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From the Outer: Proudly Sydney

Keiran Croker  September 14, 2017 10:47 AM

Defy The Odds The Sydney Swans have launched their 2017 finals campaign - Defy The Odds.

Who would have thought? What were the odds? After a zip-6 start here we are in the second week of the finals. Like many back in May, I was adjusting my expectations of my Swans, checking out Spring travel options and contemplating maybe a year or two of a rebuild. Though ever the optimist I was confident that once our better players returned, the mix of old and new talent would see us be competitive and we’d win 10 or so games to just miss the finals. Well, I was wrong, and the Bloods have defied the odds and made history just to get this far.

So why are we here? We made the Grand Final last year and were only 10 minutes away from holding up the Cup. Fair play and due credit to the Bulldogs as they were the better team on the day. I would argue that we are a better team this year. While we lost the ball magnet Tommy Mitchell, we have got more games in to the next band of young midfielders – Jones, Heeney, Mills, Hewett and Papley and introduced mature age rookie Nic Newman in to the mix. And Sam Reid has returned to the forward line to provide a versatile marking option alongside Buddy. Down back the tight-knit group has been supplemented by steady as a rock Lewis Melican whose form has kept the more flamboyant Aliir Aliir out.

Our ongoing success is not a surprise or a fluke. This team, this Club is built on consistency and reliability from the administration down to the support staff. From 1996, 19 finals campaigns have resulted in 5 Grand Final appearances for two Premierships. In this 22 season period we have had only two Chairs of the Board, three long term Managing Directors and three coaches. This is reflected in our recruiting, development and game style. As a life-long supporter I am both proud and appreciative of our efforts in recent times. Following this Club is a joy and a pleasure.

This golden period for the Swans has also enabled four players to reach the 300 game milestone – O’Loughlin, Goodes, Bolton and now McVeigh.

Over the last two years Macca has battled some old-man injuries with soft tissue leg complaints and like our team was being written off earlier this year. However along with the return to fitness and form of his former co-captain Kieren Jack, Macca has been a large part of our resurgence through the season. I’ve described Macca before as being like a musical conductor out on the ground directing the ensemble, inviting contributions as needed. A deft, almost imperceptible feint or weave can open up the possibilities ahead. Macca is one of those players who has never been the fastest or the most elite mark or kick, yet as the complete package he is outstanding. His reading of the play is elite. With two Bob Skilton Medals and a premiership, he is a bona fide champ of the Club and deserves to sit along-side the best. Well done Macca, we are glad to have you on board for another year. Maybe more honours await? (And congratulations on the arrival of your baby daughter this week).

To this week: another do-or-die encounter. Our recent record against the Cats is outstanding, though that counts for nothing once the players cross the line on Friday night. One would be foolish to discount a team with Dangerfield and Selwood, on the rebound off a poor performance last week. However, I am confident that we will win.  We have greater depth through the midfield, a tight as a drum defence and more options up forward supporting our super star forward Buddy. Our whole-field defensive pressure invites contributions across the entire team, which brings me to our trump cards – Towers and Sinclair.

Much was expected of Dean Towers as a first round pick in 2012 having been the Fothergill-Round Medallist for best young player in the VFL. However it’s taken nearly five years for him to get to near 50 games. The knock was on his decision-making and composure under pressure. Along with a range of players he has contributed significantly to our recovery. He has been in the team since Round 7, his longest continuous exposure at the top level. His speed, run and effort along with his ability to pinch hit in the ruck are crucial. I’ve joined the Dean Towers Appreciation Society. Especially since reading Matt Zurbo’s piece on the footyalmanac site. (http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/round-12-sydney-v-western-bulldogs-barracking-for-towers/)

And Sincs playing as a third tall is keeping the high profile Kurt Tippett out of the team and providing strong presence – leading, marking and converting. We are blessed to have these selection options.

So I’ll be there at the MCG Friday night, cheering for Joey’s boys - Deano, Sincs, Buddy, Macca and all the crew. Let’s defy the odds …. Onwards to victory!

Keiran Croker is a lifelong South Melbourne and Sydney Swans fan. He has also followed in his father’s footsteps and supports The Borough. Based in Melbourne, he is an engineer in the field of water supply. He writes for www.footyalmanac.com.au

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