Round 3 – Sydney v GWS: A rivalry in the making

Great to be home at the SCG! I would love to have said “spiritual home” but, even after 30 odd years here in Sydney, “spiritual home”, for me, is still the Lake Oval in South Melbourne. The home of Bobby Skilton, Freddie Goldsmith, Ronny Clegg, Billy Gunn, Eddie Lane, Brian McGowan, Mickey Siburn, Hughie McLaughlin, Jimmy Dorgan, Ian Gillett, Johnny Rantall, and so many more. The home that I still return to when we go to Melbourne for Swans games and the cricket each year; the home of that wonderful old Members grandstand where my formative years were spent developing my passion and love for the Swans.

These memories take me back to my well worn scrapbooks from the 1950’s: old Sporting Globearticles, Argus write-ups, Kornies player cards, Membership cards – all 18 games clipped, and hundreds of South players’ autographs – I’ve just counted at least 30 of Bobby Skilton’s! I feel compelled to scan, cut and paste and reproduce images of my favourite champions of the era, not only South champions but our Brownlow Medallists from those times.

Jan Courtin Skilton-Clegg-Goldsmith No2

 

Yesteryear often lingers but is now easily replaced by our current champions and what our wonderful Bloods have achieved since being sent to Sydney all those years ago – especially the achievements these past 10 years. Moving to Sydney ourselves in 1998, to be closer to my beloved Swans, has certainly paid off!

 

Today’s footy, against the Giants, starts early. I love seeing our future champions play in the reserves games, and especially today – Goodsey has joined them. It’s been rescheduled to start at 10.30am at the training ground opposite the SCG, so I’m looking forward to a lovely long day of footy. Despite the media hype this week, we all know Adam will be back – the champion that he is – doing what he does best and helping us to get to that last day in September.

 

We walk to the oval and sit on the ground to watch the game. The rain that was forecast has been replaced by very warm sunshine, and despite their efforts our future champions lose the game to the young Giants. Goodsey played well. He covered just about all positions and kicked three goals. We were happy for him, and the couple of hundred Swans fans cheered him throughout the game. As we should.

 

We walk back home, and I fill in the three hours or so before the main game watching some of the two other games that are being recorded. Great starts by Melbourne and Carlton, but I doubt they can maintain the pressure. No time to see the results, so off we go, back to the SCG.

 

Our current champions are preparing to run through the banner. The Giants are already out on the ground and the sight of Mummy triggers the “Oh how I wish he was still with us” thoughts. The song is played and those thoughts soon dissipate. The O’Reilly Stand sings along. We sing the true and correct version: “…..whether the odds be great……” and not the bastardised one that gets played at all grounds: “……what though the odds….”. I’ve written to the Swans asking what can be done about it, before it’s too late – the younger supporters are now singing “what though” – but that version plays on, to my despair!

 

The ball is bounced in hot 28 degrees humid conditions, and for a very fleeting second the memory of the loss in the first round last year flashes before me, soon to be replaced by last week’s blood and guts effort in Adelaide; the confidence is high as the game begins. Two great tackles from Macca and Gazza show our intent. The ball spills from the pack and within 3 minutes Heeney (don’t know his nickname yet – I’ll call him Heens for the time being) picks up cleanly and goals. Good start. Jeremy Cameron – what a great player he is already – misses 2 shots but goals for their first. It is high pressure footy but the Giants appear to have more of the ball for the first 15 minutes. That changes when Benny passes to Buddy and from 50 metres he swings onto that wonderful left foot and goals. Benny is in everything and when Heens goals again from a free, we’re 8 points up. Shawry, constantly clearing off half back, is certainly helping our cause, and when Heens gets involved again and handballs to Kizza, we’re on our way. Hanners intercepts wonderfully when Phil Davis kicks to Thomas Bugg, and another goal gives us a 15 point lead.

 

