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The Swans: Can a lifetime of habit be changed?

After last year’s Grand Final loss I promised myself that from next year, I would make a concerted effort to change my emotional reactions to all things football – especially my own team’s fortunes.

I have been lucky these past two months: the team has done it for me.

I was tested in Round 1 against Port. But, all was fine. We lost. An aberration I believed.

We drove down to Melbourne for our Round 2 match against last year’s heart-breakers. All was still fine. We lost, but we got close.

Next up, a home game against Collingwood. We’ll be right. Lost again. It was as close as a game can get, barring a draw. 16th on the ladder but ahead of Hawthorn!

Not much improved against West Coast the following week. From memory we got close at some point, but with a 0-4 start to the season, surprisingly I was still fine. I’d not bothered reading the papers or watching the footy shows on Fox, and felt quite relaxed about it all. And we were still ahead of Hawthorn!

We then faced the young kids from the other side of town in Round 4. The aberrations had long gone and footy alarm bells were ringing. I refused to listen to them. I also refused to listen to the doomsday media.

I kept calm. It was more than calm. In fact it was RELIEF!

A selfish sort of relief. One that kept my emotions in check: not having to worry about those bastard highs and lows that either nourish you for seven days or keep you in a state of despair until the next high. Madness, that’s what it is.

Despite the madness, we were now 0-5 and lingering on the bottom of that all-defining league ladder. Surely, I’m in a time warp? South Melbourne, it read, not the all-conquering Sydney Swans of the past 20 years!

Round 6 rolls on. We can’t possibly lose to Carlton, can we? We fly down to Melbourne and watch our beloved Swans lose to a team that is in its infancy – what those media people call a rebuild. Not a particularly nice game to watch, from a Blood’s perspective. Hawthorn is just one rung above us!

Not reading about or listening to those so-called footy experts is working wonders. I’m calm and relaxed and the relief is certainly palpable. What I do think about though is how lucky we have been these past 20 years. Bloods people have been spoiled. We’ve had enormous success and the team has given us all wonderful memories.

“If we lose this one, I’m definitely booking our overseas trip in September”, I say to one of our O’Reilly Stand friends as the team runs out to face Brisbane. “Me too”, he replies, with a friendly sort of smirk. We sing the song as the sirens sounds and I get to wave my flag for the first time this year! The Lions replace us on the bottom rung but Hawthorn is still hovering above us!

Now for the 10 day trip down to Melbourne for our two consecutive away games. SWANZ is probably wondering whether it will be his last road trip for the year, but the driver knows only too well that win or lose she would never miss a game.

It’s far colder down south and I never understand why I resist packing warm clothes when leaving Sydney. I do it every time. I am definitely a creature of habit, I know, but this repeated failure to accept reality is taking it too far. Am I talking about my footy team?

I suppose I could avoid looking at the back pages when in Melbourne, but these past 10 days I’ve succumbed. Even before our win against the more fancied Kangaroos, I read The Age while waiting for the ball to be bounced. Doom and gloom for the Swans mind you, but who cares what they think. We’re now 15th but we can’t seem to get ahead of those wretched Hawks!

Melbourne’s temperature climbs towards the end of the week and as we stroll to Etihad to face the in-form Saints not only do my warmer bones tell me that today will be special but my relaxed mind visualises a joyous rendering of Cheer Cheer in a few hours time. I was right!

It was joyous. It was a tough, high-pressured game. Following on from the previous week, and with high calibre players back from injury, our mighty team performed as they know best. As true-believing Bloods supporters know best.

Wow! We’ve leapt five rungs ahead of Hawthorn – albeit on percentage – and two games away from 8th!

But, I refuse to speculate.

Holidays are on hold. I remind myself of my promise last October. So far, I’m calm and relaxed. However, I did notice a worrying pattern on Saturday: heart racing when the opposition kicked a goal, fearing they would kick several in a row; high pitched inner screams when we botched the ball; anxiety in the last quarter when exclaiming to Marshall “Seven goals can be kicked in 15 minutes of footy these days, we just can’t let it happen” – you get the gist!

As the season unfolds will I be able to change 67 years of habit?

Go the mighty 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, its been a sobering year for us Swans. All those early season expectations have had to be adjusted after such an awful start. Though like you I’d rather acknowledge what a great 20 years we have had – 2 premierships & 17 finals campaigns. You can’t always be winning! I’d also rather focus on the lads who have come in, who all look exciting prospects. Now that we have some key players back we are winning and looking good. Maybe we can mount a finals challenge. However whatever happens I think we are well set for future years. I hope to see you for a game up in Sydney before too long.

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