Round 22 – St Kilda v Sydney: A first time Swans experience

I am taking my young scallywags (Jack and Harry) to their first game of football today. As any Father would attest, this is a special moment. The type of moment that makes the 2am wake ups, hospital visits, dinner time trench warfare, and the 4678 nappy changes all worth it.

Taking a three-year-old (Jack) and a one- year- old (Harry) to the football is far from a simple task. It requires strategy, planning, bribery, cutting edge electronics and enough sugar to knock out at least two teeth. My wife Sophie will be riding shotgun today as this is not a one man job.

The build-up in the Dodson household started early in the week. Jack has been fully briefed and already packed his Buddy plush toy. Jack asked on Tuesday if we should take Buddy some vegemite sandwiches in case he is hungry during the game? We have been on Buddy watch all week. If he pulled out then I think Jack may have gone militant on us. Buddy is just shaded by Batman in the three-foot dictators ranking of Superheroes. Superman is breathing down Buddy’s neck, however, I’d like to see the Man of Steel try and drill one from 60 metres off two steps, or jag Jesinta Campbell’s phone number at a nightclub.

Before we leave there is the obligatory photo with the tribe all decked out in Swans colours. This is the type of photo that makes it onto the mantelpiece, nudging out another wedding photo.

We jump into the Camry and head to Etihad, which is only a short -drive from our home in Seddon. We park underneath the ground and are in our seats in less than 20 minutes. This certainly beats taking three hours to find a carpark, and freezing your backside off on the concrete slabs at Waverly Oval, like I did when I was the boy’s age. I will give the AFL a tick on this one.

As we make our way to the seats, I run into a bloke I used to play Cricket against back in the Riverina. It turns out he is in town, with a crew from Osborne, to cheer their hometown boy, and former Swan, Adam Schneider, in his last game. I suspect this bloke has no idea who I am, but I’ll cut him some slack as it has been 20 years since we crossed paths. I may have lost a lot of hair over the years, however, my memory is sharp.

Next task is to grab the footy record. A keepsake to mark the occasion. There is some risk that Harry may eat it before we get home though. The banner is hoisted and I join the scallywags for a rendition of the Swans theme song. A priceless moment, which we capture on tape.

Harry makes eyes with a young lady sitting in the row behind us. He playfully pulls at her jumper and she is smitten. Perhaps I have a little charmer on my hands?

The Swans start well and have an even spread of contributors. Reid slots an early major, at which point Jack turns to me and asks if he can go onto the field and kick the next one? Unfortunately they don’t take turns in the AFL, like we do in the backyard. Goodes is finding plenty of the pill, and Tippett is exerting some real physical presence at the contest. Little Harry has managed to smear Milk Arrowroot biscuit hand prints on at least 5 nearby spectators, thankfully no-one calls the anti-social spectator hotline.

Jack is restless at the quarter-time break, so Sophie straps the scallywags on like saddle bags and heads in search of fizzy drink and chocolate to help maintain their concentration.

Chaos descends on row H, aisle 10, midway through the second quarter. Jack upends the fizzy drink all over my faded Levis, while sultanas go flying into row G, as I scramble to limit the damage. Yes, it does now look like I have failed to get to the toilet in time.

Jack is losing interest fast. He demands to be allowed onto the ground for a kick. I am not keen to wear the five grand fine, or get pulverised by four 100kg plus security guards. Harry is tired and has eaten everything in site. Sophie takes the initiative and volunteers to take the boys home.

I had hoped the boys could stay the journey, sing the song and we walk out hand in hand. This was always going to be a long shot though. Oh well, at least they got close to half-time. We have created some precious memories, and I have learnt that taking kids to the footy is not a simple task. We will regroup and try again next year.

As I settle in by myself for the second half, the Swans hit the accelerator, and are full of run. The lethargy of a few weeks back has gone. Heeney is a class act for someone so young. He is tough, looks like he has been carved out of granite, yet has the polish and finishing skills of a veteran. I will be watching him with delight, over the next decade. Space is easy to find and we have winners across the ground.

A young Saints supporter, a few seats down, announces to his Dad midway through the quarter that he is now going for the Swans. As quick as a flash his Dad informs him that he has been cut out of the Will. Hang in there young man, your Saints will rise again.

Buddy is handed the red vest. He was rusty, as expected today, however, will be better for the run. Tippett is causing headaches for the inexperienced Saints backline, while Kennedy and Mitchell are dominant in the middle.

Adam Schneider kicks a classy goal. I, and most Swans supporters I suspect, are rapt to see the 2005 premiership hero hit the scoreboard in his final game.

The Goals continue to pile on and we run out 97 point winners. A great boost for the confidence and the percentage. Sterner tests await in the furnace of finals, however, we will go in having rediscovered some zip and form.

A guard of honour is formed as both teams farewell Schneider. Well done on a great career.

I make my way out of the ground and am hit with a wind-chill straight from the Antarctic. Spring feels like it is about 3 months away in Melbourne! I jump on the 6.10 Williamstown line train and look forward to reuniting with my little scallywags.


All Footy Almanac stories of Round 22 – St Kilda v Sydney

All Footy Almanac stories of Round 22

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About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Ross Treverton says

    Nice piece Craig. I have great memories of going to the football with my Dad, even as an adult. As the father of 3 girls who have no interest in football (where did I go wrong?), I am very jealous of all the good times you will have going to see the Swans play with your boys in the future. Pity you didn’t get to partake in one of the great traditions of father/son football and have a kick to kick on the ground. At least your boys will be able to say they saw Adam Goodes play, even if they don’t remember it. Cheer, cheer.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice work Craig, some great lines in this. Batman really does have everyone covered, reckon Bruce Wayne would easily obtain Ms Campbell’s number in a nightclub.
    Can well relate with taking young kids to the footy, though my boys were slightly older. It will get easier!

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