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Round 3 – Sydney v GWS: Us winning is just as good as them losing!

Yes, in this rugby league state, with just two teams playing our great game, a rivalry certainly seems to be developing; and Sydney supporters are gradually latching onto the long-held southern tradition of a real, fair dinkum enemy. An enemy, as that of the Collingwood/Carlton, Essendon/Hawthorn, Carlton/Richmond tradition. We are learning to despise our greater western suburbs’ neighbours.


In 2016, in an article I wrote for the Almanac, I ‘had a go’ at the Giants and their privileges, and I was told off, in no uncertain terms, by their supporters, and others.


Two years on, however, those sentiments still linger:


The AFL has to protect its baby. This protection ensures that the best kids in the land end up in the orange and grey; for seven years, they have received on average approximately 10 more 1st round picks than any other team, and this advantage – although modified – will continue. Where was this protection 34 years ago when the football gods wanted to spread our great game and dumped South Melbourne in Sydney? Where was it when the then Sydney Swans were on the brink of bankruptcy a few years later and only survived because dedicated private individuals made it possible?


Mind you, I haven’t really thought that much more about the Giants, until walking to the SCG on Saturday afternoon. They sit atop the table, they are a very good team, and most expect they could well win the Premiership this year. Yes, they could well do, and why wouldn’t they – with so many talented individuals at their disposal?


As we approach the gates, at 3.45, to watch the Reserves, thoughts of the Giants’ privileges come back to me (yes, I’ll get it over it one day!) and I find myself wanting, more than ever, for them to lose today.




It is so, so hot in Sydney. The humidity is stifling, and for the second week, I haven’t worn my Swans guernsey to the game. This has never happened before, or at least since footy jumpers were made available to the public, and stupidly imagining it to be a bad omen (as it was last week), I made sure it was packed in my bag, hoping to put it on after sundown.


The reserves kick badly and eventually lose by four points in a tight struggle, but it was good to see the more experienced players, Nic Newman, Harry Marsh, Dan Robinson, James Rose and Colin O’Riordan getting their hands on the ball and putting themselves up for senior footy at some stage.


When the big boys run out, the tension in the stands is mounting, and many – surprisingly – are predicting more of the same from last week’s ordinary performance by our boys. With our man Buddy playing further up the field, our 3.4 for the quarter, with goals to Gary Rohan, Callum Sinclair and Isaac Heeney, is a reasonable start, but far too close for my liking.


Our five-point lead disappears when Coniglio, one of their most influential players this year, goals early in the second quarter, and when Jarrad McVeigh uncharacteristically fumbles, twice, we gift them an easy goal. The ball has spent all its time in their forward line for the first ten minutes, but our star Isaac Heeney, marking everything coming his way, finally moves it into our forward line and Tommy Papley soccers it through after a mistake from Patton in the goal square. Play is scrappy and we’re dropping relatively easy marks (the ground must be damp?), but when Gary Rohan kicks a goal about five minutes before the half-time siren, we go ahead by a mere point. The Prime Minister, on the big screen, in his red and white tie, gets the customary boo from the crowd and when Sammy Reid marks strongly – with two Giants either side of him – he goals from 30 metres, straight in front. He kicks his second not long later, and we take a six-point lead into half-time. Still way too close!


The now-traditional beating of the ear-drums-music booms loudly across the SCG during the main break, and we’re all still a little worried about what could transpire in the next 60 minutes, even though it’s impossible to talk about with our friends such as the bloody loudness of the music! Even young people are complaining!


Our footy fears aren’t allayed as Cameron and Lobb kick two quick goals at the start of the third quarter, and my mind wanders back to last week. Surely we can’t let this game slip from our grasp? When Tommy Papley kicks a goal from around his body, we’re level; Callum Sinclair, who’s playing really well, brings down a great mark 20 metres out and adds a further 6-pointer, then when Shaw kicks out on the full, Luke Parker send a searing kick to Will Hayward, resulting in a goal. Three in a row!


The best play of the night follows: On our defensive 50 metre line, Jake Lloyd tackles Shiel, Nick Smith grabs the ball, handballs to Jarred McVeigh, who kicks to Kieren Jack, onto Buddy who gets it to Ollie – picks it up in one hand, handballs to Dean Towers whose perfect kick to Will Hayward is marked strongly in between the giant Patton and their other big man Reid. The crowd now erupts and our 18-point lead extends to 22 when Callum Sinclair kicks his third and our fifth consecutive goal.


The biggest cheer of the night then rings around the SCG early in the last quarter, as Taranto marks the ball two metres from the goal line, plays on, gets tackled by Dane Rampe who then taps the ball away, and we clear, out of trouble. Good stuff! Luke Parker (with his short-back-and-sides new haircut) snaps another, and Joey Kennedy, out of the congested pack of players, kicks truly 15 metres out, resulting in our seventh straight goal and a 33 point lead.


