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Round 9 – North Melbourne v Sydney: How impressive are our young cygnets!

As one red and white team faltered, the other took flight.

At 10pm on Saturday night, the result was known. Labor had lost. At about the same time, the Swans were celebrating one of our most memorable victories.

The election result may not have been to my liking, but my young team’s effort, decidedly was. It was a stunning victory.

We arrived in Hobart only hours before the game. This delightful city greeted us with a mild, almost balmy, early evening, banishing any need for the extra woollies so often needed in Tassie. Sitting in the David Boon Stand, amidst a large contingent of red and white fans (I reckon almost half the crowd are Swans fans), the atmosphere was far from doom and gloom after hearing that our inspirational captain, Joey Kennedy was out, injured. We were hopeful, knowing that our victory last week against Essendon would have instilled much–needed confidence in our young team, and knowing that they would give their all, despite so many of our stars missing. How right we were!

The three goals to one first quarter certainly didn’t reflect the evenness of the game at that stage. A couple of missed easy shots on goals could well have had us on equal terms. The nine–point deficit soon became a distant memory, as the following 30 minutes produced a stunning 7.2 quarter – a quarter that ultimately won us the game.

Paps, 55 metres out, rolls one through the big sticks.
Georgie and Isaac combine for our second.
Ollie makes the most of a North mistake, and gets our third from 45 metres.
19 year old Tommy McCartin marks spectacularly for our next one.
That man, Paps, is involved again, picking one from his bag of magic tricks – this time, grabbing the ball from the boundary line, 25 metres out, tapping it forward to himself, juggling it further forward, twice, then kicking it through on the goal line. “Impossible”, I exclaim to myself, from the other end of the ground, thinking it must have gone out of bounds, but looking at the replay on the big screen, realise that nothing is impossible for Paps.
Our sixth comes from Nick Blakey, snapping at goal from the pack, 20 metres out.
And the seventh (consecutive goals broken by two to North), involves a string of passes and a pick–up, ending in the hands of Lloydy.

A magnificent 30 minutes of footy, marred only by Zac Jones clutching at his hammy and hobbling off. A sad and sorry sight indeed. Another injury to one of our stars, and Zac has certainly been an integral part of the team this year.

Half time is catch–up time. Pat McLindin, our former No 1 ticket holder, is only a section away and we have a chat as we make our way to the toilets, that are supposed to cater for the hundreds of people in the Boon Stand: five toilets! The queue was ridiculous. The Men’s too was just as long. Who on earth designs these places?

With little time left, I then wander to another section of the crowd to meet up with Deb Ross, who has bought my book and has corresponded with me. She’s come from Sydney for the match, and is beaming with Swans pride as we greet for the first time. Smiles aplenty!

We’re all confident as the third quarter starts, and even more delighted when Paps, at it again, grabs the ball from 45 metres out, and rolls it through for his third. Tommy McCartin, Sammy and Ollie then combine for another, and had two posters to our young 19–year old and Parks, been goals, our lead at three quarter time could have been greater than the 27 points.

It’s now time to phone family in Melbourne to find out what the politicians are up to. I’m assuming, as perhaps most of us, that the red and white mob would be celebrating, but I’m informed it’s the other way round. “You must be kidding me”, is all I can manage to my sister’s hubby, as he too shows his dismay. Asking for Julie, I’m told she’s gone to bed. This particular sister is a Labor stalwart. She’s spent months and months volunteering wherever and whenever needed, to help ensure a happy ending. She started her Booth Supervisor duties that morning at 5.45, and when the result became apparent in the evening, it was all just too much for her. Not wanting to wake in fright during the night, she opted for bed, and a Valium.

Meanwhile, who would have thought what the remaining 30 odd minutes of footy would bring?

When Paps adds his fourth goal, to extend our lead to 33 points, most of us Swans fans are already rejoicing. Then, North decides to find something extra. They bombard the goals, and with the ball firmly lodged in their forward half for most of the quarter, kick two consecutive goals. Play of the night, perhaps, by the Swans, intervenes: Colin O’Riordan, dashing off half back, passes to Ryan Clarke, back to O’Riordan, onto a stunning pick–up by Paps and a strong grab by Will, but he ends up missing! 19 points the difference.

When Polec goals from the 50 metre line, on the boundary, to reduce North’s deficit to five points, I’m feeling decidedly sick to the stomach. I call another sister in Melbourne. “How much time’s left”, I implore, with the ground clock saying 32 minutes. “2 minutes 30 seconds” is the reply. “Impossible!” I scream into the phone, only to find out later that the Fox showing is out of whack with real–time, due to the game starting late.

We’re sitting almost directly above the play as Jordan Dawson takes his two spectacular marks, and Callum Mills tackles Shaun Higgins, in what surely would be the last game–saving effort. Play continues, and, as almost our entire team is now in the back line, defending as if their lives depended on it, the siren goes. They converge, we converge and Cheer Cheer rings around Hobart town.

