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Round 22 – St Kilda v Sydney: When worlds collide

 

As a proud and loyal Swan by birthright and a policeman by occupation, it is not often that these worlds collide. But on occasions they do, and when that happens it is bittersweet. Once every so often, a perusal of my work roster will bring up a Swans Melbourne-based fixture; on this occasion, the Saints Round 22 clash at Etihad. A game I would normally be going to watch in all my red and white finery, suddenly becomes one where I wear the ‘all blue colours of the club’. On such occasions, I pay allegiance to my beloved Bloods by wearing Swans socks and wearing my membership badge on the inside of my jacket. So far, the cursory inspection by senior officers of my uniform at the pre-game parade, has failed to reveal these irregularities – and so it continues today.

 

The pre-game briefing inside the bowels of Etihad Stadium brings forth the usual expectations; keep a look out for trouble-makers, racist and inappropriate comments, don’t stay in the one spot watching the game (easier said than done) and generally ensure the spectators can enjoy the day. I meet my partner, and immediately offer up my allegiance to the Swans as the reason why I may not be engaging in too much small talk as we stroll around the concourse of Level 1. She kindly accepts my apology and spends much of the game ‘high-fiving’ the numerous children for whom the uniform is more a source of friendship than fear – thank goodness.

 

I am not a supporter who sits with ease watching the play and hoping for a ‘good’ game. By definition, a ‘good game’ for me is one where we lead by five goals at quarter time, and increase that at each break culminating in a 100 point victory. I ride every kick and handpass, rejoice in every red and white goal and sweat nervously over every opposition foray into their forward line, no matter what the state of the game. Sweet release is only achieved when the final siren rings out and the public address system blares out that most noble of football songs.

 

No trouble is expected at the game, but as I walk around the ground, studying the game a little more than my superiors would like, it is hard not to respond to some of the inane and juvenile comments directed, it must be said, by a minority of Saints supporters. Nothing requiring them to be spoken to about, but childish all the same. As tempting as it is to honour one of the great traditions of the game and encourage the miscreant to ‘have a look at the scoreboard’, I simply move on. It’s not always that easy.

 

The Swans supporters in Melbourne (as they are in Sydney) are a magnificent lot. Generally bred from a South Melbourne heritage, they have endured enough lean times to never take for granted the success of the club over the past 20 years. I’m always proud of the numbers we make up in the Melbourne games, if not a 50/50 split, then something pretty close to it. I see familiar faces, but get no hint of recognition when eyes meet; I am out of context. The crowd is generally well-behaved (the booing of Goodsey is minimal but still not appreciated by 99% of the crowd) and the Swans are on-song and playing well. I meet each of the Swans goals with a single clap of the hands, as if annoyed by an errant mosquito. The game appears close to fulfilling my definition of a ‘good game’ and by the last quarter, I allowing myself the luxury of admiring Adam Schneider in his last game, and Sean Dempster – two former Swans who have a special place in our history as premiership players.

 

The final siren has the Swans victors by 97 points and the tune of the ‘Notre Dame March’ reverberates around the ground – you have to love a football song that is accompanied by a banjo solo in the middle! The Swans faithful rise to their feet and sing with gusto; I allow myself a quiet humming of the words and tapping in time of the feet. The Swans players to a man, go to Adam Schneider. As expected, they also honour him by joining with the Saints players in clapping him from the field. I’m not sure what the actual dictionary definition of ‘culture’ and ‘class’ is, but our club has it in spades. I make my way to the city end of the ground, every bit as enamoured by the boys’ performance as the most ardent supporter with nothing else on their mind but cheer, cheering on the players. Teddy Richards gets chaired off for his 250th game, wearing a grin as wide as Luna Park. The song gets another airing, the players high-five the adoring masses lining the fence line, and soon after, the ground is engulfed by future red and white heroes having a kick to kick with their Dads and a few Mums.

