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Round 8 – Richmond v Sydney: Why do we play so badly against the yellow and black?

It’s certainly not the first time in recent memory; five losses from the past seven encounters surely equates to them being our bogey team. It is starting to become tedious.

SWANZ set off on Thursday to face Richmond and Hawthorn on consecutive weekends in Melbourne. In the warm 25 degrees still-summer sunshine (autumn has given Sydney a miss this year), it approaches the M5 tunnel out of Sydney and I am reminded that there is another SWANZ – the Victorian version – on the roads out there. It is red and white and looks very similar to its NSW brother.

My E-Tag Statement for April told me that SWANZ had been through the CCT City Tunnel in Sydney on Saturday 23 April. I knew it hadn’t. It never uses the Cross City Tunnel, and I keep a record of what toll roads it travels. I keep many records actually, maybe too many. I’m a bit of a spreadsheet nerd to tell you the truth, but my bordering-on-obsessive behaviour has come in quite handy at times.

A couple of years ago, a certain bank – of the yellow and black variety – deposited the due interest into our online savings account on the correct date, as they’d done for the previous eight months. But this time, the amount was short. $70 short to be precise. I phoned the bank and told them. The friendly chap said “Our bank cannot make a mistake like that”, to which I replied “Well, I’m sorry, but the bank has made a mistake”.

“Can you explain and prove to me why you think we’ve made a mistake?”

“I certainly can.”

I told him all about my spreadsheets – those clever programs that calculate and tell you exactly how much daily interest you‘re earning on your hard-earned savings.

“Well, I’m sorry Madam….”

“Please, I’d rather not be called Madam, call me Jan.”

“Ok Jan, I’m sorry, but the bank just cannot make such a mistake, have you checked your calculations?”

Under my breath: “You must be joking mate, I’m a bloody perfectionist and my spreadsheets don’t lie.”

To him: “Yes I have, and they are correct.”

I then tell him that I would like to actually see their spreadsheets, or whatever system they use, to determine how the monthly interest has been calculated.

“Well, I’m not sure we can arrange that Jan…”

“Well, I’m pretty sure you can, as you certainly would if the boot was on the other foot…”

“Um, well I’ll see what I can do.”

A month later I received a call from the local branch manager who said he would email me their documents. The email arrived, with attachment, and there it was – the mistake. It was glaringly obvious. How could the bank manager not have seen it? The interest was clearly stated, daily, from Feb 1 to Feb 28, but Feb 24 was missing. Just not anywhere to be seen.

I phoned the manager, and he said they would put the $70 into our account. No apology, no nothing!

In the overall scheme of things, I am one miserable little client to them, with a relatively piddling little amount in their vast coffers. So, do a calculation. Unless there are other nerdy people out there living by their reliable, very detailed spreadsheets, my reckoning is that the yellow and black bank made many extra millions on February 24 that year. Surely I can’t have been the only account with the same error?

So, when I received our E-Tag account this week, and saw the CCT abbreviation, I knew something was wrong. I hadn’t driven SWANZ in the Cross City tunnel on April 23. Of course I hadn’t, it was a Swans game at the SCG – why would I have needed a car? I never need a car on footy days. And, as I said, I never use that route.

Ah hah. A Swans game, so it must be the Victorian SWANZ, here in Sydney, and I’ve been charged. Again.

In 2013 our E-Tag was billed on about five occasions for using the same tunnel. As we’d racked up quite a few Melbourne E-Tag charges over a couple of months – all with abbreviated section names – I just assumed that CCT was one of them. All charges had been debited to our account. I later decided I should check the abbreviations against places I knew I’d been. CCT? No way.

I phoned RTA and after much hassling, was allowed to see vision of the vehicle in the tunnel on the various occasions. Using photoshop and enlarging the images, it was clearly SWANZ in red and white, it was a silver vehicle, the same as mine, but it was a sedan, whereas mine is a wagon. Enlarging further, VIC was just visible, so I was able to prove that it wasn’t mine. I had to supply them with photographs of the NSW version and eventually our account was credited.

I now have a very simple spreadsheet on my tablet that tells me every trip we make, including date and time.

Unfortunately when it comes to footy and the Swans I have no such control. A calculation is not needed to remind me today – a day before the game – that we’ve lost four of the last six games against Richmond, and no amount of calculation and obsessive carryings-on is going to give me the final outcome at the MCG tomorrow. I am at the mercy of the footy gods.

