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Round 21 – Sydney v Fremantle: Making Waves

For most surfers, I think—for me, certainly—waves have a spooky duality. When you are absorbed in surfing them, they seem alive, each with a distinct, intricate personality and quickly changing moods, to which you must react in the most intuitive, almost intimate way —William Finnegan, The New Yorker.


In a big wave wipeout, a breaking wave can push surfers down 20 to 50 feet below the surface. Once they stop spinning around, they have to quickly regain their equilibrium and figure out which way is up. By Round 6 of this year, our Swannies appeared as though disorientation was the status quo and spinning we were. Wiped out.


Surfers often talk about their sport in almost religious terms, and although I don’t have a great understanding of the culture that surrounds surfing, this sense of the act as a kind of spiritual journey is relatable. To leave the shore and swim out, through the break and over the back is to feel yourself slip free of your moorings and give yourself to the elements. Although your conscious mind still matters, you enter a world where it is your physical existence that matters first and foremost, the movement of your body in the water, with the water.


Swimming against the tide for much of the year, a recent shift in conditions has seen the Bloods riding high above the swell. Physical existence and more so, presence has clearly taken priority and this wave of red and white ferocity has taken on a life very much of its own. Something special is building here. The perfect wave?


The Moreton Bay Figs that line the final steps to the Sydney Cricket Ground have played witness to an ever-increasing flow of revelers as this momentum takes hold. Forty thousand Swans on the crest of this surge have streamed into the grand old ground today – our ideal home break. As my own personal experience of wave riding extends to boogie-boarding at Ettalong Beach as an eight-year-old, I can only imagine that this latest Swan surge must feel as though we’ve all jumped on a four-month long barrel ride that we’re not bailing off yet.


The roar as our Bloods enter the arena is a thing of beauty. We’re as one. This is our spiritual journey. The Enemy are from their own coastal turf across the land, but we’re all feeling particularly territorial today. From the start, we’re carving up our patch and within a matter of minutes, we’re charging. Gaz and Heens are cranking and Reidy’s rad aerials are epic. Our very own chief waxhead, Parks is blitzing. Cowabunga dude.


A fifty-point first quarter is irrepressible. The spooky duality of this year’s Swans is plain for all to see as the first two months of the season are increasingly swept aside. This is more than making waves; this is the endless bloody summer. The Members stand are even goin’ off.


I don’t know if Buddy has ever surfed, but if he did, he’d be riding phat tubes all day. Laughable commentary during the week questioned our big man’s recent from. Surely there are more pressing issues to discuss – like the gang of grommets coming through at the club. Paps and Haysie will be lethal Twin Fins for many moons and has anyone even mentioned Millsy this year? That kid makes me stoked to be a Swan. Melican is no Melican’t and the Ressies are stacked with youngbloods.


Choppy conditions are sapping The Enemy’s will and this match becomes a procession. Our style is to swarm and that makes an under-energised opposition easy prey. With the sun blazing through the Sydney skies, we can sit back and enjoy the show.


Occasions such as this remind me of my finest moments in the surf: My baby blue ‘Catchit’ boogie-board scything through the swell and my twiggy limbs clinging on for dear life. I’d be getting obscenely sunburnt and my footy shots were not quite the boardies that the cool kids had. The sand gave me an allergic reaction and it was soon apparent that I would not become the ‘Woy Woy Wiz’ as I had dreamed I would. It was all a bit gnarly for me.


Surfing requires this constant balance between the present moment and anticipation of the next wave that’s coming. You’re constantly looking at the horizon for the next set, but also trying to focus on whatever is happening right this second. An interesting subtext to the current make up of our side is the battle between the big men. Tippo is making a late charge for the finals and seems to be inspired by recent turmoil. He’ll back himself to make it through the whitewash and out the other side. What lies beyond the horizon must be all the motivation one needs.


The end result of this one sees the biggest ever margin between the two teams, the biggest between any two sides this year, and Ross Lyon’s biggest loss as a coach. To win by a ton this year is rare. We have now prevailed in twelve of our past fourteen in one of the most even competitions in memory.


If the past year were an ocean, it would certainly be a turbulent one. But these Bloods know a thing or two about riding these challenges, and their resilience has inspired hope at a time not long ago, when it seemed in short supply. So, get the wax and the wetty out Swannies fans, we’re riding this wave until it drops off and we’re either crushed or we’re crushing it. If you’re not amped, if you’re not aggro, get with it! Surf’s up dudes.


Joe Moore is a devoted Swan who belongs to a large like-minded flock. He lives in Hobart with his wife Kate and their young cygnet, Ollie. He was Ettalong’s worst boogie boarder.

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. Keiran Croker says

    Joe, I think the Dockers boys were in their board shorts, boogie board under one arm and cocktail in the other hand …. they had clocked out, season over. Its always good to have a stress free thumping win though. Lets see if we can ride this wave into Adelaide, it should be a great game.
    I was up there on Saturday, so sorry to have missed catching up. The weekend was rounded out with City to Surf on Sunday and the Archibald Prize on Monday before heading home. It was nice to have some warmth!

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