 

Ours is a club to be proud of (‘Proudly Sydney’) but whenever they gather together in Melbourne, it is hard for us ‘old’ South Melbourne supporters, to not feel a tinge of nostalgia. Every victory is a good victory. The game has fulfilled my definition of a ‘good game’ (or as close as it can possibly get). Job done, I change into my Swans jacket and cap and join my fellow Swans as we congregate at Southern Cross station for the trip home.  A lone voice starts up a rendition of ‘Cheer, cheer the red and the white’. Others soon join in and before long, the whole carriage on the Frankston train is in full voice; none more so than me. As my dear departed grand-mother would say after every South victory from her vantage point in the red brick stand at the Lake Oval, “Go you mighty blood stained angels!”

 

 

All Footy Almanac stories of Round 22 St Kilda v Sydney

All Footy Almanac stories of Round 22

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About

Ross Treverton is a third generation Swans supporter who grew up on family stories about Pratt, Nash and Matthews. He was then fortunate to see Skilton, Bedford, Kelly et al. 3 daughters with no interest in sport means his AFL watching is confined to the television and regular duties at the MCG and Etihad as a police officer.

Comments

  1. jan courtin says:

    Ross: Let’s say it our loud, imagining we’re in the red brick stand at Lake Oval: “Go you mighty blood stained angels!”
    Fantastic story. Love it. It’s great when the train erupts in footy songs. It doesn’t happen here in Sydney as much as in footy States, but on the way back from ANZ a few times it has happened.
    Yes, it’s true that when we play in Melbourne the crowd is normally half/half. I’ve noticed that at all Melbourne games this year; the cheer squad is usually double in size as well, compared to the Sydney squad.
    I love seeing small kids in Swans guernseys in Melbourne too – shows that family tradition will not be killed off.
    I look forward to more of your stories!
    Many thanks
    Cheer Cheer
    Jan

  2. Ross,
    Brilliant debut.
    Just brilliant.
    Whatever the www-equivalent of a high five is, I’m doing that now.

  3. Keiran Croker says:

    I’ll be checking on socks in future to see if you are allocated our game …. Hopefully the one on the first Sat in October! Well done Ross!

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Loved this Ross, especially the way that you have to express with a single clap what the rest of us can do with unbridled passion. How do you show disgust or disappointment? Well played.

  5. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Cheer Cheer Ross. What a line to straddle!
    Glad you got to put on the jacket and belt out a tune.
    We like to ‘scat’ the banjo solo in the O’Reilly.

  6. Ross Treverton says:

    Thank you all for the comments and positive feedback. I generally enjoy working at the football and getting to see the players we all admire from other clubs, strut their stuff without having to worry about the result.
    I did work the Swans game at Etihad a few years back when Goodsey had a shot after the siren to win the game against Essendon and missed. Not much I could do there but grimace and bear it!
    I’ve often thought about penning a piece regarding the trials and tribulations of policing a ‘big game’ Friday night game at the MCG-definitely a different prospect to Sunday afternoon matches!
    Again, thanks to each of you.
    Cheer, cheer
    Ross

  7. Brilliant Ross, the most impressive debut since I. Heeney.

    A Bloods-filled train and a reference to ‘look at the scoreboard’…Fantastic!

  8. Love it, Ross. In Queensland coppers could asked to be rostered on for sports events (I was told) and those sessions were called ‘specials’. They were over and above normal duties. What days they were! The Gabba Hill interacting with the Queensland police force. They didn’t have a paddy wagon, they had a paddy truck. (Enclosed)

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Fantastic debut well played love your passion for the Swans

  10. Tony Courtin says:

    Great narration,Ross. Now I must read Jan’s and your write-ups each week. I hope one day my youngest son,Sam,a Swans fanatic who is close to commencing his Victoria Police training,and you,can attend a Swans game together. It could be very entertaining observing two Swans fanatics in uniform trying to remain “official” in a nail-biting last quarter of a game involving our team! Cheer cheer.

  11. Neil Belford says:

    Call down the thunder from the sky. Brilliant Ross, and it is definitely the best song of all.
    We’ll be seeing your boys at Subi in about 10 days time I suppose. My version of a good game is exactly the same as yours, except it’s purple.

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