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Round 9 – North Melbourne v Sydney: From Boys to Men at Blundstone Arena



The passing of one our country’s rarest of leaders this week has called for contemplation. Bob Hawke saw compassion as a strength, not a weakness. He had his own weaknesses, as we all do, and his were utterly human. He made no bones about them and that was endearing. Our Sydney Swans of 2019 have made no secret that this is a time where consideration and understanding are required. After a shaky start to the season, Mr. Hawke would agree, I’m sure.

But, there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. As the late Leonard Cohen observed.

This encounter at Blundstone Arena in my home town of Hobart has been highlighted on our calendar for many a month. My eldest cygnet, Ollie and I have been engaged in constant dialogue around the fact that ‘Buddy’s coming to Hobart’. Of course, I found out during the week that he’s not. Breaking the news to the little man would be an uncomfortable task, but one that a father simply must confront. Ok, I may have chickened out. For our sake at least, Buddy’s playing.

I feel as though all Hobartians are playing host today. Amid the chagrin of modern life, the familiarity of home provides a much welcomed serenity – particularly for a day at the footy. The city is forging ahead, adjusting to the expectations of a changing demographic and capitalising on its waterfront advantages. Cafes, restaurants and bars have taken hold as an old town embarks on the challenges of modernisation. The pre-game vibe is one of celebration that we now have semi-regular access to top-level footy.


With my mind marveling at the multitude of red and white at Blundstone Arena, a venue far from home, my son and I pass through the turnstiles and a calmness overcomes. Buoyed by this sudden burst of pride in my local comrades, we take our seats ‘right up close to the players’ – at Ollie’s request.


Most likely due to my relentless barrage of indoctrination, Ollie has taken a genuine shine to our Swans. For the first time, it’s just the two of us at the footy. We’re all decked out and expectant. We find the merchandise stall and his new guernsey now accommodates a ‘badge of Buddy’ and another of Aliir – fine selections. He takes a disliking though, to the pre-game firework spectacle, and so we stroll along the concourse, discussing our most prized Swannies and of course, stopping to ponder the pugnacious genius that was David Boon in full flight (in statue form). With the pyrotechnics over, we return to the main event.


Our baby Bloods have ventured south with a fledgling squad. The six most experienced members of our playing list are unavailable. Our star recruit is not yet ready and our premier ruckman has unfortunately, been almost forgotten. The young blood must take charge and surge through the veins of this team if we are any chance of victory. Leading the charge will be the often-referred-to ‘veteran’ – 26 year-old Luke Parker and the intriguing but dependable Rampe. Both are just finding their feet as commanders of their fleet. Both will prove indomitable tonight.


This group may just be Longmire’s lasting legacy. For the first three-quarters of the match, the flock fly proudly together. The second quarter is what many of us hope is just a taste of what’s to come. Tommy Papley’s rise from apprentice plumber to a heart-and-soul Swan is incredible. Each of his four goals tonight deserve their own individual highlight reel. But package them together and it’s as though our forwards coach had crafted them himself. McCartin’s charging lead, propelling himself into a sensational pack mark and goal. Blakey’s supreme touch and athleticism was on display throughout, but his snapped goal being the prime example. Ollie Florent’s composure and clinical finishing is becoming a consistent feature. Dawson’s aerial exploits and Hewett’s contested dynamism are what sustained success can be built upon. Heeney just continuing to be Heeney. All the while, Mills, Aliir and Melican repelling at the back and driving the collective forward.


Generation Next has arrived and these are the boys becoming men before our very eyes. Tonight’s tantalising taste is more than enough to preserve conviction among us all. These are the boys that my boys will grow up supporting through their formative years – lucky little buggers. We all shine a light to our initial favourites, don’t we? My Ollie is already collecting his own and it’s providing me with the purest of joy. After a few too many second quarter toilet breaks and a half-time kick, we’re both firmly entrenched as our cygnets dig in for the fight.


When the Sydney Swans went searching for a definable ‘trademark’ in 2003, the famed Bloods culture was built upon the cornerstone of three fundamentals. Three non-negotiables: Hard, disciplined and relentless. From our privileged vantage point we were gifted a first-hand look at these values permeating through the youngsters in red and white. They attacked the ball with a fearlessness and tenacity that evoked the spirit of their predecessors. Right to the very end.


An unforgettable night has been punctuated by what I’m sure will be two everlasting memories: sharing in the victory song with my own delightful boy and witnessing the unity and delight etched all over the faces of our victorious young Blood Stained Angels. As the impregnable R. Hawke once said, “The things that are most important don’t always scream the loudest”.

AFL footy and Tasmania make fabulous companions, especially at Blundstone Arena which is so distinctive in the parade of Australian sporting venues. What form it takes in the future remains unclear, but there’s nothing confusing about its worth to our community. For our beloved Sydney Swans to play contributor to that, I’m extremely glad.

Joe Moore is a devoted Swan who belongs to a large like-minded flock. He lives in Hobart with his wife Kate and their cygnets, Ollie and George. You can read more of his work at


NORTH MELBOURNE  3.1   5.3   6.7     10.12 (72)
SYDNEY                    1.4   8.6   10.10  11.11 (77)


North Melbourne: Turner 2, Brown, Wood, Cunnington, Larkey, Zurhaar, Simpkin, Tarrant, Polec
Sydney: Papley 4, Florent 2, Blakey, McCartin, Heeney, Lloyd, Dawson


North Melbourne: Ziebell, Anderson, Tarrant, Macmillan, Simpkin
Sydney:Hewett, Parker, Papley, Dawson, Lloyd, Heeney


North Melbourne: TBC
Sydney: Jones (hamstring), Heeney (head)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Hosking, Howorth, Chamberlain


Official crowd: 12,799 at Blundstone Arena




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About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. Ross Treverton says

    Fabulous Joe. The baton passes on from father to son(s) and all is well with our footballing world. As the Swans slipped seemingly into the mire early in the season, my 10 year old daughter causally informed me, ‘time l became a member then’. A 4th generation Swan in the family and l couldn’t be happier with the club she has chosen to join. Cheer, cheer indeed!

  2. Joe Moore says

    Thanks Ross. A golden moment with your daughter there.
    Seeing first hand what that win meant to our young Bloods will never leave my mind. There is something seriously good building here. We just need to stay patient.

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