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Round 2 – Carlton v Sydney: Love You. Miss You: Emotional Messages en route to Etihad Stadium

SWANZ left Sydney on Thursday, final destination Etihad Stadium. The car and its owner have done this trip hundreds of times over the years. It is very familiar, and these days an easy eight hour drive: a double lane highway, no hills to speak of, clear signage – not that it’s needed, with the inanimate object with the human voice speaking to us from the windscreen – and with a comfortable maximum speed of 110kph. Cruise control is a must.


Once onto the highway proper, away from everything resembling a city, there was a stillness and calmness; even SWANZ’s recently serviced engine purred more quietly than usual. How often do we find ourselves having to sit still for hours on end, with nothing to do except exert a subconscious form of concentration? Not often. It forces us to listen to our thoughts.


My mood was receptive and the thoughts flowed. Thoughts and memories of my childhood, of Mum and Dad, of family, of South Melbourne and Lake Oval, of my London days, of footy – 2016 style – and more of Mum and Dad: of his tumultuous life and death aged 57, of her musical talents and so-called failed career, of her sadness after Dad’s death, and of my involvement in all of these. Thought followed thought, memory followed memory, and tears flowed at times behind the dark glasses masking my sadness. Marshall read his newspapers throughout, quite oblivious to his immediate surroundings, and five hours later it was time for a reality check. We had arrived in Albury, our destination for the night, and Friday night’s game on the television beckoned.


Sixty odd kilometres out of Albury on Saturday morning on our way to Melbourne, LOVE YOU appeared, high above, on a bridge. A large sign, sending a strong message. A further 100 kilometres on, another sign, same style – black lettering on a white cloth, screamed out at me on the next bridge: MISS YOU.


It resonated with me. It took me back to the previous day’s thoughts of Mum and Dad and the sadness in their lives, the sadness in mine when thinking of their sadness. It made me wonder who wrote the signs, who this person was, desperate to get the message across, and going to all that trouble driving 100 kilometres between bridges, to express his or her feelings. Was it a male? Was it a female? Was it a first love? Were they still suffering? Had they reconciled? Where were they today, Saturday 2nd April? Were they even alive? I felt for them, I really did.


That was the last of those signs. Approaching the architecturally designed blue poles strategically placed on the side of the freeway just before the Western Ring Road sign, another bridge stood out. It was of the modern variety, with an attractive rusted steel look. The only messages there were those of the ugly graffiti style. And I mean ugly: tags from a seemingly unhappy soul, feeling the need to announce himself or herself to the outer suburbs of Melbourne. Disgraceful defacing of a nice piece of architecture.


The next bridge told me to have a laugh: forget all this sad stuff, laugh along and enjoy yourself. It reminded us all of the forthcoming 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival.


The City skyline appeared on the horizon and the next sign, in large bold letters, read: FEAR LESS. I didn’t see who was advertising, but it was sure telling me something.


Then, with spirits raised, the best of the lot greeted me! Entering South Melbourne, on our way to St Kilda, red and white vertical bars appeared. They were there, painted larger than life, on a bridge in Montague Street, presumably to warn drivers that a low bridge was being approached. That warning had far more of an impact – it was indeed a greeting, a warm welcoming, telling me that I’d arrived at my spiritual home of South Melbourne.


The next day, Sunday, I’d forgotten to reset my watch, and arrived at Etihad several hours early. Ensconced in our seats on Level 3, amongst the red and white, it gave me the chance to start reading Play On which I’d collected earlier from John Harms. Thirty odd pages in, the ball was being bounced and all else was put aside. There was no need for melancholy today.


The first quarter was a fairly even affair: Casboult kicking their first before Callum Sinclair showed why he was chosen as a forward/ruckman, marking brilliantly with one hand and goaling from 50 metres for the Swans. He kicked his second for the quarter not long later and with further goals to Tippo and Joey Kennedy, we led by eight points at quarter time.


