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Flashback: Escort Cup success over Roos

Luke McManus  February 15, 2017 4:50 PM

South Melbourne skipper Barry Round holds the 1982 Escort Cup aloft.

South Melbourne skipper Barry Round holds the 1982 Escort Cup aloft.

I can hardly believe we have got it.

It took ground officials with loudspeakers and two mounted police officers more than five minutes to clear VFL Park so play could recommence.

The final siren was only seconds away but a 1000-strong mass of passionate South Melbourne fans who stormed the oval couldn’t wait any longer – this win was a long time coming.

The Swans were on the verge of defeating North Melbourne in the 1982 Escort Cup Grand Final and claiming their first piece of silverware in 25 years.

What’s the Escort Cup, you say?

Let us explain.

Once upon a time the pre-season competition, as we’ve come to know it today, didn’t exist. In fact, the pre-season competition wasn’t a pre-season competition at all before 1988.

At one stage, from its 1956 introduction to 1977 (save for a six-year hiatus), it was a post-season night series fixture and comprised of teams who finished outside of finals.

South Melbourne enjoyed great success during this time, winning three of four Grand Final appearances (1956-57 and 1960).

For more than a decade, between 1977 to 1988, the format was a knock-out series played from March to July featuring all VFL teams plus sides from the Western Australian Football League (WAFL), South Australian National Football League (SANFL), NSW, ACT, QLD and Tasmania.

Player schedules were packed. With the night series played midweek, mostly on a Tuesday, there was a short turnaround before the squad had to recover and back up for the regular season game that weekend.

“There were some challenges,” said future skipper and Team of the Century half-back Dennis Carroll, who was in his second year of VFL football at the time.

“We celebrated until the early hours and I remember having a sore head on the way to work the very next day."

The same squad who prevailed over the Roos, minus Brett Scott and Greg Smith, had a four-day break before flying up to Sydney on the Sunday to play Footscray at the SCG.

The home side won by 13 points.

Members of the playing group take to Circular Quay to promote the move north in 1982.

In 1988, the competition was moved permanently to the pre-season timeslot.

Since then the competition has been altered and changed many times over – from a simple knock-out tournament (1988-99), to a round-robin format of four teams in different pools (2000-03), back to knock-out (2003-10), then to 40-minute lightning games in which six pools of three teams played each other on the same day or night.

In 2014, the competition element was abandoned all together in favour of three simple practice matches with no ranking system or no overall winner awarded.

Today, we know it as the recently rebranded JLT Community Series.

It makes the ’82 victory over North Melbourne the last time the Sydney Swans have won anything tangible from a pre-season/night series.

Sapped of success for many seasons previously (22 years since their last night series win and 49 years since a VFL flag) and with a forthcoming move to Sydney hanging over their heads, the win was a remarkable achievement for the Rick Quade-coached Swans and offered relief from the turmoil engulfing the organisation at the time.

“That win offered a little ray of hope for us in what was tumultuous period for the Club,” Carroll added.

Silvio Foschini, who played 38 games over a brief two-year stint with the Swans (moved back to Melbourne shortly after the move to Sydney due to homesickness), booted four goals in the 13.12 (90) to 8.10 (58) victory while Max Kruse and Colin Hounsell also starred.

Colin Hounsell.















Unfortunately, this fleeting success was not a sign of things to come for the Swans.

Despite translating the same Escort Cup form into the regular season by winning seven on the trot, the Swans lost their last three games to finish seventh and out on finals contention for the fifth consecutive year.

A trickle over 20,000 attended that night at VFL Park, a “meagre” effort according to one news outlet but an accurate reflection of both the resistance towards the Club’s imminent move to the Harbour City.

The red and white faithful was divided.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere was a little brighter up at the Swans’ adopted home.

As reported in the Canberra Times in the days following the landmark win:

“Grand final fever hit the city,” the snippet read.

“Close to 1,000 Swans' Supporters packed the Chevron Hotel Ballroom at Kings Cross to watch the live telecast of the final. The night was organised by a sponsor when the Swans found that Channel Seven was not going to telecast the game direct to Sydney.

“Organisers expected about 100 to turn up and ordered the smallest section of the ballroom. But the response was overwhelming and they had to close bookings at 750. They had a waiting list of 200.”

1982 Escort Cup
Sydney Swans v North Melbourne
VFL Park - Tuesday July 20

Swans 13.12 (90) d Roos 8.10 (58)

Selected team:

Ricky Quade (coach)
David Ackerly
Stephen Allender
Mark Browning
Dennis Carroll
Rod Carter
Anthony Daniher
Bernie Evans
Silvo Foschini
Colin Hounsell
Max Kruse
Paul Morwood
Shane Morwood
Tony Morwood
John Reid
David Rhys-Jones
Barry Round
Brett Scott
Greg Smith
Stephen Taubert
Stephen Wright