Our Club was formed in 1874, but it was not until 1880 that we started wearing our famous red and white colours.
Few, if any, professional football clubs of any code anywhere in the world have worn the red and white for longer than the South Melbourne/Sydney Swans Football Club have.
For 100 years from 1881 to 1981, Lake Oval in Aughtie Drive, Albert Park, was the sacred home of the Club.
It was the Club's home ground for over 1,000 games and in 1923 this small suburban ground had an attendance in excess of 40,000.
Our Emblem - the Swan
In 1933 the eminent journalist Hec de Lacy referred to the Club in The Sporting Globe somewhat facetiously as the Swans due to the number of West Australian players the Club had recruited - the Black Swan being the emblem of Western Australia.
Cartoonist Alex Gurney drew a cartoon that drew further attention to de Lacy's words and hence the 'Swans' came into Australian Football folklore.
Until 1961, the Club Song was an adaptation of "Spring time in the Rockies" by American country star Gene Autry.
There was a sense within the Club that we needed a more robust song. A song that could provide this was identified as the Notre Dame Victory March. This song had been written in 1905 by alumni of Norte Dame, the Shea brothers.
After a protracted process involving the University and various musical houses, the Club was granted copyright in March 1961 and became our much loved Club Song 'Cheer Cheer the Red and the White'.
In 1985 former QBE Chief Executive John Cloney heard that the Sydney Swans were struggling and in danger of folding through lack of a major sponsor.
John made one phone call, and the rest, as they say, is history.
QBE has been our Principal Partner for over 25 years, and while highly commercial, the relationship is more akin to a long-term partnership than a sponsorship agreement.
Leo Barry's mark
A few seconds that changed this Club for all time. In the dying moments of the 2005 Grand Final against West Coast, Leaping Leo Barry took that courageous mark.
|Leo Barry's iconic match-winning mark in the 2005 AFL Grand Final
Sydney Cricket Ground
In 1982 South Melbourne became the Sydney Swans and the SCG became the Club's home, with our first home game being against Melbourne in round 1, 1982, when we defeated a Ron Barassi coached Melbourne - 20.17 137 to 16.12 108.
Since then, our Club has played 322 home and finals games at the SCG for 183 wins, 138 losses and one draw - a success rate of nearly 60%.
Bob Pratt's 150 goals
Considered to be one of the greatest full forwards of all time, Bob Pratt made his debut for South Melbourne in 1930 at the age of 17. He played for the Club from 1930 to 1939.
Pratt is one of only two men in the history of the game to have kicked 150 goals in a season (1934).
Captivating the crowd with his spectacular high marking, he played 159 games for South and kicked 681 goals, a Club record which still stands.
Sydney Swans Guernsey
Our current Sydney Swans guernsey was first worn 107 years after our red and white jumper was worn for the first time and is the guernsey that we have worn since 1987.
The guernsey comprises a red yoke fashioned into an outline of the Sydney Opera House on a white background. On the back of the jumper are the letters SMFC, standing for South Melbourne Football Club, thus permanently linking the Club's origins and rich history with its present and its future.
The guernsey is generally worn with red shorts and red and white hooped socks.
Nick Davis' Four Last Quarter Goals
Nick Davis played for the Club from 2003 to 2008. In his career he kicked 150 goals and played 97 games.
During the three-quarter-time break of our semi-final match against Geelong in 2005, it looked like the Swans' season was all but over.
Then in the fourth quarter, Nick Davis kicked four goals, including the spectacular match winning goal in the dying seconds, which ensured our season would continue, culminating in the 2005 premiership.
The 1881 Premiership - the Club's first
The 1881 season was a momentous one for the fledgling South Melbourne Football Club. Not only did those "red and white beauties", as they were known, play at the Lake Oval for the first time, they also won their first VFA premiership.
There were no Grand Finals in that era, so the club with the best record during the season was declared the premier.
South went on to win further VFA flags in 1885 and from 1888-90, as well as VFL/AFL flags in 1909, 1918, 1933, 2005 and 2012.
In The Blood, by Jim Main
In preparation for the first Swans Hall of Fame event in 2009, the Club realised the need for a comprehensive history, to fill some of the voids and dispel myths about the Club's past.
Club historian, journalist and passionate Swans supporter, Jim Main took on the task.
The book is now gifted to all new players and In The Blood will continue to be the most complete record of the Bloods History and ensure that the challenges and triumphs of the past are forever remembered.
