Round 21 – GWS v Sydney: It’s a 28 degrees winter’s day in Western Sydney, and the Swans are hot

And that’s in the shade! I’d already had my Vitamin D for the day, in the form of a pill, so didn’t need or want to be plonked in the hot sun for nearly six hours, with no respite – especially with my fair skin, which has already taken its fair whack of abuse of ultraviolet rays over many decades.

 

We have no choice. I hadn’t bothered buying tickets before the game, as plenty would be available, so arriving early to watch the young boys in the reserves, we asked for two concessions general admission. I knew that a certain section of the ground in that area was sun protected.

 

“Sorry madam (oh how I hate being called that) there are no general admission available”

 

“Do you mean they’ve sold out?”

 

“No, they’re just not available”

 

“What does that actually mean?”

 

“If you want to come back later we might have some available for sale”

 

“Have they sold out?”

 

“No, they are not available until later, but we have other seats available”

 

It had taken us nearly an hour and a half to get to this godforsaken place by train – two trains actually, as the express from Central wasn’t running until midday. We’d left home at 10 am and it was now 11.30am. All I wanted was to sit down, watch the reserves, and relax – in the shade.

 

“Where are the other seats?”

 

“They’re Gold tickets (as if I cared about the colour or category!) and they will cost you $39 each” she replied, showing me the map of the ground.

 

“Well, if I have no choice, I’ll take them”

 

Just as I was about to pass over the credit card, I looked up at the AFL board attached to the outside area of the ticket office, clearly stating that Gold tickets for the game – concession – were $30 each.

 

“The price on the board says $30 for concession”

 

“I don’t think so”

 

“Excuse me, but could you please come out of the box and take a look?”

 

“Oh dear, it does say $30”

 

We wait patiently, preparing to pay $60, when a smart-arse young thing appears at the window, all smiles, and exclaims:

 

“Sorry madam, we have no tickets available at the price of $30 for this game, the price for your seats is $39 each”

 

“I’m sorry too, but the board clearly states $30 and you are legally bound to charge that amount and no more”

 

“In what way is it legal or illegal?”

 

I try to sound intelligent and spouted forth all sorts of legal jargon that I’d heard from my sister lawyer, but to no avail.

 

She went away for a while, then:

 

“That $30 price is if the ticket is purchased in advance”

 

“Where does it say that on the board?”

 

“It’s not a Ticketmaster board, so I can’t answer that, it must be the Giants board”

 

“Why would I be coming to this ticket office at the ground to buy tickets if I’d already purchased them in advance?”

 

“Here is a phone number you can ring to make a complaint…..”

 

Not that the dollars themselves are the issue – god knows we spend a fortune every year travelling to away games, but – and I’m not going to say “it’s the principle” – it’s something along those lines. So we pay the $78 (would have been $42 had we been given general admission tickets), and I can only assume that they or the Club wanted to sell the more expensive tickets (all in the sun) before offloading the least expensive ones.

 

And, anyone at the game or watching on tele could see quite clearly that hundreds upon hundreds of general admission seats were completely empty throughout the game. So, the lesson: buy beforehand – at least for Spotless Stadium.

 

Before that little episode, we were entertained in other ways, stepping off the train at Olympic Park. Yes, the same station that leads us to ANZ – the same stadium no-one likes and the one that has been given the flick by the AFL from 2017. Spotless Stadium is in the same complex of sporting venues. The large mobile screen giving directions to the ground flashed GLUTEN FREE, then flashed GWS GIANTS, with an arrow pointing to the right. That’s funny we thought, they must have them on some sort of strict gluten free regime, but surely that would have been in the news. We turn right, as directed, and notice people – mostly wearing Giants colours – with GLUTEN FREE bags, all coming from the showgrounds where a CELIAC Expo is being held. What a relief for those strapping young Giants boys, being able to indulge in their hamburgers and pasta!

