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Round 23 – Sydney v Hawthorn: Stayin’ alive. Just.

As a Swans fan there are very few things to feel bad about. A nearly unrivaled run of finals appearances, a couple of premierships (in my time at least) and a team of senior stars and up and coming youngsters.

 

But losing to Hawthorn takes top place on the unpleasant side of the ledger.

 

Having to lash together coherent words about that loss runs a close second.

 

My notes and memory may fail me here but having to watch the game again will be the final nail in that particular coffin. I’d sooner tune into fourth division soccer than review that hideous last quarter. Seventeenth placed Grimsby are looking a better prospect than that. Yes, eighty eye-glazing minutes resulting in a one nil score ought to be enough to numb the memory of the funeral trudge out of the SCG last night. Anything to avoid hearing that ‘Happy team’ theme twice in one weekend.

 

In hindsight the outcome shouldn’t have been a surprise. If there’s one team that somehow manages to sneak over the top it’s the Hawks. But after a fine chicken schnitzel and shiraz at a local watering hole I was feeling confident and composed. Memories of our last win against that lot; Rohan intercepting across half forward, Ronke running riot. Even the late withdrawal of Buddy and Parker didn’t dent the optimism.

 

Never take your eyes off your opponent even when bowing.

 

Bruce Lee said that and if there’s anyone who knew a thing or two about getting kicked in the nuts at the last second, it’d be him.

 

We got to the ground just late enough to avoid hearing the Happy song. Good to see Reg back out there. Dawson and Fox replacing Buddy and Parker. No sign of Towers. Saving him for finals was the considered opinion in our section of the O’Reilly. Mr. September.

 

It was a tight tussle of a first quarter. Low scoring. No sign of the promised rain but slippery underfoot. Various sorties up each wing but nothing presented itself. Sinclair stuffed up a kick through the middle. The ball made its way back into defence and up the far wing again. Heeney won a free kick and banana kicked a goal. Kennedy tried his luck with a long-range effort, the ball bouncing and bouncing before brushing the post to a chorus of groans. Our defense got tested but held strong. Up in the forward fifty McCartin couldn’t quite make the mark stick but his second effort set up Papley to rove and score. Rampe’s horrible kick out of defence was picked off but The Enemy were strangely offline. After another bad clearance though they weren’t. Missed tackles led to another goal to them. Sinclair’s long bomb got touched on the line. Dawson picked off a kick across half forward but foolishly played on squandering a certain chance. One point down at the end of the first.

 

It was a more dominant Swans outfit in the second quarter and they reaped the rewards. Hayward’s point-blank miss early on made me think it was going to be one of those nights but Jack and Florent’s goals restored the faith. Defensively we seemed a little jittery, dropping marks, and some of the forward entries lacked polish but the pressure was much better. The lead opened up to three goals. The Enemy got a bit of a late run on, reading us like a book out of defence. Thankfully it didn’t prove too costly on the scoreboard. The Enemy of old would’ve made us pay. Seemingly the timekeeper had dozed off; a thirty plus minute quarter. In the stands we were sweating on the siren.

 

Like a mutant cross of Jason Voorhees and Tony Abbott, The Enemy became a thing that wouldn’t go away. Waltzing out of defence and into their forward fifty too easily. Sinclair disappeared for a long stretch of time. Hannebery was taken out Grand Final 2016 style, somehow managing to hobble his way back into the game. The Enemy got two goals, swarming all over our defence before Papley and Cunningham replied in kind. Beyond that it seemed we were fighting against the tide and only just ahead.

 

There’s not much to say about the last term. I was still feeling optimistic after McCartin’s early goal. But that confidence dipped after two Enemy scores. Sinclair nudged us ahead. Opportunities went begging. Plenty of forward entries but just a point here, a point there. Meanwhile The Enemy having figured us out were finding space, getting cleaner ball use and hitting targets. Swiftly lifting vs. fumble crumble. Even the rarity of getting favorable calls wasn’t helping us here. Another long quarter although by then I couldn’t see us coming from behind. As the game slipped away I noticed more and more Enemy colours in the stands. A ghastly yellow and brown outbreak around the SCG.

 

The siren mercifully sounded ending a frustrating game that we should’ve won. A hollow coda to a mixed bag home and away season.

 

As the ground emptied we said our farewells to the friends around us. Shambling along the cattle run out to Anzac Parade I felt like Sheldon Cooper when he once again gets outfoxed by his nemesis. CLARKSON!!!!

 

Still no point dwelling on the coulda, woulda, shoulda any longer. We’re in the finals, a prospect that was seemingly impossible a few weeks ago. Disappointing that we don’t have the double chance but doing it easy has never really been the Swans way.

 

And if all goes drastically wrong there’s always Grimsby FC.

 

About Tom Bally

Born in 1834 Tom Bally was instrumental in establishing the rules of the modern game. It's a little known fact and the rare times he talks about it all he'll say is "that bloody Wills chap got me full of grape one night and the next thing I know he's peacocking around Richmond Paddock like he dreamt up the whole thing on his lonesome. Still I got the last laugh didn't I eh? Introducing the Umpire and all that."

Comments

  1. Hawthorn, bloody Hawthorn!!

  2. Keiran Croker says:

    Towers has a line through his name … but I don’t know why!
    Yes, Hawthorn just finds a way … though it does make 2012 feel sweet!

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