The Matthews Family
No family has given the Swans more service than the Matthews, a dynasty that started with E. Herbert Matthews, who played 33 games in 1914 and 1923-24.
Son J. Herbert C. Matthews played 191 games in the red and white from 1932-45 and, apart from serving the Club as captain and coach, won a Brownlow Medal in 1940. Brothers Norm (28 games, 1938-40) and Don (31 games, 1956-58) also played with the Swans.
J. Herbert's son, Herb, started his career with Melbourne in 1961 before playing 82 games with South from 1964-69.
Tony Lockett's behind - 1996 preliminary final
Despite being under an injury cloud through a groin strain, champion full-forward Tony Lockett tooki his place in the Swans side in the 1996 preliminary final against Essendon, and after being restricted to just one goal, he became the Swans' hero with the last kick of the match.
With scores level with less than a minute to play, midfielder Wade Chapman marked on the wing and saw Lockett make his lead. The Chapman kick found its mark and Lockett went back for his kick with just seconds to play; any score would put the Swans into a Grand Final for the first time since 1945.
Lockett, 55 metres from goal, put everything into his kick and, despite the ball slewing to the left, it tumbled through for a behind.
The 'Brownlow Factory'
For many years, a supporter behind the southern goals held a sign proclaiming “the SCG: the Brownlow Factory”, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Over the club’s 140-year history, South Melbourne/ Sydney Swans players have claimed 14 Brownlow Medals, the most of any club in VFL/AFL history.
e club has produced an impressive 11 individual winners over the years, including two multiple winners of the coveted individual honour.
Bloods Legend Bob Skilton took out the prestigious award in 1959, 1963 and 1968, while Adam Goodes won the Brownlow Medal in 2003 and 2006.
Individual Brownlow Medallists included Herbie Matthews (1940), Ron Clegg (1949), Fred Goldsmith (1955), Peter Bedford (1970), Graham Teasdale (1977), Barry Round (1981), Greg Williams (1986), Gerard Healy (1988) and Paul Kelly (1995).
Players Lost at War
South Melbourne players who lost their life fighting for their country were also recognised at Friday night’s event.
A century on from the beginning of World War I, the club paid tribute to those players who were among 60,000 Australians who never came home.
Players who had either represented the club or were playing at the time of their enlistment who lost their lives were Norman Bradford, Hugh Callan, Fred Fielding, Charles Fincher, Jack Freeman, Edward Harrison, Claude Thomas, Jack Turnbull and the brilliant Bruce Sloss, who was judged Champion of the Colony in 1911.
The Second World War lasted from 1938 to 1945 with an estimate of 50 to 85 million fatalities. Australia entered the conflict in September 1939 and by the end of World War II, one million Australians had served in the Armed Forces with 27,000 killed and another 24,000 injured.
South Melbourne players who lost their lives in World War II were Alf Hedge, Norman Le Brun, Alan Pearsall, Gordon Sawley, Jeff Grieve, Jack Shelton, Jack Wade and Len Thomas.
The 1933 Jumper
It was a new-look Bloods in 1932, when the team took to the field in a new jumper.
For the first time, the club donned a white guernsey with a red V, a red collar and the long-sleeved guernseys featured red cuffs, which replaced the white jumper with a red sash that was previously worn by the club.
The players’ numbers were red, and the socks were hooped red and white. Black shorts were worn at home and white shorts for away matches.
The jumpers were made of wool and were exceptionally heavy compared to the lightweight, state-of-the-art uniforms the players wear today.
While no one can say with certainty that the new jumper played a role, the club managed to break their decade-long finals drought in 1932, and went on win the premiership in 1933.
The club played in four successive grand finals from 1933 to 1936 donning the white jumper with the red V, so it could be said that the new guernsey signalled the beginning of a new era for the Bloods.
30 Goals in Three Consecutive Weeks
The Sydney Swans’ big goal hauls of 1987 have been added to the club’s Heritage List.
In rounds 16 to 18, the Swans wrote their names into the history books when they booted over 30 goals in three successive matches.
On July 19, 1987, Sydney defeated West Coast 30-21 (201) to 10-11 (71) at the SCG. This included a second quarter in which the Swans kicked 12.4. Stevie Wright kicked eight goals, while fellow midfielder Barry Mitchell kicked three. Warwick Capper kicked five and Team of the Century wingman David Murphy booted four.
