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Swan Songs - with Darren McAsey

Jim Main  February 8, 2012 1:03 PM


In Jim Main's series, 'Swan Songs', this week he talks to former Swans fan favourite, Darren McAsey...

Darren McAsey
Born: June 16, 1965
Played: 1985-86 and 1988-91
Games: 34
Goals: 23

Although Darren McAsey had a limited career with the Sydney Swans, he was a firm fan favourite because of his red-blooded commitment and enthusiasm.

Yet McAsey, known as “Harry” (for various reasons), grew up barracking for Footscray as father Alan had played three senior games with the Bulldogs in 1958.

McAsey explained: “I was playing with Spotswood juniors when South Melbourne recruiting officer Jim Kennelly saw me kick seven goals in a Grand Final and invited me to play with the Swans’ Under 19s.

“We lived in the Williamstown/Altona region (in Melbourne’s inner west) and I was tied residentially to the Swans. However, Dad and I did not let it rest there as I wanted to play with the Bulldogs.

“We wrote to both clubs in the hope South would relent but, instead, the Swans offered me a little money to play with their Under 19s. I accepted and have never regretted becoming a Swan.”

McAsey kicked 60 goals in his first season with the Under 19s, but was outshone by another promising youngster who kicked 90 goals - Warwick Capper.

“I guess we formed a pretty good combination on the forward line,’’ McAsey said.

“And it was obvious to anyone who saw him play that Warwick would go on to be a star at the elite level.”

McAsey made his senior debut in the opening round of the 1985 season, against St Kilda at Moorabbin. It was memorable for two reasons, the first being that the Swans thrashed the Saints by 110 points. Secondly, he found himself involved in a dust-up after St Kilda’s Allan Sidebottom hurled him into a goal post.

It was a tough initiation for McAsey, but senior football did not get easier for him.

He said: “I originally played at centre half-forward but, at just 189cm, I wasn’t quite tall enough and I gravitated to centre half-back for a while.

“I then had to play on bigger, stronger players like Carlton’s Mark Maclure, Hawthorn’s Dermott Brereton, Essendon’s Paul Vander Haar and Richmond’s Jim Jess. I really had my work cut out.”

McAsey also copped more than his share of injuries and, in fact, missed the entire 1987 season after slipping a disc in his back.

He returned to senior action the following season, playing mainly on a forward or back flank, but was delisted at the end of the 1990 season before being redrafted for three more senior games in 1991.

McAsey’s stop-start career meant he wore four different guernsey numbers with the Swans - 46 in 1985, 12 in 1986 and 1988, 33 in 1989-90 and 50 in 1990.

When McAsey’s AFL career ended at the completion of the 1990 season, he took a season off to rest his body and was talked out of retirement after he took a phone call from former Swan teammate David Bolton.

“Bolts was coaching Strathmerton and asked me if I would join his club for the 1992 season and although I agreed, I spent just one season in country football before retiring for good,” McAsey said.

From there, McAsey went into the hotel industry, running a series of pubs in Sydney including five years with the Exchange Hotel, Balmain, which won a Sydney Pub of the Year award under his stewardship.

McAsey now has been running the Alexandria Hotel (on the corner of Henderson Road and Garden Street) for the past nine years and hosts many Swans fans on their way to or from SCG matches.

He also hosts past player functions as well as his regular Grand Final day functions which now attract more than 1000 customers.

Although the past player functions are hugely successful and McAsey has a substantial database, he would like to hear from any past player who has not updated contact details or has never been involved in the organisation.

“It is not a membership based organisation, but we would like to know where we can contact former players and officials so that we can invite them to functions,” McAsey explained. “The more the merrier.”

McAsey can be contacted on 0417 678 395, on the internet through harry@alexandriahotel.com.au or through the Sydney Swans’ Past Players and Officials on Facebook.