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The Moment: Professor Mick Dodson

Sydney Swans ambassador Mick Dodson with Shannan Dodson, Paddy Batchelor and Meredith Burgmann at the SCG (left to right).

In this series, we uncover the moment when passionate Swans members fell in love with the red and white.

It’s sometimes the simple things that decide which team you’re going to barrack for.

For Professor Mick Dodson, former Australian of the Year and one of the country’s most respected indigenous leaders, it was a jumper he was given when he first arrived at boarding school in Victoria in the 1960s.

Mick and his brother Patrick went from Katherine in the Northern Territory to board at Monivae College in Hamilton in far west Victoria after the tragic death of both their parents.

When he arrived at Monivae, one of three Aboriginal students in a school of 500 boys, Mick got his first taste of football.

“I came to the game late, I was 12 or 13 before I played my first game. It was when I went to Monivae College and it was the sport,’’ Dodson recalls.

“I had a South Melbourne jumper for training. I liked the colours and I liked the Swans,’’ he says.

He also had a soft spot for Geelong because the brilliant indigenous player, Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, was a star for the Cats in the 1960s.

But his favourite Swans player then – and still his favourite player of all time - was Bobby Skilton, who played 237 games for the Swans between 1956 and 1971 and won three Brownlow Medals.

Skilton was the heart and soul of South Melbourne throughout the 1960s when the club had no success.

“Bobby stuck with the club through thick and thin. He played all those games and only one final, and he’s always said he’d trade his Brownlows for a premiership,’’ Dodson says.

“For me he epitomises the Swans in many respects.’’

Dodson’s passion for the Swans grew when he came to live in Sydney in the 1990s. “I would go along to the SCG with my mate Chris and in the early 90s you’d rock up 10 minutes before the game and get a seat in the Members.

“We were getting flogged every week, but then Ron Barassi came and they started behaving like a football club and not a razzamatazz corporate outfit.

“Chris and I joined as members, and I’ve been going ever since,’’ says Dodson, who now lives in Canberra and is a Professor of Law at the Australian National University.

The funny thing is that his mate Chris has not been to the footy for about 20 years, since he moved overseas to work for the United Nations.

“But I still pay for Chris’ seat next to mine!’’ Dodson laughs.

His favourite moment was being at the 2005 Grand Final and watching the Swans win their first premiership in 72 years.

Dodson says it’s amazing how successful the club has been on the field over the past 20 years. But it’s the team’s values that most inspire him.

“There’s just something about the Swans that draws your loyalty,’’ he says. “It’s their honesty. They’re an honest team. They give their all more often than not. And the ‘no dickheads’ policy has been good.’’

He’s optimistic about season 2019 and loves the way the club constantly refreshes its playing list.

“The Swans are always careful with their list and they’re always blooding new players. There was a game not long ago with six players who hadn’t even played 50 games between them.’’

His current favourite player is Jake Lloyd. “He’s got poise and grace, and he’s a good defender. And I think Ben Ronke is going to be a superstar, there’s just something about him. I think we’ve got a good list and we’ll be knocking on the door again next year.’’