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Swans WACA memories

Peter Blucher  December 19, 2017 1:54 PM

Paul Kelly played in and captained the Swans in all six games at the WACA.

Paul Kelly played in and captained the Swans in all six games at the WACA.

Q: What does Sydney Swans great Mark Bayes have in common with Australian Test cricket captain Steve Smith?

A: They both scored monumental double centuries at the WACA.

For Bayes it was his 200th AFL game against Fremantle in 1995, while for Smith it was an emotion-charged 239 as the WACA bid farewell to Test cricket with an Ashes-clinching win.

While it was all about Smith heading into Christmas 2017, the occasion might have been enough, too, for Bayes to treat himself to a few reflective moments about a venue that for a long time has been a primary focal point of top-level sport in Western Australia.

Opened in 1893, the WACA hosted AFL matches from 1987-2000, and since 1970 has been home to Test cricket in WA.

But with a new 60,000-seat superstadium at nearby Burswood to host top-level football and cricket in Perth from next year, including Sydney’s Round 1 clash with West Coast, Bayes is left as the only one of the Swans’ 29 200-gamers to have reached this milestone at the WACA.

Bayes is part of ground’s rich and proud history, which includes some of the more memorable moments in Test cricket history. Like Greg Chappell’s debut century in the first WACA Test in 1970; Doug Walters’ century in a session in 1974, when he pulled England captain Bob Willis for six on the last ball of the day to reach his ton; Roy Fredericks 100 off 71 balls for the West Indies in 1975; and Tony Mann’s historic century as a night watchman in 1977.

Bayes’ 200th AFL game came in the Swans’ second visit to the WACA on 7 May 1995. It was Round 6 as they took on competition newcomers Fremantle for the first time. Sadly, the Swans lost by 59 points.

Sydney’s first visit to the WACA was on 27 May 1994 – Round 10. Coached by Tom Hafey, the Swans led by six points at halftime but lost by 26 in a game in which Dermott Brereton played the second of his seven games in red and white, and Jayson Daniels his 99th.

Jamie Lawson led the Swans’ possession count with 23, while Peter Filandia and Robert Neill each had 22. Lawson, too, earned one Brownlow Medal vote.

The Swans first team to play at the WACA, not necessarily in actual playing positions, was:

B: Neil Brunton, Andrew Dunkley, Leon Higgins
HB: Dean McRae, Troy Luff, Ed Considine
C: Jayson Daniels, Paul Kelly (c), Darren Kappler
HF: Derek Kickett, Dermott Brereton, Jamie Lawson
F: Peter Filandia, Simon Minton-Connell, Michael Werner
R: Gavin Rose, Daryn Cresswell, Dale Lewis
INT: Darren Holmes, Jason Mooney, Robert Neill.
COACH: Ron Barassi.

In total the Swans played six games at the WACA, losing their first four before breakthrough wins against West Coast in 1998, when Tony Lockett kicked seven goals and Wayne Schwass had 32 disposals and kicked a career-best five goals, and against Fremantle in 1999, when Lockett kicked another five goals.

Paul Kelly played in and captained the Swans in all six games at the WACA, while Daryn Cresswell and Andrew Dunkley also played in all six. Michael O’Loughlin and Troy Luff played in five of the WACA games, and Stuart Maxfield, Matthew Nicks, Dale Lewis, Greg Stafford, Paul Roos, Filandia and Lockett played in four.

Lockett’s seven-goal bag in ’98 was the equal sixth-biggest in 72 AFL games at the ground, bettered only by Scott Cummings (14), Peter Sumich (13), Paul Salmon (11), John Hutton (8) and Sumich (8).

Lockett kicked 19 goals in four games for the Swans at the WACA to be easily the club’s leading goal-kicker at the ground.

Next best was O’Loughlin. He kicked six goals in his five games after playing his 50th AFL game at the WACA in 1997.

In 1996, when the Swans lost to West Coast by 36 points, captain Kelly had 38 disposals to earn three Brownlow Medal votes in a losing side.

This was the equal fourth-high single-game possession count of all-time at the WACA behind Chris Mainwaring (45), Robert Harvey (39) and Mark Withers (39), level with Wayne Campbell.

Kelly also had games of 31 and 30 possessions at the ground, while other Swans players to have 30 possessions at the WACA were Cresswell (35, 34 and 32) and Schwass (32).

Cresswell (155) topped the aggregate Swans possession count at the WACA from Kelly (151), while only four Swans players polled Brownlow votes at the venue – Kelly (4), Cresswell (2), Lawson (1) and Dale Lewis (1).

Swans coaches at the WACA were Ron Barassi (2 games) and Rodney Eade (4 games).