The second quarter didn’t start that well for the Bloods, with Tippo not getting the ball correctly to Kreuzer after a free. Looking at the replay later, Kreuzer had been quite astute in walking backwards as the ball was being thrown, allowing it to drop short at exactly the right moment. Goal to them. A great handpass from Lukey Parker to Heeney quells Carlton’s dominance of the past ten minutes – despite them kicking three behinds – and Isaac goals for us. Dan Robinson puts us 20 points up before our new gem, Tommy Papley, snaps from 40 metres out – the ball bouncing over the head of two players in the goal square, into the goals. Buddy then goals from a free, before Georgie Hewett adds another from a free and we lead by 38 points at half time.


Harry Cunningham, a dead-set regular in the team now, works some magic to get the ball forward and Tommy Papley takes a spectacular and courageous mark. Goal to us. Carlton kick two consecutive goals not long afterwards, one after a very questionable free against Keiran Jack, and further goals to Callum Sinclair and Buddy extend our lead by 6 points, before the start of the last term.


Buddy drops a sitter at the start of the fourth quarter and then kicks his third goal not long later. Carlton aren’t doing that much, allowing us to kick goals through Joey Kennedy and Tippo. The next passage of play warrants whatever is greater than an academy award: Boekhurst throws his head backwards hoping the umpire will give “around the neck” after Dane Rampe tackles him at the WAIST. To the amusement/astonishment of everyone, the umpire gives into the Carlton player’s wishes and a goal results. Outrageous decision. We all smile when Buddy’s three bounce run, in towards the goal square, ends up being touched over the line. How often does Buddy run and bounce? He goals again, after a superb run and kick from Zac Jones, and then Tippo kicks beautifully for our final two goals. A 60 point win is what I had hoped for.


There was much to like in between the actual goals too. Our midfield shone, as usual; Callum Sinclair was impressive around the ground and kicking for goal; Tommy Papley showed his class in the forward line; Buddy, despite having two players on him for most of the match and kicking four goals, also managed to successfully get the ball to his teammates on many occasions; and I liked Harry Cunningham’s game. One very pleasing aspect of the game was that half way through the second quarter our score was 5.7. Half way through the last quarter we had added 12 goals without a behind – something we often do: kick too many points in the first half, only to rectify the problem in the last two quarters.


Carlton will surely be pleased with Daisy’s performance, returning from injury and suspension, and, although beaten soundly by 60 points, they fought it out to the end. They have certainly improved on last year.


Leaving the ground I overhead an interesting snippet of conversation between two Carlton supporters.


“We’ve improved I think, but we should have been closer than that.”

“Yeah, sure, but I suppose you have to keep in mind that Sydney is a pretty good footy team!”


Yes, we do have to keep that in mind. A long way to go this season, but the Bloods are proving, yet again, that we are in fact a pretty good footy team!


As we head back to Sydney today, April 4th, I am reminded that the LOVE YOU, MISS YOU sentiments, clearly expressed on the bridges a few days ago, have true meaning on this very day. My dear Mum would have turned 106 today! LOVE YOU, MISS YOU. True meaning in those words, no doubt for many of us.


My highlights for the game:


The overall performance of the team


Buddy’s run and three bounce effort


And, the 14 month old Carlton supporter sitting right in front us: he was a delight to behold! He even wanted to wave my red and white flag at one stage, before the parents thought otherwise!

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. Ross Treverton says

    You are our gem Jan. The Swans are very lucky to have you as a supporter. I remember Neil Roberts writing an article where he described South Melbourne as not having the best team, but they did have the best players (there is a difference) and the best supporters. You certainly fit that description. Long may you support your beloved Swans and long may you write about it. Thank you!

  2. jan courtin says

    As always, many thanks Ross. Your words are too kind!!

    Cheer cheer

  3. John Butler says

    A grand journey Jan. Makes my drive down from Ballarat look like a wee jaunt.

    As for the game, it was men against boys. Though I must say, a couple of your younger lights are going rather well.


  4. jan courtin says

    Thanks for your comment John
    Now, with retirement, we can travel to all of the Swans games. Drive to the Melbourne ones and Gold Coast; fly to Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart (from Melb) and maybe Perth. I love driving anyway, so it isn’t a chore!

    And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a wee jaunt!


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