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Round 23 – Sydney v Richmond: We’re Minor Premiers! Is it best to finish first?

The Bloods have been Minor Premiers nine times: six as South Melbourne (for 2 premierships 1909 and 1918) and three times as Sydney Swans (for, as yet, no premierships).


Only six of the 20 Minor Premiers since 1996 have gone on to win the Flag.


I wonder if we can be the seventh, to join Essendon in 2000, Port in 2004, West Coast in 2006, Geelong in 2007, Collingwood in 2010, and Hawthorn in 2013?


I’ve never been one for favourites. I certainly don’t like my team being the favourite at any time, let alone at this time of the year. Look at 2014 (we were also Minor Premiers), and what happened on that last day of September! For some reason, I would always prefer to be the underdog. Maybe, my South Melbourne days have something to do with that!


Well, we were not the underdog on Saturday afternoon, despite Richmond having beaten us in five of the past seven encounters, including the last three. That “bogey” team. Even the term makes me shudder. Negativity immediately stamps itself in the mind and as the imprint embeds itself deeper and deeper, even the players start to believe it. Wretched, horrible “bogey” thoughts, go away!


With the Ladder for 2016 giving supporters from all the top eight Clubs much to ponder this last month or so – or in my case, worry about might be more apt – who would have expected Hawthorn to drop from the top, Adelaide to have lost its final game, GWS to book a top-4 spot, and the Mighty Bloods to finish at the top of the heap?! Whoopee!


The Swans made sure on Saturday afternoon, at the SCG, that those nasty “bogey team” thoughts had well and truly been obliterated from their minds and they did what I expected and hoped they would do – annihilate the opposition.


Gary Rohan’s first goal shows their intent. Only a minute into the game he receives a beautiful, long handpass from Aliir Aliir, and from the backline bursts through the packs, ignoring outstretched arms calling for the ball in the forward line, and slams it through. We are “on”. Further goals to Buddy, Benny McGlynn, Tommy Mitchell and Luke Parker see us with a lead of 30 points. The six behinds were ever so slightly disappointing, and the game could have been over at the first break. I am a little nervous, despite the good beginning. The implications of a loss are too dreadful to contemplate.


For the first five minutes of the second quarter Richmond has more use of the footy and when they kick their first goal, reducing our lead to just 25 points, my nervousness is still with me. 25 points is nothing in today’s game! However, after a further nine goals, and only three behinds, to just one point from the Tigers, it is time to relax and enjoy it!


At half time I head off down to the General Admission area where Keiran Croker is sitting. We meet for the first time, since our Almanac on-line introduction, and Tom Bally and Mathilde have also arrived from the O’Reilly Stand to meet up with Keiran. There are a few hugs all round. Nice to meet Tom for the first time too. We chat about the game and our 81 point lead and when I mention I’d been nervous until about half way through the second quarter, Mathilde finds it hard to believe. Difference in personality, perhaps, or difference in age, perhaps – with me having had far longer to be nervous about my team – or just difference? However, before the match, I was relieved to know that Matt, a young Swans guy (30 is very young to me!) who has been attending since he was small kid, also gets very nervous before and during games, so age is obviously irrelevant.


At the beginning of the third quarter when Buddy performs another piece of his magic and kicks truly from outside the 50 metre line, it becomes quite obvious that the we’ll take it easy now approach hasn’t been considered, and the onslaught continues. Another eight goals are added to their one and at times it seems like a training drill for the Swans. On many occasions the ball simply travels from the backline to the forwards, with no Richmond player either in sight or showing any fight. With a lead of 100 points not long before the siren, a Mexican Wave gets going – much to my annoyance – (a Mexican Wave at the footy!!?) and it only ceases when Buddy kicks his sixth. Benny McGlynn and his fifth straight goal get the crowd roaring. It is so good to have him back in the side, and playing well. We all love Benny and I hope he’ll keep his spot in the team for the finals.


At the start of the last quarter I’m really hoping we can keep their score to just the 2.6 but, as often happens when a team is so far ahead – 123 points at this stage – they either tire, or relax, knowing that their place on the ladder is secure. That’s what happened. We added a further three goals to Richmond’s five.