24 hours later:
Wretched footy gods! I say. Horrible, nasty, miserable sods! They were hovering over their yellow and black underlings tonight, guiding them to victory; helping them accrue a disproportionate number of kicks, marks, tackles and overall possessions (although the chipping around across the half back line exaggerated the count) , and eventually they were able to anoint the yellow and black the Masters over the Swans.

They even influenced the bounce of the ball in the last quarter, making sure it did what it isn’t meant to do, straight into the arms of the unexpecting Riewoldt, thus ensuring them a so-called thrilling victory. It might have been thrilling to the yellow and black, and probably to the neutral observer, but that is not the word I would use. Thrilling implies stimulation, rousing, sensational, and ultimate joy, which is certainly not how I was feeling in those last pulsating seconds.

This was our worst performance of the year. Our much heralded midfield was ineffective, and we missed Joey’s presence. Although Hanners was our best player on the night, our inability to get the ball out of the centre certainly didn’t help our cause. Our backline was disjointed at times and the young cygnets had an ordinary day. I don’t know where we would have been without Buddy, and surely his effectiveness would have been greater had Rance not been his opponent.

Apart from 15 minutes in the first quarter, 15 in the third, and maybe 10 minutes in the last, when we managed to get our game together with strong, precise handballing and kicking – resulting in batches of consecutive goals – we were not much chop. At one stage during the early part of the third quarter I had tallied 15 turnovers, several resulting in Richmond goals – and fortunately for us – behinds. Our game was riddled with errors and inconsistency, and that contributed to the opposition’s dominace at times. And had they kicked straight we would have lost by much more than one miserable, depressing point.

From the yellow and black’s perspective, I’ll leave that to their writers and supporters to sing their praises.

John Longmire stated after the game: “…We come back next week and we need to play better over the four quarters, we need to be more consistent. We’ve got faith in our blokes to be able to do that.”

I hope the players take heed and implement his belief in them so that Cheer Cheer can be heard ringing around the MCG next Friday night against that happy team from Hawthorn.

Meanwhile I’ll try and invent a spreadsheet that calculates how the Swans can overcome Richmond the next time we meet them. It’ll be about time!

My highlights from the game:

Nothing really.

If I was a yellow and black person, I’d be more than happy with Deledio’s game and that guy in the helmet who kicked five goals, and the fact that they’ve finally won their second game for the season against the side they usually defeat. But I wouldn’t be going overboard in optimism.

And, to take my mind off the wretched footy, here’s a great cartoon from the New Yorker.

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Read more Round 8 game reports by clicking here

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. After that game Jan, I felt like going to Canada too!! (see link at end of article)

    Loved the conversation with the yellow and black bank; maybe I should employ you to look after my finances?.

    Cheer Cheer

  2. jan courtin says

    Thanks Marcel

    I think I’ll be too tied-up inventing a “How the Swans can beat the Tigers” spreadsheet to take on any extra work. Sorry!

    Yes, Canada is a nice place, but no footy!!!

    Cheer Cheer

  3. The ghost of that undeserved Semi final win over Geelong in 2005, on the back of an un-Roosball feat of individual brilliance by Nick Davis clearly continues to afflict the red and the white. Though why the gods choose to reward the Tigers for that affront to decency is anyone’s guess. I cannot say it is not a well deserved curse.

    Keep keeping those spreadsheets though. ‘Tis the only way to keep the biighters honest

  4. Tony Courtin says

    Unlike my sister, Jan,her husband,Marshall and my son, Joel,who all endured to the bitter end on Saturday night,I jumped ship early in the last quarter. I was fed-up with what I was witnessing. However, extenuating circumstances did play a part in my premature departure.My partner,Liz,was homeward bound on the Hume Freeway when a trailer immediately in front of her parted company with some of its contents. Liz was unable to avoid the runaway office chair,culminating in a shaken-up Liz and an even more rattled car. Her car was towed to Wallan. There was one good thing to come out of her misfortune. It helped put our team’s lamentable performance in perspective!

  5. jan courtin says

    Thanks Ken & Tony

    A book could be written about the ifs and buts and the curses and the footy gods, Ken, but in the end whoever gets the four points is what history tells us.

    Yes, perspective on Saturday night was required Tony.

  6. Jan, the way you handled the black and yellow mob it’s about time we found a way to get you on the field next time we play them. Encouraging stuff!

  7. jan courtin says

    That WOULD be fun, Don. I might make it out for the centre bounce, then, despite the correct calculations, I’d be one crumpled mess of red blood and white feathers!

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