The Swans put on a show the following week at the SCG when the team defeated Essendon 36.20 (236) to 11.7 (73). This included a massive 13-goal last quarter for the Swans. Capper kicked six goals, Wright five and eventual Best and Fairest winner, Gerard Healy finished the match with four.
The Swans’ big score against the Bombers was also a historic moment for the club, with Sydney becoming the first team in League history to score over 200 points in consecutive games.
The following week the Swans defeated Richmond 31-12 (198) to 15-17 (107). Capper and Merv Neagle each kicked five goals, while Tony Morwood kicked four. Some familiar names were amongst the Swans’ best included Dennis Carroll, Rod Carter, Craig Holden and Morwood.
The Swans remain the only team in history to achieve the feat of kicking more than 30 goals in three consecutive matches, and given the nature of today’s game it seems unlikely it will happen again.
Ron Clegg 1951 Match v Fitzroy
On June 23rd 1951, in a game against Fitzroy at the Brunswick Street Oval, Ron Clegg turned in one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the game. Collecting more than 50 possessions and taking 32 marks – most of them contested – the 1949 Brownlow Medallist dominated as few players have before or since as he almost single-handedly steered South Melbourne to a commanding half time lead before saving the game in the second half as the opposition embarked upon a stirring comeback.
Following a tumultuous first decade in Sydney, by 1992 it appeared that a combination of off field turmoil and financial troubles may see the end of the red and white.
Without AFL assistance – which required the approval of opposition clubs – it was almost a certainty that the Club would fold. However, a group of “True Believers” stepped in to ensure the continuing viability of the Swans, providing enormous financial assistance, lobbying club presidents to vote in our favour, and making great personal sacrifices to safeguard the future of the football club they loved. To John Gerahty, Craig Kimberley, Basil Sellers, Peter Weinert and Michael Willesee we owe a great debt of gratitude
When coach Paul Roos and captain Barry Hall held the 2005 Premiership cup aloft in the middle of the MCG on September 24th 2005, they were representing a team which had achieved what many red and white faithful may well have wondered if they would ever see.
When the siren sounded on our four-point victory over West Coast, a 72year Premiership drought – the longest in VFL/AFL history – was broken. The hard work of those who had strived to make the Club a success during the difficult early years in Sydney had paid off, and the belief of those who are loyal to the red and white was vindicated.
First game in Sydney in 1982 as the Sydney Swans
There has been much discussion about the transformation of South Melbourne into Sydney. As has been said previously at this function, mergers and relocations are not highly unusual in world sport.
What is unusual about this move however is that the expectations are that all aspects of the Club’s nearly 110-year existence in Melbourne will be maintained without any consideration of trying to link the club to its new home market. As we enter our 35th season in Sydney, we might just start to allow ourselves to believe that this crash or crash through experiment might finally have worked.
The heritage and history of South Melbourne has been maintained, and accordingly the club boasts an enormous supporter base in Melbourne and throughout the country. But at the same time, we have unambiguously linked our future to the Sydney and the greater New South Wales market.
Many experts would opine without the success and visibility of a team in Sydney there would be no credible national competition. Tonight we formally honour arguably the most critical step in this amazing journey as we bring onto the Swans Heritage List the Club’s first ever game in Sydney under the banner of the Sydney Swans.
Graeme Pash and Family
In 1992 Graeme and Julie Pash and family in an effort to provide the club with a circuit breaker from another poor season hosted a small Christmas party at their house, Beauty Point. As the years passed the number of attendees grew from 10 to over 200. Because the National Draft is held late in the year, for many players and their parents it is their first taste of Sydney.
It became a rite of passage for players. Basically attending this function confirms you were really part of the Swans.
The last function was held in December 2008. While it had a formal name- the Pash Family’s Annual Swans Christmas Party - it was universally known as “Pashy’s Piss-Up”. Graeme had a 20 year association with the club an investor in 1988 and from 1993 until 2002 as the Club’s Deputy Chairman. Between the late 1980s and mid 2000s if you didn’t have your hand shaken by Graeme Pash at the SCG – well you couldn’t have been there.
Marn Grook at the SCG
The annual match at the SCG honours the Indigenous roots of Australian football and recognises the valuable contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players to the game.
Tony Lockett’s 1300th and 1360th goals
The greatest goal kicker of all time kicked his record-breaking 1300th goal against Collingwood in Round 10, 1999. He finished his career with 1360 goals to his name – a record that will be hard to be beat.