The second quarter starts with a slick handball from Heens to Kizza but he misses, and when a goal a few minutes later results from the ball going from Macca to Birdy to Tippo to Parker (forgotten his nickname) to Heens and then to Bud, 15-20 metres out, play of the day has now been established. Shawry clears again, and Benny lays a great tackle, gets a free and goals. I’m loving Benny’s comeback game. There are a few nervous moments as Buddy stands frozen on our backline – too many decisions to make – then decides to kick across goal to Rampe – bad kick – misses him, the ball goes to Grundy who clears to Teddy, back to Reg, he drops the ball, Ryan Griffen then handballs to a team mate and his grubber kick for goal is smothered by Sammy. What a relief, Buddy is no doubt thinking. Jetts then works some magic on the wing, but the Giants get the ball back and Rhys Palmer goals with 25 minutes gone. Benny then lays a great tackle on Toby Green (like this kid) and the next play of the day is upon us: Joey kicks it forward to Buddy who punches the ball clear, Heens grabs it, produces an amazing flick/handpass to Buddy who, with sheer strength, pushes aside Patfull and Heath Shaw, turns onto his left foot and pops it through. Great play. After the centre bounce the crowd shrieks; I missed what happened, as the ball was by now in our forward line, but Mummy had been reported. I can’t boo Mummy! Parker goals from a 50 metre penalty and we’re going along well. The third play of the day is now about to happen: Jetts runs from half back gets the ball to Gazza and then to Birdy, who in turn kicks into the goal square. Parker grabs the ball, trips, takes 3 steps whilst falling forward, and in the horizontal position drops the ball onto the ground and manages to make contact with his instep or heel and the ball rolls into the goal. A miracle goal and probably never to have been seen before or indeed again! With only a few seconds left in the quarter Pykey kicks the ball out of the air and the blond haired beauty flies again. He goals from 50 metres out, after the siren, and we’re 35 points up.

 

The third quarter doesn’t start too well for us. McCarthy kicks two quick goals, and after a great goal from the boundary line by Ryan Griffen – all in 5 minutes – I’m getting a bit nervous. Why have we relaxed I think to myself. Surely the players know what these young Giants are capable of. Not long later, Benny seems to kick a great goal but for some reason it’s disallowed. Boos from the crowd. Tippo then misses his only shot on goal for the day, and then after several good GWS handballs deep in their forward line, Rampe’s short stab at the ball is cut off by Rhys Palmer who kicks a brilliant snap from the boundary line, just on the point post. Four goals from them in the first 12 minutes of the quarter and now only 14 points the difference. “Carn the Bloods” I yell at the top of my voice. I’m high up in the O’Reilly Stand and realise they can’t hear me, but I just have to yell anyway. I then try and get the SYDNEEEY chant going, it gets going, and seems to work! Goals to Birdy, Jetts, Kizza and another 50 metre on the fenceline from the Bud, which aims right then curls left, brings joy to the red and white crowd. We’re now 39 points up.

 

I say to my husband “Surely Horse will drum it into the players at three quarter time that we can’t allow the Giants to do as they did at the beginning of the third quarter”. 15 minutes or so later: Oh dear, they’ve done it again, and the young Giants have kicked 3 goals and look full of running. We’re now only 21 points up and again I’m a little anxious. Our boys are looking tired and I’m hoping that the energy that was sapped from them against Port isn’t going to tell on them in the remaining 15 minutes. It doesn’t. Bud and Heens are working wonderfully together, as they’ve done all day, and when Buddy gets the ball to our blond future champion, all sorts of courage is on the line. He’s very close to the point post and realises he probably will have to crash into it in order to get a goal, and that’s exactly what he does. Kicks it out of mid air, twirls around as the ball goes through and wraps himself around the post. He goes onto the bench with a smile on his face, ice on his knees and seems content with his 3rd game performance. We love this blond kid!

 

We win by 21 points. We’ve done what we had to do, and we’ve won the first three games. We wave our flags, sing the song and watch Hanners get the Brett Kirk Medal for his BOG performance.

 

We walk home and watch the game again on Fox. I’m happy with my day: Seen two matches live; watched our game on tele; watched half of the Essendon/Carlton game; 1st quarter of Melb/Adelaide game, and done lots of walking. I’m also happy in the knowledge that tomorrow, Sunday, will bring more footy: the rest of the Essendon/Carlton and Melb/Adelaide games and the other 5 remaining games of the round – all of which have been recorded, and the results of which I do not want to know beforehand, and don’t know. I’ll probably squeeze in another replay of the Swannies during the week.

 

I go to bed thinking of the Swans, the game, past games, the history, the past champions, the current champions and wonder about the future champions. I also wonder whether Bloods supporters, 30 odd years on from now, will be calling the SCG their “Spiritual Home”. I’m sure they will. Pity I won’t be here to see it!

 

My highlights from the game:

Heeney’s composure, bravery and 4 goals

Franklin’s 5 goals

Franklin’s missed 5 goals

Hannebery’s best on ground performance

Shaw’s running out of defence

Parker’s freakish goal

and GWS: They’ve taken giant strides and will be right up there sooner than later. They are good.

 

 

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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. www.myswansloveaffair.com

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