Round 7 – Sydney v Geelong: With last week’s ‘male-appendage-wagon’ trip done and dusted, it is now time for a simple tale of Cats and Swans

I’ve never really liked them to be honest. The husband loves them – always has. It was a bit tricky when we first met, and I wondered then how I would cope if the relationship developed.

 

All these years later, I still don’t like them. And, I’m pretty sure they chase swans. Well, they chase all sorts of other animals, so why not swans. I am definitely not a cat person.

 

The traitor in the family likes cats. Her husband and their seven offspring and sixteen grandoffspring just love cats. The traitor’s eldest daughter even married one. Years before that though, the traitor, whilst still a swan, married one as well. Commotion in the Courtin household. What to do when a cat gets thrown into a flock of swans? The traitor was happy and so was the cat.

 

They lived very happily, had all those offspring, and continue to this day to love those blue and white felines.

 

Three games against those Cats stand out. I really don’t remember many of our encounters back in the days when South and Geelong were down the bottom of the ladder, except we both often lost. But I do remember Polly Farmer and those good looking Lord twins. I also remember Bob Davis, Peter Pianto and Billy Goggin – all legends of the game.

 

I have read that, as we age, the olden times come to the fore more readily. Well, I’m obviously not ageing too well, because the recent stand out games are well entrenched in my hippocampus: need I mention the Semi at the SCG in 2005? Of course I’ll mention it – I’ll gloat even! No swan will ever forget Nick Davis, and, no doubt, nor will a cat. “His four goal performance in the last quarter of the 2005 semi-final is without doubt the best quarter of finals football ever played by anyone” said Paul Roos. Those heroics were subsequently added to the Swans Heritage List. Oh, how the O’Reilly Stand literally rocked that night!

 

Six years later we played them at Kardinia Park, and of course everyone thought they would win, as they pretty much always did in those heady days, especially at home. They simply beat everyone. But our mighty Bloods won – they did it for their captain Macca (whose baby had just died), and we won by 13 points.

 

The most recent stand out was last year at the SCG – surely they had an “off” day – nobody beats Geelong by 110 points. But we did, that day. I’m pleased that the traitor and her happy cat didn’t come to Sydney for that one!

 

All good times for the happy memory bank.

 

Today is a whole new ball game, and based on what’s been happening in games so far this year, no team is a certainty, at home of otherwise. So, I’m a little nervous, sitting here on the wing amongst the red and white family at this not very loved stadium. Assuming we play two games here next year and hopefully a final or two along the way, this will be the 5th or 6th last time we need to travel to this godforsaken place. Cheer cheer.

 

The cats scamper through their banner. They are all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are short haired, others long, and others with such long hair that they’ve needed ties to create little knotty buns on top. No, I’m mistaken: I’m sure Cat 29 had one of those last week, but the hair flows tonight. Some have longer whiskers than others. They all look pretty healthy though and they sort of look hungry.

 

The swans fly through their banner. They too are all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some have shorter feathers than others, but not one of them needs to create a knotty bun on top. They too look very healthy, and the bugle-like crooning sounds echoing through those long elegant necks herald We are here and we are very very hungry!

 

Cat Hawkins is out, which is a relief to our Swans. For the first 6 minutes the ball is mostly in the Cats forward line, and for some reason Cat Blicavs gets a free, and goals. Swan Pike is not too happy. Swan Parker takes a wonderful flying mark and goals from the boundary line 50 metres out. For the next 5 minutes all play is in the Swans forward line and Swan Kennedy goals from 50 metres out. The crowd roars loudly as Swan Franklin gets a pass from Swan Parker but misses from 60 metres. Cat Guthrie then goals from an errant pass from Swan Smith. Swan Goodes handpasses to Swan Jetta who, on the boundary line, brilliantly kicks at right angles to Swan Franklin who, in turn, goals. Cat Johnson claws at Swan Franklin a few times and the crowd boos loudly. Various Cats keep marking the ball when it gets into the Swans forward line. Cat Motlop goals then Cat Johnson puts his fist and claws into Swan McVeigh’s tender parts and the Swan staggers for several minutes. Loud boos. Cat Johnson goals soon afterwards and the Cats go ahead by 6 points. Why was Cat Johnson aiming for the tender parts when the ball was nowhere in sight? More loud boos when we see the large screen view. Swan Richards makes a terrible mistake and kicks across goal to Cat 39 but, thank the heavenly swans, he misses. Loud boos for Cat Johnson as he kicks out on the full and Swan Mitchell goals from 50 metres. 1 point the difference. Swan Kennedy had lots of possessions for the quarter but where was the Mother of all Cats, Cat Selwood?

 

The second quarter doesn’t start too well for the Swans. 2 goals to Cats, both from frees (including one 50 metre penalty) all within the first 2 minutes. Cat Bews almost strangles Swan Parker and the latter goals. Another 50 metre free is given to Cat Lang and he goals. What was that for? Lots of booing from the crowd. The husband shouts COME ON SWANS and I shout FOR GAWD’S SAKE DO SOMETHING SWANS and at the 10 minute mark Swan Franklin does just that and kicks a clever goal off the ground in the goal square, whilst being grappled. From the Swans backline Swan McGlynn kicks into space, Swan Jetta and Swan Franklin converge, Swan Buddy (oops Franklin) scoops the ball off the ground with one hand, passes to Swan Jetta who passes to Swan Parker, who passes to Swan Jack, then back to Swan McGlynn who kicks to the goal square where Swan Goodes marks and goals. That’s better Swannies! Cat Motlop goals soon after and the Cats are getting it out of the middle too easily. Swan Parker goals after a courageous mark, but Cat Gregson goals after Swan Pyke kicks the ball from the Swans backline straight to a Cat. At half time the large screen shows six Swans names as having the most possessions, despite the Cats being ahead by 9 points. Cat Duncan seems to have had a lot of the ball and Mother Cat has been noticed this quarter. I am nervous of these Cats, and hoping the Swans will start playing their best footy in the second half.