We win by 113 points and there are smiles all round. I try and imagine how the Richmond supporters must be feeling, and I’m so pleased that I belong to the winners tonight. Long gone are those terrible thrashings handed out to the Bloods of old, but I still remember them well. What a great win. We didn’t just beat that “bogey” team, we obliterated them!


We certainly won’t have such an easy task come September, but if we can continue in this form, who knows where we will end up?


All finals teams will get their rest next weekend, and we have to hope that this new experiment will be beneficial for all (except our opposition!!), and not stop the momentum that is so important in this cut-throat game of today.


But one thing is for sure: The Mighty Bloods will be there fighting onwards to victory, and hopefully ensuring that our Minor Premiership really means that in this year, 2016, we can go one further. And, they’ll be making absolutely sure that the thunder is not only shaking, but exploding down the from the sky!


Go the Mighty Bloods!


My highlights from the game:
All players, but especially:
Buddy and his seven goals
Benny McGlynn and his five goals
Gary Rohan and his four goals
The entire midfield – how great they are
Isaac Heeney
And, being able to sit in my seat without being nervous for the entire game!

Just finished watching Hawthorn/Collingwood. Wanted desperately for Hawthorn to lose and for us to play at the SCG – where we should be able to play, not at that horrible ANZ Stadium. Barracking for Collingwood as if they were my team! Well, almost!

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.


  1. Thanks Jan, the superstitions we carry around football are very interesting, the Swans finishing top of the ladder this year is really due to percentage there are no false claims from within that they are better and will have to work doubly hard to even make it to the GF.

    Just wish the Hawks lost, whoever loses next week in the Sydney Derby will have to deal with them as I see Geelong more capable. GWS beating hawks at Spotless would be good to see.

  2. Ross Treverton says

    Nice post Jan. Sometimes I think I’m so burdened by the experiences of the 60’s and 70’s, that even seeing a Richmond jumper is enough to make me nervous. Much less that 1 point loss earlier in the year! It’s as though no victory is a given until the final siren. Might be a good place to start some counselling with a psych! Terrific win by the boys and I echo your sentiments about Benny McGlynn. Cheer, cheer

  3. jan courtin says

    Thanks Dave and Ross
    I’m not actually superstitious, Dave, but the stats came to my head after the game.

    Ross, I certainly understand the burdens from the early years. Our memories are so embedded and our responses so ingrained!

    Let’s just hope we’re a happy lots of Bloods come October!
    Cheer cheer

  4. A wonderful win against those Tigers, Jan. And, again, a great article. All we can do is just perform our absolute best, week after week, and hopefully we’ll be there at the finish!
    Cheer Cheer

  5. Tony Courtin says

    Well Jan,now the real stuff begins. Before the season commenced I mentioned to Sam we may go all the way this year, and his response was tantamount to suggesting I consult a Psychiatrist. I also said to Liz about 2 months ago that the big dance would feature us and Geelong. Cannot recall a tighter finish to a home and away season. See you in Sydney for your book launch. Go bloods.

  6. jan courtin says

    Many thanks Marcel and Tony

    I sure hope your premonitions are right, Tony, and yes, Marcel, hopefully we’ll be there at the finish.

    Will be a much tougher opposition in GWS, than on Saturday!
    Cheer cheer

  7. Keiran Croker says

    Great to catch up in person Jan. It was good to have such an emphatic win. Benny back in form, puts the pressure on a few others with Millsy to return. We have some good players in reserve should we get some injuries. Looking forward to the finals!!!

  8. jan courtin says

    Hi Keiran
    Got our tickets this morning for the first final! Two hours waiting for Ticketek, but at least we got them.
    Should be a good game, but I’m not interested in whether it’s good or not! Just want to win!
    Cheer Cheer

  9. Stirring stuff Jan.

    I was stunned by that handpass from Aliir. He can count his Firsts games on his fingers and deliver a handball into a bucket (Gary’s hands) 30 or 35 metres away! Shades of Polly Farmer.

    I love the urgency of your desire to win. Let’s hope it is fully gratified.

  10. jan courtin says

    Nice to hear from you Don. Hope you enjoyed your holiday.

    What more can be said? The boys just have to play to their absolute best and all we can do is hope!!

    Cheer cheer

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