Almanac (Footy Fan) Life: They are into us – The Newbies



They are into us now. The newbies. The Swans’ supporters who have only ever known success. Against the Giants John Longmire was lauded a triumphal Caesar. At the weekend and the week before – an unimaginative loser. If only they knew. If only they could feel the pain of us long suffering Bloods. The ones who endured losing streaks of 29 consecutive games (’72-’73) and 26 consecutive games (’92-’93).


I did not always barrack for South Melbourne. I was a Saint like most of Tassie’s population in the 60s. For my eleventh birthday I was given a Saints jumper with Big Carl’s number 10 on the back. At the age of fifteen after making a flippant boast – and with a naïve desire to be different – I switched teams. Under intense scrutiny from my mates I determined I would choose an underdog. A brilliant choice in hindsight – even with champions of the likes of Skilton, Bedford, Rantall and Papley – it was to be a long and rough road. But I stuck. My brother Rod, to this day, still calls me a turncoat.


It was not until 1996, playing Hawthorn in an historic match at the SCG, that I was able to celebrate a Swans final victory – their first finals win of any kind since 1945. Success I have found can cut both ways. You get used to it and losing can be doubly frustrating. On the other hand you can mellow a little. You know you can’t win all the time. You appreciate just how fortunate a ride it has been to be a Swans supporter over the last two decades. Up until 2005, however, there was an upwelling of passion to match the deep well of disappointment of life as a Swan’s barracker. The seventies in particular loom large. Those years in one’s twenties when, late on a Saturday afternoon at the Pub the Richmond, Carlton and Collingwood supporters – then later Hawthorn – always somewhere near the top – exhilarating in the brotherly ritual of team success – then repeating it ad nauseum at work for rest of the week. The local games on the North West Coast where, with transistor latched to one’s ear, you listened to South’s matches and the depressing progression of quarter by quarter scores as the opposition marched away. Once on a drive back along the notorious Frankford Highway between Devonport and Exeter I leant in close to the diminishing radio signal as it broadcast a close game between the Swans and North. Only the quick action of my wife saved us from sliding into a ditch.


Until 2005, Tony Lockett’s famous point in the 1996 Preliminary Final had served as the epitome of footballing jubilation as a Swannie. I had never been to a Grand Final and was happily resigned to watching at home when I got a call from my brother-in-law on the Friday afternoon before the match. A Brisbane Lions member, he had two reserved tickets which were in the possession of his brother who was living in Richmond. Did my son and I want them? My only query over our good fortune as we boarded the late flight out of Launceston was this: what if we were playing Collingwood, Carlton or one of the other big Victorian clubs? We would not have got a seat on that plane.


I won’t go through the match. It was as epic as it has been, subsequently and many times, described. I will just touch on a few moments. We had led for the best part of the game when, early in the last quarter, Luke Ablett kicks across goal only for Ben Cousins to mark and goal. Hunter scores soon after and we are eight points down. There are two West Coast supporters alongside. They roar and, at the same time, voice their confidence that this is going to best quarter for the season. Inside my head is a pounding, pleading, silent scream “Not like this! Not like this!” We have been so valiant. Lose some other way but NOT LIKE THIS.


Hall pegs one back and Buchanan puts us in front. It is the sixteen minute mark. There will be no other goals kicked. The quarter will run for close to another seventeen long, agonising, gut-wrenching minutes. We are high in the stands. Directly above where Leo Barry marks. We don’t hear the siren, we just see Kennelly tackle Barry who still has the football. Do you sometimes sit in your chair and not move or cross your legs or kick the cat off your knees – just so as not put the moz on yourself and your team? There is a cure. There is a moment immediately after Cousins goals when it dawns. There is nothing you can do – nothing. It is fate and you can only watch and remember to breathe.


Throughout our great run as a finals contender, it has never been easy. We have never been THE out and out dominant team. Is there a Bloods’ culture? I like to think there is. Kirk and McVeigh are still on hand at the Swans. As the men of my parents’ vintage used to say – both good men to have in the trenches. The Swans may be down but they will rise again – maybe much sooner than our despairing newbies think.



To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



  1. Nicole Kelly says

    Isn’t football amazing that you can live and breathe it completely for decades? Riding the highs and lows. It’s the ultimate loyalty.

    Thankyou for your memories.

  2. Kevin O'Dea says

    The most memorable moment for me as a Swans supporter was the match against Collingwood at the SCG when Plugger kicked the record goal that had been owned by Collingwood until that moment. The crowd surge was something to behold and to be part of.

  3. Chris Carswell says

    I think I have seen that transistor; it’s in the middle of a huddle of school boys on a patch of turf high on a hill looking out over Bass Strait and it’s a Saturday afternoon – no Sunday games in those days. Cooee must have been playing away, otherwise, I would have been down at West Park up in the back row of the grandstand banging on the sheet iron – “Coo-ee!” Bang Bang Bang,”Coo-ee!” Bang Bang Bang, “Coo-ee!”. Earlier in the day our U15s played Burnie High – we lost, but no disgrace: they had John Greening – no-one could lay a finger on him. Anyway, Collingwood were playing South Melbourne at Victoria Park and the transistor crackled with the 3UZ commentary coming in across the Strait. Mo Maloney was in the transistor huddle. A long time Swans supporter, with a loyalty born – maybe – from a connection with the Launceston City Redlegs and the days when Laurien Nash and Frank Davies were coaxed across the Strait and helped the Lakesiders to the 1933 flag. It’s like that – the loyalty – inherited. Except, of course, if you are a turncoat. Collingwood? Well, thats another story. They always had trouble getting over South Melbourne and Fitzroy. A good enough reason to send them north.

  4. Ted McDonald says

    Great story mate.
    Brings back memories in the seventies, of you & I , over one or two beers, despairing if the Swans & Demons would ever be any good. Well the Swans certainly have been. I’m still waiting for the Dees to have some sustained success!

  5. Peter (Mo) Maloney says

    Great read Tony. Brings back memories. I think that transistor may have been mine. It had a black leather case. Such things were a luxury at boarding school. My love of the bloods stemmed from the 50s when living in Melbourne. I was a mascot. Loved running out on the ground before the team. Favourite player was Fred Goldsmith. Wanted his No 2 on my jumper. But could only get a white 2. My Dad suggested the number of a promising player by the name of Bob Skilton so 14 it was. My Dad twice a week would send me the Sat and Wed edition of The Sporting Globe so I could keep up with the South news. It was popular with the kids at the school. Yeah we Swans followers are the true believers. Carna Bloods!

Leave a Comment