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Round 12 – Sydney v Western Bulldogs: Where to now, Bloods?


Thinking earlier in the season that we might just be lucky enough – heaven forbid – to grab a number one draft pick, the focus has now changed. Definitely changed.

What was I thinking? Yes, we were 0-6 at one stage, but surely no one really believed we would end up last on the ladder come the end of August. Why, pray, would we need a number one draft pick anyway? We’ve survived very well, thank you, for many years without a one, two, three or any single digit numbered promising young thing.

Walking to the SCG on Thursday night with our umbrellas ready to spring into action after 24 hours of heavy rain, we visited our new cygnets at Kippax Lake. The parent Swannies had given birth to another five beautiful babies while we were in Melbourne for our previous games against North and St Kilda.

The three cygnets Paps, Millsy and Georgie, born in 2015, had long since gone: one had died and the others had flown the coop. Another two followed not long later, but they too hadn’t hung around too long as their little bodies changed from that baby-soft greyness to the stark blackness of their parents.

Each time on my daily stroll around Moore Park I would head for the lake. For months I found myself feeling really sad for mum and dad – all alone without their children. What are they feeling? What are they thinking? Are they missing them? Will they be worrying about them? were my thoughts and concerns. I wondered why they seemed happy enough – gliding along, doing what they usually did – without any obvious worries. And Marshall would reassure me that swans didn’t have the same attachment to their offspring as humans do. He wasn’t very convincing however!

Then, one day about nine weeks ago, there they were, taking turns to sit on their nest, making new babies. My mind started racing, wondering all sorts of swan-related things. What do they do with their lives, apart from glide up and down, picking at god-knows-what sort of food in the waters below, and creating babies? (I really wanted to say the obvious word beginning with the sixth letter of the alphabet, but thought I’d better not – if I’d been speaking I would have!)

The result of their labours is a sight to behold:


Five new cygnets. Photo: Jan Courtin

Maybe my Swan/Almanac friend Keiran Croker can help me name them – he was the one who suggested Paps, Millsy and Georgie. I’m thinking of Ollie, Will, Nic, Lewy and Shauny, and as more young footballing Swans come along I know one thing for sure: our Swannies at the lake will keep doing what they do and know best – creating more babies!

And now onto the footy.

Thursday night at the SCG. The Swans were sitting three from the bottom of the ladder and though the Dogs haven’t been travelling that well this year, and losing their past two away-matches, most gave our team no chance against the premiers. When did we last win after a Bye? The rain had stopped but showers were predicted. Would Bulldog fans be able to travel up north during a working week? Would Sydney people even bother turning up?

I gave my Bloods every chance – I KNEW they would win – another of my gut feelings.

Bugger the Bye stats.

The rain had definitely stopped – none all night.

The average-sized group of away supporters did make the trip.

And, Sydney people stayed away.

It made me just that little bit angry. Angry that when a team is down, its supposed followers don’t really care.

The crowd of just over 20,000 saw and experienced our best game for the year and one that, hopefully, will get the boys back on track for the remaining 11 games.

This game was all about pressure. Pressure from the very first bounce and right up until the final siren. We just did not allow a Bulldog to get free; free to execute their slick hand ball and renowned run off the back line and subsequent efficient movement into their forwards.

John Longmire summed it up perfectly “Pressure on the opposition, no matter who you play, if it’s consistent will always make a difference.”

This game was also about belief. Belief in the players’ knowledge that they are good enough to win.

With the greasy conditions it was a bit of a scrap at times, but the Swans were relentless and even though we probably should have won by far more than the 46 points had we not kicked so badly for goal – especially from relatively easy set-shots – not one Swans fan is complaining.

Isaac Heeney was outstanding. Tom Papley, showing no fear for his life when attacking the ball, was instrumental. Lance Franklin was simply Lance Franklin who, normally, would have kicked 8 straight instead of 3.5. Heath Grundy masterminded the back line, ensuring we kept the opposition to a low score. Sam Reid showed us just what he is capable of – if only it was consistent. Our two unheralded ruckmen, Sam Naismith (what a haircut!) and Callum Sinclair, with their 65 hit-outs to 16, will probably keep our man Kurt from returning to the big boys next week. My favourite Swan, Dan Hannebery, was all class, as was his fellow midfielder Luke Parker, and what can be said of our inspirational captain that has not already be said. Josh Kennedy is a champion.