When we consider that more half our players on Saturday night have played less than 50 games (some as few as under 10), and 18 of them fewer than 100 matches, and that footy household names such as Buddy Franklin, Jarrad McVeigh, Joey Kennedy, Harry Cunningham, Nick Smith, Zac Jones (for most of the game), Heath Grundy, Sam Naismith, Kieren Jack and Dan Menzel are all out injured, surely the future looks extremely bright!

I could say it’s looking bright now, considering how the young cygnets played this weekend. Think about Jordan Dawson and how he’s come on in leaps and bounds. Think about how well Allir Allir is playing, and Georgie Hewett, especially in this game’s performance in quelling the North midfield in the absence of Joey, and Ryan Clarke’s game on Shaun Higgins, and Jackson Thurlow’s improvement from week to week, and our backline overall: Ramps, Lloydy, ORiordan, Melican, Mills – all standing up and doing what our backline has done for years now – been one of the best in the business. Which leaves our forwards. What else can be said about these young kids, showing maturity way beyond their years, especially in the absence of Buddy. Tommy McCartin, Nick Blakey, Ollie Florent, Ben Ronke (when he’s back) and throw in Tom Papley, Isaac Heeney, Sam Reid, Robbie Fox and our most recent young Blood, James Rowbottom, and we have a team showing no fear, plenty of footy nous and endless enthusiasm. What more can we ask for? Oh, Callum Sinclair! Where would we be without him? And Parks! He’s right up there at the top of the tree.

John Longmire certainly has no doubts about our future stars. He said after the game, “One of the really good wins I can remember”. “If they play with that sort of spirit it’ll take them a long way”.

Let’s hope that his sentiment rings true!

Go the Mighty Bloods!


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 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. george smith says

    Cheesed off am I. What promised to be a merry jaunt to the SCG for us Magpies now becomes an extreme nail biter like the last 2, or even worse a season destroyer like 1997 and 2016.

    Ever since the Swans moved from the best stadium in the world to the NSW Transport black hole we have had no end of trouble winning in Sydney. Of course we never play them in Melbourne!

    Oh well, at least Polonius the ground announcer can’t complain about free kicks after what the Swans have got away with lately. In the game of Terry versus Arfa, may the dodgiest team win.

  2. Ross Treverton says

    A terrific game Jan and proof yet again, that the spirit in this club is second to none. I’m really looking forward to watching this group develop. And terrific to see the amount of support in Hobart for the boys. Keep cheer, cheering.

  3. Tony Courtin says

    A tight gutsy win,Jan. Previous 2 games they’ve applied tremendous pressure a la successful Swans teams of recent times. Go bloods.

  4. Thanks one and all
    Cheer cheer

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Good win, Swans. Well planned, well executed.

    North were horrible. Poorly coached and played. I would have been embarrassed if we had grabbed the win.

    A win would have papered over the cracks, to use a cliche.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Time for big changes at Arden St.

  7. I’m quite surprised at North this year, Andrew. I expected them to improve considerably, but, for whatever reason, their performances haven’t lived up to my expectations – and no doubt, Norths supporters!

  8. Yep, a fantastic win by the Swans over my Roos.
    A very very disappointing result for North.
    But Sydney showed what a club having faith in youngsters can achieve.
    A lesson there for North

  9. Ditto my comment to Andrew, above, Smokie. They started off well, and came out of their shells in the last quarter, but our second quarter did the trick!

    Funny game, footy! Cheers

  10. Funny game footy is right Jan. The Crows were smashed in the clearances, particularly in the centre square against Brisbane. Whilst their mids got enough of the ball, as per usual, they didn’t hurt the Lions. Stone the bloody Crows, for all that, they almost pinched the game -unbelievable.

    As a Crows supporter since they began in the AFL. it pains me to see a team with a great deal of talent perform way below their expectations. No wonder many fans are tempted to come out with GRAHAM KENNEDY’S FAMOUS CROWS’ SCREAMS, if you know what i mean.

    For all that however, I do believe the Swans are on the right track – hang in there Jan.

  11. Graham Kennedy – that takes us back! Fisho. Watched that game against the Lions. As I lived in Brissie for 23 years, I have a little sort of soft spot for them (unless they’re playing us, mind you), so I wanted them to win. Enjoying their rise this year, but never at the expense of my team. Yes, I’m hanging in there! Thanks

  12. Julie Cattlin says

    Well, Jan, it’s only been in the last couple of days that I’ve been able to read a newspaper and listen to the news. Election Day 2019 is a day I won’t forget.
    The difference in losing a football game and losing an election is the latter you could win again in one week, and an election you have to wait for about 160 weeks!!!

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