 

The Swans reserves were completely annihilated, by over 100 points, and as many of them are to play in the seniors today, or are out injured, it wasn’t that surprising. Craig Bird was back from injury and played most of the game. He then sat with our injured brigade of Benny McGlynn, Gary Rohan, Luke Parker and a few other Swans whose faces I didn’t recognise. They were in the next section to us and when Benny walked past us I asked him when he was due back “Next week”. “Great, we need you!” I didn’t join the throng surrounding Parks for signatures and photos – it all seemed a bit embarrassing at my age!

 

What can we make of today’s game? A game that even die-hard Swans fans (and I suppose I am one of them) are a tad nervous about. A game that will most probably determine whether we get the double chance in the finals, and a game where, without five of our normal and best 22, could go the same way several of our games these past months have gone: badly.

 

It is so good to see Tippo doing what we all expect from him, back in the forward line and kicking goals. He has been much maligned by many, including Swans people, and often unfairly. Injuries have hampered him over the last couple of years, and adjusting to his new role in the ruck has taken time. His three goals for the quarter have set us up. Sammy Reid is also playing to his capabilities and a flurry of goals in the last ten minutes of the quarter gives us a lead of 22 points.

 

The second quarter is a bit of a grind. We hit the post with two consecutive shots on goal and kick 1.5 for the term. We do hold them to 1.3 so score-wise we’re still on top. Joey Kennedy is collecting his usual tally of possessions and his shot on goal from 45 metres is confirming that his goal kicking, especially from set shots, has improved in the past month.

 

Kieran Jack gets our first goal in the third quarter after receiving a clever pass from Goodesy, and Sammy is again involved, kicking another, after plucking a wonderful mark over the heads of four other players. He is playing an important game, not just marking, but in tackling and desperation. Harry Cunningham is also playing well, kicking a goal from a diving, falling backwards, mark. The two Shaw brothers are excelling off their respective back lines in typical fashion, and we’ll certainly miss Rhyce next year. Further goals for the quarter to Harry, Brandon Jack and Tippo give us a commanding lead of 62 points.

 

I’m thinking percentage at this stage – we desperately need it, and I don’t want any goals from the Giants for the next 30 minutes. They do however start the last quarter well, keeping possession of the ball for the first three minutes, but after another strong mark and goal for Tippo’s fifth, the rest of the quarter is on the Swans terms. Half way through the term – and out of the blue – our first-gamer sub takes centre-stage: not only does he kick our next three goals off his own boot – all within ten minutes, he is instrumental in a goal to Goodesy late in the quarter. Our new number 1 – no Barry Hall mind you, in shape, size or demeanour – but another great blond hope for the Swannies, along with Isaac Heeney. James Rose looks like a beauty! We kick a further two goals to close out the game, with Joey and Goodesy doing the honours, to cap off important games by both.

 

It is our highest winning margin for the year and there is still hope of a finish in the top four. We mustn’t be complacent. All the media hype at this time of year concerning who plays who and so-called easy games, is just hype. Lower teams have nothing to lose at this time of the season and if the Saints and Suns play like they did this weekend, we are no certainties in the two remaining games against them. We must not take them lightly. And, if Buddy, Parks, Benny, Gazza, and Tommy can all get back on the park, who knows what we are capable of? We can only hope.

 

My highlights for the game:

 

I haven’t seen such a smile on Goodesy’s face – when all players ran to James Rose after his first goal – since the 2012 Grand Final!

 

Joey Kennedy’s best on ground performance

 

Tippo’s game both in the ruck and forward line

 

Sammy’s strong performance, not just in the air, but in his tackling and efforts around the packs

 

Macca’s consistency and leadership

 

Harry Cunningham’s speed and three goals

 

Goodesy’s game

 

An all-round committed performance by the team

 

 

ps Whoopee! Hawthorn lost! Bulldogs lost! We’re back in the four!

 

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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. www.myswansloveaffair.com

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