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Round 7 — Brisbane v Sydney: But that’s OK


4 May, 2019


People have been saying for years that the Sydney streak would end. Season after season, and slow start after slow start. Sitting at 1-3 heading into Round 5 in 2014, the vultures were circling. The Sydney Swans, as a premiership threat, were dying. We proved them wrong and made the Grand Final (the result wasn’t amazing but still, we made it at least).


In 2017, 0-6, coming off a loss to Carlton at the MCG and little reason for hope … surely now the Swans were gone? A few months later, Sydney played in a pulsating game against Adelaide and won, cementing themselves as the only team to make finals after starting with six straight losses.
In late 2018, Sydney lost to Gold Coast at home after failing to fire a shot in the final three quarters. Finally they were goners. Nope, they still made the finals.


This year, the critics are writing us off again. This time, though … they might be right. We look slow, we look unable to score heavily, and we fall away for patches of games in which we concede a tidal wave of goals, making a comeback near impossible (though we make it interesting more often than not). We look like we might miss finals for the first time since 2009. And you know what? That’s all right. Missing finals for, what, only the second or third time since the middle of the 1990’s? Yeah, I’m OK with that.


Today we play the Lions, arguably the surprise packets of the competition. They have been having an awesome year so far. It continues for them early in this match, kicking the first within a minute to Hugh McCluggage. Charlie Cameron adds another not long after due to some clever forwards play. Another comes through Cutler. His name is apt as the Lions are cutting us into little pieces. Brisbane play so well. We do not. We don’t play horribly. But our skills let us down. The Lions are so unbelievably quick. They score five goals for the quarter, we have one.


Second term. Sydney surge. All of a sudden, it is a different game. We are the ones on top. We run, we hunt, we chase. We score, we carve, we dominate. Six goals in the second quarter. The Lions don’t score until ten minutes into the term. They kick two goals themselves. Their 28-point lead has dwindled to two. The never-say die spirit of the Swans is showing in full force tonight.


Third stanza. The heavens open up. The scene at the Gabba is that of India during the monsoon season. Brisbane score the first two during the biblical downpour. Papley keeps us in it with two remarkable goals, both good chances to feature in 2019 highlight reels on YouTube. It’s close, it’s tight, and it’s slippery. Turnovers kill both teams. Hipwood kicks a ripper with ten seconds remaining to extend Brisbane’s lead to 15 points at the siren. We have a game on our hands.


Final quarter. It’s a Mexican standoff for the first fifteen minutes or so. Goalless minutes bleed and flow into each other. It’s tense. Sydney kick a point, Brisbane kick a point. Rinse and repeat.


Then we break. Brisbane (with a little bit of help from the umpires) get a run on. We fight and fight, but ultimately, like so many games this year, it’s another honourable loss. Our first defeat against the Lions in ten years, in the end, is by 22 points.


Like so many games this year, we are undone by a horrible twenty-minute stretch. Like a couple of other losses this year, that stretch comes in the first quarter. Still, the signs are good. That second term was awesome.


We aren’t dead yet, but we are the walking wounded. We might not make finals this year, but that’s OK. Win, lose, or draw, I love my Swans.

About Caspar McLeod

Third Culture Kid at Heart. Grew up in Asia, discovered footy at age 9. AFL has since been my burning passion. Ask me who were the winners all the grand finals between 1938 and last year's decider, and I'll be happy to tell you. I'm a footy nut with a passion for writing and acting. All though I love writing and acting, during the footy season, AFL is my true passion. Waiting ever so patiently for the day when Essendon Next win the flag.


  1. Great write up, Casper. I was there and concur with everything. Go the Mighty Bloods!

  2. Hi Jan, Just read Caspar’s article and it’s pretty well on the money. I had a great time watching bits and peaces of the AFL games and the snooker (semi finals at the crucible in England).

    I always enjoy reading what passionate supporters of their clubs think, in particular Caspar, Rulebook Yoshi and, yourself. What a great game is AUSSIE RULES.

  3. george smith says

    This was foretold 2 years ago when the Swans lost 6 in a row but still made the finals. Last year they did a Footscray against Collingwood to win by 2 points to save their season, by suddenly wearing the 1918 premiership jumpers, and also some skulduggery from Polonius the ground announcer. This year, as I foretold, we have the dreaded SCG surface to worry about. Best to hang on to the classy guys like Heeney, and play the kids such as the invisible man, Fox.

    I am hoping the game Sydney v Collingwood will be a damp squib this year, unlike the heart stoppers of the past 2 years. After the ANZAC Day game I need the peace and quiet…

  4. Keiran Croker says

    Nice write up Caspar. The Swans do look like a bottom four team at the moment. We try hard and never give up, though our lack of ability to win the contested ball is killing us. If you are second to the ball you are made to look slow. With a couple of exceptions we actually have quick players. This is backed up by the tracker stats on the afl website.

    As well as trading out players, we delisted a bunch of fringe players who had been around awhile. With the exception of Thurlow and Clarke (and Menzel), we drafted kids. With a bunch of very senior players out injured, we are left with young and inexperienced ones to choose from.

    Given we have drafted kids the rebuild may take time, unless we can get some guns in the draft this year. Win, lose or draw, I intend to enjoy the ride

    I’d like to see Fox, Rose and O’Riordon and maybe Cameron get a run of games to see if they are up to it.. Given we have topped up with kids I think the rebuild will take time, unless we can trade in some guns.

  5. Tom Bally says

    Great write up Caspar.

    Mystifying how we turn it on for a 1/4 then drop off again. That first 1/4 the players looked completely disinterested. Also bizarre how much we’ve dropped off the pace in general; the skill levels and decision making are infuriating. But when we get going it all looks quite good. Not sure if this is the trade ban coming into play or there’s off field issues or just a young side yet to gel.

    I feel this will be a season of remembering passages of play rather than wins but we’ll see it through none the less.

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