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Round 4 – Sydney v Melbourne: Change, and the challenges ahead

 

What is it about change that elicits so many varied emotions? Some resist it and fear the unknown, others welcome it with open arms. Anticipation and new opportunities come into play, and then anxiety takes over – that non–productive, negative state of mind that gets us absolutely nowhere.

 

Change is certainly challenging me at the moment. A new city (Melbourne), a new home (when we find one), different weather, different beaches, different landscape, different travelling arrangements to footy games, and – to top it off – a very different Swans team.

 

Changes in our footy teams are nothing new. Year after year we adapt, and indeed, they adapt. They learn new structures, new game plans, and they get on with the job. It can take years for a team to gel and become successful, and the Swans sit right up there at the top of the list in their achievements these past two decades.

 

After last Thursday night’s game against the Demons, it dawned on me that perhaps I need to accept that there are tough times ahead for my team, and that I will need to adjust my expectations.

 

Gone – maybe – are the heady days of the past 20 years. Maybe. Not only have we maintained a winning culture in that time but we’ve almost miraculously done it without crashing to the bottom of the pack. How many other teams have such a record? And we (the fans) have taken it for granted that, not only would we win most weeks, but that winning at home was a given. The SCG was our castle, we rarely lost there. No longer it seems, with six losses from the past seven games.

 

***

 

Our trip up to Sydney on Thursday afternoon was definitely a change in routine. Never, in all of my 70 years of supporting my beloved Bloods, have I travelled from Melbourne to Sydney for a game. We travelled from Brisbane to Sydney for the Sydney Swans Football Club’s first game there in 1982, and many subsequent ones whilst living in Queensland, but never from Melbourne. Living in Sydney all these years has been a blessing.

 

This trip was certainly different. Getting off the train at Central and walking past our apartment in Surry Hills knowing we no longer had the keys to the building felt strange. Walking a different route to the SCG felt strange, and walking back to the hotel left me feeling disoriented and a little sad. Sad that the Swans had played such a terrible game and sad, in some ways, that Sydney was no longer home. I’ll get used to it. I have to.

 

After Thursday night’s dismal performance against Melbourne it might take a little time to get used to the win/loss ratio of my footy team. After leading by 22 points early in the second quarter – which could well have been much more had we not missed easy set shots on goal in the first term – we were well and truly beaten from then on. Intensity was lacking, mistakes by hand and foot were aplenty, we seemed slow, and generally we were second rate. It was extremely disappointing.

 

On reflection, while trying to sleep in a hotel in Sydney (also a first), my thoughts turned to the inexperience of our team. So many new faces, still kids a lot of them. New coaches too, some inexperienced. It will take time, and we must bide that time, along with the team, to experience the highs of a sustained winning culture once again.

 

Waiting at Sydney airport for our 2–hour delayed flight back to Melbourne, Marshall commented, “Where are we?”

Astonished, I replied, “Sydney, why do you ask?”

“It feels really strange, sitting here waiting for a plane so late at night and flying to Melbourne instead of home to Sydney….it’s felt strange all day, walking past our apartment, walking to a hotel after the game, coming to the airport the next day – it just feels strange.”

 

It made sense, perfect sense.

 

Change. Like it or leave it, we have it. And, we need it.

 

 

 

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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

Comments

  1. Earl O'Neill says

    Neat piece, Jan. The only constant is change.
    I lived in or near Surry Hills from my late teens to late twenties, twas my dreamtime, my ley lines run between houses and pubs – or sites thereof, Trade Union Club is thirty years gone, Hopetoun Hotel ten. Very occasionally I have cause to drive thru the old hometown and, while it is physically little changed, the feeling is utterly different.
    Last time I went to the SCG was the match against Melbourne in ’16. A very wet day, we rode in and had just dismounted when I saw a woman walking past and thought “Blimey, is that Jan Courtin?” Preoccupied with gloves and helmet, I didn’t call out.
    Never miss a chance.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Admire the effort to travel back to Sydney, will this be a regular occurrence in 2019 for you?
    What a 20 odd years the Swans have had, and given that history I’m not prepared to write them off yet.

  3. Hi Earl and Luke
    “Blimey, is that Jan Courtin?” Could well have been Earl, we’ll never know. Had a few people, after the book came out, coming up to me. One, at the 2016 Grannie, approached me saying “You’re that leftie who wrote a book about the Swans”. Spot on! At least that aspect of me came through.

    And, yes, Luke, I’ve booked flights (and planning two drives) to our away games up until the end of June at this stage, incl Brissie and Hobart. Made sure I’ve taken out insurance, as it will all depend on health issues. I’ll certainly be trying my darndest to get to the matches!

    Thanks

  4. Jan, a really lovely article. You really make the reader understand how you feel. And, yes, change – inevitable – is bloody hard

  5. Hi Jan, enjoyed your article and yes – change is inevitable although my tastes in music hasn’t altered much over the years. I love songs with a good beat and can’t stand rap crap. Anyway, as we all know, the weather is probably the most changeable of all hot and / or humid one day and freezing the next. The pollies are still arguing over how much humankind is helping it along.

    As far as the footy is concerned, I still cannot understand how the Crows (who are playing disgracefully at present) managed to defeat your beloved Swans. a few weeks ago. Talk about changeable.

    By the way, whilst I haven’t written a book about either the Crows or my beloved Norwood footy club, I have still had 3 books on baseball published. the first of which was regarding the beginning of Night Baseball in SA. Baseball also has changed quite dramatically over the years. Over here in South Oz it was really big in the fifties, sixties and the early seventies. Now nobody really cares.- our games have become too Americanised.

  6. Thanks Julie.

    Fisho: Talking of baseball, I knew nothing much at all about it before spending 2 stints of 6 months in the States, back in the late 80s. We went to most games in Oakland, and then in Pittsburgh. Really enjoyed the game. Thanks for your comment.

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