Swans lose in O’Keeffe’s 200th

The Swans returned to the MCG on Sunday to take on the Tigers, with Ryan O’Keeffe playing his 200th game for the Bloods.  Last time we played Richmond here we got in by a lazy 10 goals in Mickey O’Loughlin’s 300th game.  I am hoping for a similar result to last year however the Swans are not traveling well lately and the Tigers are improving with three wins in their last four games, after nine straight loses to start the year.

My old Tiger mate, Tim has again arranged a table in the MCC dining area.  His son Hugh has just had his 21st and this is an extension of the celebrations with the table full of Tigers supporters.  Hugh is an elite level skier and one of his skiing mates from Finland is out for the birthday bash.  Lex and his girlfriend are honorary Tigers for the day and I end up sitting beside them at lunch and during the game.

I am looking forward to seeing West Australian forward Trent Dennis Lane play his first game for us and of course I am expecting a big game from Ryan O, or Pebbles as he is known at the club.  I have something of a connection with Ryan, as both me & Tim played footy with his uncle Peter Ryan back in primary school days at St Francis de Sales in Ringwood East.  Peter’s dad Lionel (Ryan’s grandfather) had played for Footscray back in the 50’s.

The game starts scrappily and if anything the Tigers are more direct when they move forward while the Swans fumble and are slow to move the ball on.  Nasson gets the first goal with a scrambled kick off the ground from the square for the Tigers.  Moore responds with a nice set shot from about 45 metres out.  Jack Riewoldt gets a lucky mark from a spectacular leap and goals for the Tigers, Jack snaps one back on the right foot for us.  Riewoldt gets his second from a nice lead and conversion from 50 out on the right flank.  Mummy gets our third from a lucky free after he had missed from about 20 out directly in front. At the break its 3.3 (21) to the Swans just up on the Tigers 3.0 (18).  Its an ordinary game so far.

I am a bit subdued, not the usual ranting at poor umpiring decisions or our poor skill execution or decision making, as I am answering questions from Lex on the finer points of our great game.  He seems to be enjoying it.  He has been to the footy before, however says he did not much enjoy the cricket when he went once.  He is a friend of our 20/20 star Dirk Nannes, who was a champion snow boarder before taking cricket seriously in his mid twenties.

The second quarter does not offer a great improvement in standard.  McVeigh is keeping us in it and kicks all of our three goals for the quarter.  Reiwoldt looks really dangerous for the Tigers and gets his third goal from another doubtful mark.  Goodes is not impacting on the game at all, while Dennis Lane gets a few chances for his first goal but nervously sprays his kicks wide of the mark.  The Swans miss a few chances, in particular Rhys Shaw’s miss on the run from 40 out straight in front is a shocker.  At the main break the Tigers have made full use of their chances and only trail by 12 points, 6.6 (42) to 5.0 (30).  The Swans have missed an opportunity to make a more decisive break with the amount of forward entries they have had.

He make our way back to our seats after the break, or in my case I hop out on crutches as I am recovering from a broken ankle as a result of a bushwalking mishap a month ago.  By the time I sit down Moore has kicked another nice goal from a set shot 45 metres out on a 45 degree angle.  The Swans are up and about and seem to take control of the game.  Goals to McGynn and Goodes, who is now imposing himself on the game, give us a handy break of 20 points plus.  The Tigers hang in with a goal to Collins, however when big Mike Pyke marks at the point of the goal square and runs on to kick his first AFL goal we are 33 points up and I am pumped.  I explain to Lex that Pykey is a Canadian who has crossed from Rugby Union.  He is suitably impressed.  We appear to be about to run away from the Tigers, however Dustin Martin, a kid in a man’s body, stands up with three Swans hanging off him and snaps a great goal.  A turn over from a poor Shaw kick out gifts the Tigers another goal, then Riewoldt takes a spectacular pack mark running back into the square.  I would definitely come to the footy to watch this guy play.  The Tigers have kicked the last three goals of the term to be only 14 points down at the last break.  10.11 (71) to 9.3 (57).

The game has really lifted in intensity as the last quarter kicks off.  Malceski has a chance to kick a goal on the run early however opts for a pass instead and misses the mark.  The ball is moved through the middle and Newman kicks a great running captain’s goal for the Tigers.  Its down to 8 points difference.  Dennis Lane finally takes his chance and gets the first of what will hopefully be many Swans goals in his career, to restore the three quarter time lead.  The Tigers are full of run and Newman hits up Riewoldt with a great pass and he slots his fifth goal.  However Goodes settles the nerves for awhile with a goal after a clever pass from O’Keeffe, after a free against Martin in the middle when he tries to beat the pack.  We should be ok.

The Tigers won’t go away though and when Collins is knocked senseless when be and Roberts Thomson clash the ball runs free to Newman and he snaps another goal.  I am asked if I am nervous, and I am.  The Tigers are finishing over the top of us and are winning the contested balls.  In a miraculous recovery Collins is back on the ground and gets on the end of a Riewoldt centering kick and goals.  It’s down to 2 points.  The Tigers move forward again and its Collins again taking a mark a few metres out and he swings around to snap the goal and give the Tigers the lead.  There are a few minutes to play but the Swans have stopped to a crawl and don’t look like scoring.  The Tigers are up in a thriller.  How in the hell did we manage to lose to the bottom team.  12.13 (85) to 14.5 (89).

O’Keeffe has played a good game however he stands dumbstruck like the rest of his team mates, while Tigers players and supporters are ecstatic and their stirring anthem is pumped out … “Yellow & Black”.  Its an unfortunate way to end a milestone game, however Ryan has been and is one of our greats with over 200 goals in his 200 games.  Along with the other senior Swans players he will need to find a bit more or the season may slip away.  Meanwhile the Tiger brigade is back in town.  Maybe they have the makings of a team that can make a move over the next few years.  They certainly have players like Riewoldt, Martin, Cotchin and Deledio who are worth going to see play. Time will tell, however if past history over the last three decades is a guide they will find a way to implode.

About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.

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