 

Swan Jack kicks the first goal of the third quarter and seven minutes later the crowd sighs Oooh Oooh Buddy, when he misses again. Cat Johnson touches the ball and the crowd boos. Swan Tippett kicks a great goal and finally, the Swans are ahead. 30 seconds later Swan Parker goals from 60 metres and this Swan is out of her seat and flag waving. Not long later, the crowd calls ball, ball, boo, boo when Swan Franklin tackles Cat Enright, but no free. For 5 minutes Swans play silly buggers in the backline, making us all very nervous, but it seems to work. Cat Blease comes onto the ground as their sub – it’s his first game says the person on the loud speaker – so the polite Eastern Suburbs Swans give him a clap and a cheer! Cat Taylor gets a free because Swan Mitchell was supposed to have pushed him in the back. How ridiculous! Swan Mitchell wouldn’t even be able to reach Cat Taylor’s back, he’s so small compared to Cat Taylor. Two bad misses at goal from Swan Goodes and Swan Kennedy, and then Cat Johnson (boo boo) goals and the Swans are only 5 points up at three quarter time, despite a seemingly dominant quarter.

 

The husband says I’m nervous and I reply Me too, it’s too close, but there’s no time for more nervous talk as Swan Rohan grabs the ball, runs and bounces – all very legally – then gets pinged.No way, no way, he only took 11 steps! Crowd boos loudly. Swan Parker takes a screamer and passes to Swan Franklin. Great goal. Out of the seat again, flag waving and shouting CARN ON THE BLOODS. Cat Johnson pops up again and more boos from the crowd. After one of those silly reviews, Swan McVeigh’s wonderful swerving goal is confirmed. Cat Johnson is still hovering and gets another boo, then Swan Franklin twirls and twists and goals from a quick stab not far out. The large screen shows a beautiful Swan Franklin smile. Lots of handballs from Swan to Swan and Swan Rohan goals and the Swans are 5 goals up. Swan Parker tackles Cat Stokes in what has to be one of the best tackles all year. Swan Mitchell marks and goals and then Swan Pyke grabs a mark going sideways and backwards in the backline, and after handballs and kicks from various Swans it ends up in Swan Parker’s beautiful hands and he kicks truly. He’s just great isn’t he that Swan Parker I remark, as he kicks his 5th. (what I actually said was He’s just great that Lukey Parker.) Cat Gregson gets a free and goals on the 28 minute mark – their first for the quarter and second for the half. Finally Swan Mitchell marks and kicks from 55 metres and Swan Reid shepherds the ball through the big sticks. The Swans have won by 43 points.

 

Their feathers are unruffled, despite the odd scratch and clawing, and they proudly leave the ground with Swan McVeigh on their shoulders. The Cats, good for two quarters, leave the ground with tails between their legs, maybe wondering what had happened to their impressive meowing and purring last week.

 

This Swan and her mate are happy. We sing the song and wave the flag and then glide along to the train station to take us back to Central, and home.

 

I think about the traitor and I truly hope that she and her cat aren’t too sad, and hope that they continue to live long and happy lives in Cat Town, with their litter of kittens, grand kittens and forthcoming great grandkittens. (see footnote below)

 

My highlights for the game:
Swan Parker – a perfect 10 game
Swan Hannebery
Swan Kennedy
Swan McVeigh in his 250th
Swan McGlynn for restricting the Mother of All Cats
Swan Franklin
Swan Grundy
Cat Johnson and the boos (you can’t help but like him can you?)
Swans crowd for cheering Cat Blease

 

Footnote: The traitor on becoming a traitor. Taken from Comments section of:
https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/round-3-sydney-v-gws-a-rivalry-in-the-making/

“Well, I’m the traitor of the family!! South Melbourne moved to Sydney and that was the end for me. I was devastated. I tried desperately to follow Sydney, but it just was not the mighty Bloods. I get angry even now when I hear “Cheer, cheer the red and the white” being played and sung at a Sydney game. I was at a Geelong /Sydney game in Sydney a couple of years ago and felt like the South Melbourne memorabilia had been stolen! I honestly grieved for quite some time. Luckily I had a big family to care for and couldn’t dwell for too long.

 

I was passionate about South Melbourne and rarely missed a game. I adored Bobby Skilton, Freddy Goldsmith, Ron Clegg, Brian McGowan, Max Papley, Kenny Boyd (despite his 12 weeks suspension!), to name just a few. On the rare occasions that South won, I would sneak my footy scarf and beanie to school and try and wear them. I made a huge scrap book, which is sitting on the shelf next to me now. I would read the Sporting Globe, hoping for something about South. I drive past the South Melbourne footy ground (that’s what it still is to me) and the memories come flooding back.

 

I always quite liked Geelong. I went to all the finals games (sleeping out for 2 or 3 nights at the MCG to get tickets – such fun!) and watched them in the early 60s when their 3 sides were often in the finals. I thought the Lord brothers were the most gorgeous looking guys I had ever seen! When my son-in-law started playing for Geelong around the late 80s, and my husband was always fanatical Geelong, I started following them. Not the same feeling as South, but not a bad substitute. I am now 100% Geelong – much to my siblings’ horror! “

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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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