With four from the last five games lifting us from the bottom of the ladder, and now just two games from the all-defining eight, who knows what our mighty team can inflict on their upcoming opponents. And who knows how our season will end.

The focus for me now is simply to win next week against Richmond. One game at a time is my motto. It might be a cliché, but as this year has shown, One game at a time is more apt than ever before in our team’s journey.

Go the Bloods!

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. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Jan,
    Yes, it was a complete performance, despite the poor kicking for goal. Great intent, hardness around the contest and run. The solid performances we expect from Buddy, Joey, Hannas and Parks, ably supported by Heens, Paps, Georgie and the two Sammys.
    I like the names of the new cygnets. Though as Shaun Edwards has yet to make his senior debut, perhaps the 5th name should go to Robbie Fox or Jordan Dawson. I don’t think Daws or Foxy quite work, especially as the later is a natural predator, so maybe Jordie?

  2. Good one, Keiran, the fifth one is now Jordie.

    Cheer cheer

  3. To me this vindicates my assessment that the Dogs were the weakest Premiers in ages.

    Swans looked good, but everyone has, in stages this year – viz Lions yesterday.

    Not sure what it gains the Swans to come 7th or 8th, but that’s up to them, I never like to see clubs (like the Tiges) getting too used to losing.

    Big game this week, season defining.

    Richmond should, and need to, win, and win well.

    That’s what scares me…

  4. Scares me too, Peter! Especially with your recent record against us.

    I’ll be at the G on Saturday afternoon, and hopefully the trip will be worth it!

    Crazy season!

    All I can say is: We’ll all end up wherever we end up…..


  5. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    I went for a speed walk around Centennial Park last Tuesday, Jan, before an appointment in Bondi. I smiled the broadest smile when I saw the number of black swans sunning themselves beside Duck Pond, fluffing, waddling, busy as can be. I hoped it a good sign but didn’t have the best feeling about Thursday night.
    What a surprise, then! You’ve accounted for all the play. It was work and pleasure … and a bigger share of it for those of us that did show!

    Love the Cygnets’ names. May they be talismans for a new era against those bogey Tigers.

  6. Cheer, Cheer, Mathilde

    Bogey, Tigers, indeed!

  7. How about Huey Dewie and Louie ???

  8. In case you’re not aware, Jude, Huey, Dewie and Louie are not Swans players!!

    Maybe if I see some newly born ducks at the lake, I’ll call them the above!


  9. Julie Cattlin says

    I was so happy for you when I heard you’d won against the Bulldogs. Your team just doesn’t belong at the bottom of the ladder!
    And those beautiful little swan babies! They must be so happy living in Sydney and not in Melbourne on Albert Park Lake. Poor little swan babies in Melbourne have to put up with the dreadful Grand Prix! Maybe one day the Melbourne swans will be as happy as the Sydney ones with a peaceful existence all year round.

  10. When I go to Melbourne for our footy games, Julie, I always take a walk around the Albert Park Lake area and the South footy ground. I’ve never noticed swan babies on the lake even though there has to have been some.

    Fortunately I’ve never been there at the Grand Prix time as it’s usually before the footy season, but I know all about the protests that thousands of Melburnians carried out for many years to have it abandoned.

    As you say, pity the swans and the other wildlife – to say nothing of the human species living in the area!

    Congratulations on your years of protest!

  11. Re the fluffy cygnets: I am sure you could teach them how to quack – much more feasible than teaching them how to kick a footy with webbed feet and how to take a ‘specky’ with nothing but feathers!

    If they learn how to quack they would feel really comfortable with names like Huey Dewie and Louie – or you could even call one of them ‘Plugger’ which sounds very like ‘Plucka’!!!

    Anyway, a swan or a duck? Who gives a….. damn.

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