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Round 19 – Sydney v Geelong: We can hold our heads high!




Sydney v Geelong

3:20pm, Sunday July 28




As every game approaches and as every game finishes, I think to myself: “What can I write about this week?”

It’s not just about the footy. I like to reflect on past times. Memories that connect me, my footy team and the opposition that week.

Some of my earliest memories of Geelong revolve around their Indigenous champion, Graham (Polly) Farmer, who played in the 60’s. I was one of the lucky ones to have seen him play.

With the Adam Goodes documentary “The Final Quarter” and subsequent sentiments still firmly ensconced in my mind, Polly Farmer and his exploits, especially after his heralded career, are especially relevant today. As Adam has done (with Michael O’Loughlin) setting up the GO Foundation to assist young Indigenous kids to further their education, Polly, in 1994, established the Polly Farmer Foundation to empower Aboriginal children. He said at the time, “I want the foundation to be of practical assistance to young Aboriginal people with potential to do something with their lives…not just sport, but in the professions and business. We want to develop links with the tertiary institutions and make sure Aboriginal people become leaders.”

Polly Farmer is a true legend.

As this week’s game is about to start, I also reflect on those past footy times. The ’60s were pretty dismal for my beloved team. There were only 12 teams in those days and we finished 11th in 1961, 12th in 1962 and 11th in 1963. In 1964 we won just one game. We faced Geelong the following year: premiers in 1963, finalists in 1964 and they’d only lost one game before we took them on at Lake Oval in July. The 32,260 fans who squeezed into the ground saw our stars perform rarely seen magic. Bobby Skilton, Graeme John, Stewie Magee, Max Papley, Johnny Rantall and Paul Harrison all starred; Bobby Kingston kicked nine goals and Herbie Matthews four. We led at every change and despite John Devine and Billy Goggin causing headaches for the Bloods, we won 20.9.129 to 17.13.115. It was a truly memorable win, and I remember it to this day.

Can we do it again today? I ponder. Unlikely, but you just never know. Our first quarter is magnificent, with the ball refusing to leave our forward half. Problem is that we squandered opportunities and missed shots on goal, leaving us only a couple of goals ahead at quarter time.

Half time sees us level at 6.5 apiece, and there’s much to like about our young kids out there today. They are giving their all and not intimidated about mixing it with the ladder leaders. There is hope.

The third term, however, destroys us and is a blow-out. Geelong show their class and brute strength, adding five goals to our one, but Jordan Dawson’s superb effort, weaving his magic between three opposition players and kicking that memorable goal, was the highlight of the quarter for me.

Hope returns when Isaac Heeney kicks two magnificent goals early in the last term, and we’re only 16 points down. Is there still a chance?

Unfortunately not.

The siren sounds, and another memory of family and Geelong springs to mind. That of one of my sisters. Back in Ocean Grove, I wonder how she is celebrating. She is probably also thinking of me, and my reactions to a loss. As I have talked about in previous articles, she is called the “traitor” in the family. As a youngster she was as devoted to South as I was. She went to all of our games and on the rare occasion that we won, she would sneak her footy scarf and beanie to school and try and wear them. She made a huge scrap book of her favourite South players and still has it to this day! However, when we were sent up to Sydney, she simply couldn’t bear it. The team was no longer South and that was it for her. Her husband was always a Geelong man, so she switched allegiance, much to the rest of the family’s horror!

Driving home, I don’t feel that disappointed. We gave our all for most of the match, and when you consider that we’ve yet to be thrashed in any of our losses this year, that is a feat in itself. And let’s face it, we have no ruckman at the moment, we have no Buddy, and still many others out injured. But perhaps more importantly is the fact that we, as the 15th placed team on the ladder, were playing the flag favourites today, and were far from disgraced. The 15th placed team that is the youngest of all teams playing at the moment. The 15th placed team that is laden with talent and promise, and our team of the future. The 15th placed team that is improving week after week, and the 15th placed team that we, as Swans supporters, should be so, so proud of!

And, we can certainly hold our heads high!

Go the Mighty Bloods!



SYDNEY           3.3       6.5       7.6       12.8 (80)
GEELONG        1.1       6.5       10.10   16.11 (107)


Dawson 3, Heeney 3, Ronke 2, Papley, Kennedy, Blakey, Parker
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Clark 2, Dangerfield 2, Duncan 2, Ratugolea, S.Selwood, J.Selwood, Parsons, Atkins


Mills, Dawson, Lloyd, Parker, Heeney, Kennedy
Geelong: Hawkins, Duncan, Kelly, Dangerfield, O’Connor, J.Selwood


Crowd: 32,911



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. Peter Stubbs says

    Loved memories of ‘65 Jan , I was there as an 11 year old couldn’t believe what I’d seen ! We won 2 in ‘64 both against Fitzroy who were winless !

  2. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,was unable to watch game from our campsite in Derby,but kept updated with scores online. Seems we were always playing catch-up after half time. Our only big loss this year was to Giants by 43 points. It’s official,Swans are rebuilding. With all our injuries,no choice.

  3. Donna McGrath says

    Love reading your write ups about our boys. We made the trip to Sydney for the game and like you were not disappointed with the loss, yes a win would have been the icing on the cake for the year but not to be. I am very proud of the way the team played and Dawson and Heeney with their magical goals, also Ronke who hasn’t had a great year had a good game. Our future is very bright.

  4. polly courtin says

    absolutely great courageous effort!!!!! yes Jan your story grabs the ‘feeling’ of our players doin their thing! go swannies
    go Jan ???

  5. Thanks for rekindling the memories, Peter. Perhaps we were standing near each other, hanging over the fence, on the occasion! Although in the 60’s at home, the Courtin mob sat in the Members stand. They were the times! Cheer cheer

    Tony, it’s been official for most of the year really. Transitioning, which is just fine with me. Thanks

    Donna, so pleased you made it to the game. Wish I’d been there! Ben Ronke certainly showed what he’s capable of, loved his game, and looking forward to future success for the team. Cheer cheer

    Polly, thanks, and definitely Go Swannies!

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