and stayed there often.

    Blues good too! So pleased you enjoyed your happy weekend.
    Cheer Cheer

  2. G’day Kieran, we spent a few days in Echuca for the Winter Blues festival. Yep we stood outside the Star on Saturday from 11-00 enjoying Geoff Aichison and Chris Wilson. Saw other good performers like Georgie McFloyd, Tex Miller, Safari Motel, always a great time away.

    We’ve headed up to Hay where I’ve not been for 35 years. My mistake, it’s a lovely spot with interesting options, Shear Outback, Dunera memorial, Hay School War Memorial amongst them.

    We also popped into the Duke of Edinburgh hotel in Booligal. not much after there. As Banjo Patterson said, ” Oh, send us to our just reward in Hay or Hell, but, Gracious Lord, deliver us from Booligal !”


  3. Keiran Croker says

    Yep, great festival Glen. I’ll be back. Hope outback NSW is treating you well. Must say my memories of Hay are not favourable.

  4. Dr Rocket says

    The Park Oval in Echuca is a long way from Subiaco Oval…
    Great pre-match footy food at the Victoria Hotel in Subi – the scene of Dave Warner’s live tapes.
    Did you try a hot dog at Echuca? Made by Murray Bombers legend Bluey Vagg – a Michelsen medalist and dual premiership player in the Bendigo league.
    Always good to see Echuca beaten – from a Rochester perspective.

    Cracking time at Subi watching the Swans win by 90 points.
    Enjoyed victory with more ales at the Subi Hotel.

    Enjoy Tassie!

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