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Round 20 – GWS v Sydney: Heartbreak, but pride aplenty.


Another of those lousy under one–goal losses!

I told myself before the game, as I have done before most games this year, that the most important aspect of the 120 minutes would be the continued learning curve of our wonderfully gifted youngsters. The actual result would not be that important. Although, I imagine if I were to echo those sentiments to the players themselves, they would laugh in my face, and perhaps even ridicule me!

Leading up to those frenetic final minutes, after so many chances had gone begging, I started ridiculing myself. How could I possibly not care whether we won or lost? All that matters is a win! Please Bloods, just mark it, kick it, do something! Oh God, Sammy! And then the swear words followed! That devastating, sinking feeling, deep down inside, after a close one, returns – as it has done for decades – and my so–called intellectualising about a learning curve is blown out of the water. Big time!

As happened in last week’s game against Geelong, we were probably the superior team for three quarters. Our first terms were magnificent, and our accuracy this week saw a 5.0 to 3.4 scoreline going into the second term: Paps with two goals, Ben Ronke, Dan Menzel and Jordan Dawson one apiece. The second quarter goal to Isaac Heeney was our only one for the term, while the opposition added five. Their goals all seemed far too easy, from my vantage point.

The 13–point deficit at half time is soon reduced as our star Isaac adds a further two goals, Ben Ronke kicks his second, and just as the siren sounds, Nick Blakey marks and adds another from 50 metres. We’re back to within a mere five points, and there’s very little in it.

Some of the best play of the day is in the third quarter, with the movement of the ball from our backline, via four players, ending in the hands of Ryan Clarke, booting a massive 55 metre goal. One point the difference. When Isaac misses two dead–set shots straight in front from 40 metres (so unlike Isaac!), the look on his face tells us all. Then James Rose, so brilliant in the NEAFL most weeks, drops a sitter of a mark, takes a strong one a minute later, but kicks into the man on the mark and it wobbles to the boundary line! Oh dear! Poor Rosey! Then Robbie Fox misjudges his kick and the ball ends up in Finlayson’s hands – a goal for them. They add another, and our 10–point deficit looks insurmountable. Insurmountable? The Swans? No such word! Isaac makes up for his wayward kicking, goals, and we’re three points down, with only a couple of minutes left. Oh God, Sammy! I scream, Oh No!

The siren goes, and I’m heartbroken.

But the overwhelming emotion is pride. Pride in our young inexperienced team. Pride in the fact they that took it right up to one of the flag favourites – yet again – and pride in the knowledge that those very same young guys will one day, very soon, be at the forefront of a renewed period of success for my beloved team.

So, as we progress through the final three rounds of the season, I simply have to return to the transition we are going through at the moment. A transition that is necessary in order to become a force of the future once again.

Words cannot really describe what gratification my team has given me these past 22 odd years. Most footy lovers would surely be jealous of the pure pleasure we have had bestowed upon us. We have been blessed!

Sustained success, however, can make it difficult to accept that, at some stage, change will occur. No team can maintain that type of achievement year after year, especially with so many personnel changes and injuries. The fact that we have maintained our winning ways for so long, without crashing to the bottom of the pack, is testament to the Club and its Bloods culture.

And, with so many of our experienced stars sustaining injuries this year, some long-term, we have been forced to blood many of the young guys, resulting in fielding the youngest team over many a weekend. On one occasion, I recall that half our team had played fewer than 50 games (some only 10).

To think that we have not been disgraced in any of our losses this year, is also testament to the talent and sheer determination of our young team, and the coaching staff.

Which leads me to the all-important learning curve, once again. There will always be ups and downs, and as long as the players learn from their mistakes and opportunities missed, and are encouraged by all around them, then the road will become a well–travelled one.

We all just need to be patient, and learn to not be judgemental or critical when the downs present themselves, even if they outweigh the ups.

I, personally, have resigned myself to the transition phase. It’s almost a relief not to have to worry from week to week about where we are on the ladder, how the percentage is affecting us, what injuries are depleting the team, and making sure that nothing else interferes with that ninth month of the year. And, I must admit that I haven’t felt so relaxed about footy as I have this year!

However, although that heartbreak feeling is still lingering since the siren sounded on Saturday at 5pm, I am able, with a quick flick of the switch, to turn that sadness into a positive: There is Pride Aplenty when talking about my beloved Swans!

Go the Mighty Bloods!


This article was first published at


Jan Courtin, a passionate lifelong Swans fan who attended her first game in 1948, moved to Sydney to be closer to her team in 1998. In 2016 her book “My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans” was launched by the Swans, and she was chosen “Female Fan of the Year” by the AFL Fans Association. Her website:



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. No doubting your love of the Swans Jan (of course).

    I thought you were very stiff in the dying minutes. That had to be a mark or a free kick to Sam Reid. I’m usually sympathetic to the umpires and their tough task, but that was one of the clearer ones (to me), an in-principle sort of free kick where the defender had been beaten outright by skill.

  2. Jan, I know just how you feel having seen my team (Norwood Redlegs) lose many close games we should have won, it’s most decidedly heart breaking. One season they lost 3 consecutive games by less than a goal, one of them was on the last kick of the day.

    As a neutral supporter, I really enjoyed your game, unfortunately there can only be 1 winner (sometimes a draw can be more fitting). Keep your chin up Jan.

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    “My so-called intellectualising”, don’t I know it!
    Tho I didn’t really watch the game, we were blasting Celibate Rifles in the backyard.

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys


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