“Surely we won’t relax now”, I mutter to no-one in particular, and “we know how quickly those Giants can score” I add, to my husband, Marshall, who’s not really listening as the crowd noise is finally at a decent level. My fears are soon compounded, as they manage – or we allow them – to reduce the margin to 10 points. Four of their goals, to our none! I’m feeling decidedly sick, and as I start swearing under my breath (well, louder than that actually!), the stadium erupts and we stand as one, waving flags, screaming, laughing, OMG-ing, rejoicing! Who else, but the man himself – our star, Buddy. No goals up until now, he does what no other footy player – perhaps ever – can do: grabs the ball from the pack, runs a bit, turns his magnificent body to one side, lands the ball on his magnificent left foot, and through it sails – from 70 metres! Mind-boggling stuff, Buddy!


He follows it up with another soon after, 30 metres straight in front. Game over. A 16-point, hard-earned victory.


Now dressed in my red and white guernsey, we calm down, sing the song – very loudly – watch the presentation of the White Ribbon Cup, and cheer again when Callum Mills is voted best on ground.


We played as a team tonight. Everyone contributed, and for four quarters. That is what was required, especially against those Giants, those privileged young men who, despite being brilliant footballers, can still learn a thing or two from their eastern suburbs rivals – the Mighty Bloods! And long may it grow and last!



SYDNEY                                   3.4   7.4   12.5   16.7 (103)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY  2.5   5.10  7.13   12.15 (87)

Sydney: Sinclair 3, Rohan 2, Reid 2, Papley 2, Hayward 2, Franklin 2, Heeney, Parker, Kennedy
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 3, De Boer 2, Lloyd 2, Coniglio, Lobb, Himmelberg, Hopper, Patton 


Sydney: Mills, Heeney, Kennedy, Sinclair, Hewett, Parker,
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Shiel, Haynes, De Boer, Cameron, Hopper 


Sydney: Cunningham (leg)
Greater Western Sydney: Lobb (knee) 


Reports: de Boer (GWS) for rough conduct on Melican in the second quarter


Umpires: O’Gorman, Chamberlain, Pannell


Official crowd: 34,711 at the SCG


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. Both sides exceptionally talented and able. I’m just sad that they cannot both lose…

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Big early win by the Swans Jan.
    I share your view about the Giants being given too many concessions, but if a genuine on field rivalry can be established and thrive between the two Sydney teams, the code will be all the better for it.
    Isn’t Mills a cracking young player!

  3. Ken, interesting comment! Thanks

    Luke, hopefully Sydneysiders will eventually develop a long-lasting rivalry, even though by the time it reaches its zenith, I’ll probably be six feet under! Thanks
    ps Sidebottom was really wonderful against Carlton.

  4. Joe De Petro says

    Nice piece, Jan.

    Traditional South Melbourne fans such as yourself bring passion to supporting Sydney, something that GWS will struggle to ever have. I have been to the SCG for a few game over the last couple of years and found it an enjoyable experience, the crowd is lively and passionate. On the other hand, I am truly sick of my money being shipped North to support plastic clubs.

  5. Jan Courtin says

    Hi Joe
    Nice to receive a message/comment while waiting for our flight to Melbourne for our game this coming weekend – will spend time with family for a few days beforehand.
    I’m sure you would have enjoyed your SCG experiences, as, from memory, you’ve beaten us on each occasion.

  6. Joe De Petro says

    Not the game I went to in 2016, Jan. That was a bit dire.

    I ran into a Swans supporter in Madrid of all places over Summer. For some silly reason, he decided a ninth joke was in order. Normally, I am meek and mild but seriously, ninth jokes, with this new world order? So I pointed out that when the Swans beat Richmond by 113 points in 2016, who would have thunk that the Tigers were closer to a flag? He was very subdued from that point on. I don’t think he thought that one through.

    Good luck with the Swans for the rest of the year, Jan. i look forward to reading about your experiences.

  7. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Jan,
    Yes, it was a very good win from my vantage point in the Trumper Stand. Even performances from established and young players alike. Sinclair is doing a good job so far, ably supported by Towers who finally looks like he belongs. And Buddy .. just magnificent!
    As I purchased a ticket for a Sydney friend to come with me, I received an email survey about my SCG experience. There was a question on the music, hence I had the chance to rate it and comment. I gave it a zero for terrible due to excessive level, awful music and too much of it. I’d be happy with more footy on the screens and more player interviews.

  8. Jan Courtin says

    Not a chance in hell of changing the loudness of music at sporting events these days,I’m afraid. We’re just “too old” for the culture of today. You should have heard it at half time in Reserves! Almost twice as loud as later on.

    Talking of music, about 20 of the Courtin tribe go to Port Fairy every year – been doing so for about 20 years. The book a classroom at the
    school there with makeshift beds. We went one year. Hope you enjoyed your round of festivals!

  9. Keiran Croker says

    I was there for most of the Reserves too Jan. The music was ear splitting, and awful. I have a pretty diverse taste in music, though what was being played did not pass the muster.

    I’ve been going to Port Fairy folkie for 30 years. Though my favourite festival this year was at Yackandandah. It was lovely!

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