We can win it all. No, scrub that, I believe we WILL win it all. Yes, I know I’m risking jinxing us. I don’t do this lightly. I can already see the movie. Spielberg will cast Russell Crowe as a niggling Reg Grundy. Liam Neeson will perfect the Longmire signature swearing-behind-the-hand move. Michael Caine will produce one of the finest performances of his career as flag-waving Kenny Williams. Buddy will have to play Buddy. We can’t teach Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to kick 70 metres on his left foot.
I did not always have this confidence in season 2017.
0-6. Carlton have rolled us. We haven’t lost to Carlton since the Sony Walkman was cutting edge technology. I sit in the stands for five minutes after the siren trying to decipher what I have just seen? We are done and dusted for season 2017.
I am a pessimist at heart. When I received a text message from Mrs D at 3am on our wedding eve I concluded she was skipping town. Turns out she was simply reminding me to pick up the Groomsman’s suits. Seven years and two kids later, I should have had more confidence. Note to all future Brides, please don’t text your Groom after 11pm on wedding eve.
It is easy to go to my default setting. I conclude a mixture of injuries and a collection of warriors who have grown tired after a decade of September campaigns are the reasons of our decline.
Where to from here? No finals. Blood a few kids. Meander through the year. I’m copping it from a long line of mates who have been waiting two decades to put the boot into the Swans. I’m ok with this, we have had a great run since 1996. Time to take our turn with a bit of pain.
Slowly things change. The Lions, Kangas and Saints are dispatched. A heartbeat. The Hawks then take the smile off my face. We extract some revenge on the Doggies and six weeks after the Carlton debacle I’m back at the MCG again to see us take on the Tigers.
Richmond 5.3.33, Sydney 0.4.4 at quarter time. This time season 2017 is officially over. I head to the gents and spend three minutes washing my hands – trying to find a way to get out of this mess. 90 minutes later and I’m hugging in the aisle as Kieren Jack kicks his first banana goal in over 200 games and we storm home. Could we make finals? As I’m walking home over the footbridge I’m starting to believe.
Essendon visit the SCG and with 4.30 left on the clock we are 19 points down. I’m pacing the kitchen and looking for something harder than a Carlton Draught in the fridge. Season 2017 back in the toilet. Mrs D informs me we have kicked the next. I abandon my search for the Scotch and head back to the couch. Florent and Newman goal. Gary Rohan… Gary Rohan… Gary Rohan! We don’t even know where the rack is to put the cue back in it! Season 2017 back on.
I’ve got a decision to make. Revert to my pessimistic roots that it is still highly improbable to make the finals, let alone win it all, or start to believe that this group is made of something special and highly capable of doing what no team has done before? I’m pouring my glass back to half full.
The wave of momentum carries us through June and July. Each week its own elimination final. I’m simply expecting us to lob up each week and get the chocolates. I haven’t felt this confident since I cunningly wrote three quarters of the periodic table on my pencil case to try and look smart in Mrs Floods’ year eight science class (I still failed). I can see something special in this group.
Other than Hawthorn playing the Grinch again, we storm through the field. Trips to Geelong and Adelaide are ticked off. A season like no other. Every time we are challenged we simply find a way to win.
Essendon present the first hurdle of our September campaign. They have already proved this year that the SCG holds no fear. Daniher and Watson carry the responsibility of their famous surnames with aplomb. The Bombers play quick and take risks. They are dangerous. It is hard not to think back to that magical preliminary final against the Bombers in 1996. Even though he is 51 I still wouldn’t mind Plugga lining up on Saturday.
Where to from here? September defines our football teams. Will season 2017 be remembered for simply fighting against the odds and making the finals or will we refuse again to accept an early end to the season? Four more wins to glory. The challenge is in front of us. I’m not nervous. I’m not arrogant. I simply believe we WILL win this. I think we could lather enough makeup on De Niro to make him look 23, so he could bring his intensity to the role of our little angry man Tom Papley. Swans Season 2017 coming to a cinema near you for boxing day 2018!
PS If Joe Daniher manages to kick 12 and I have jinxed us, please send all hate mail for me care of the Sydney Swans office.
Originally from Wagga Wagga, Craig Dodson loves the Swans, is tempted to pull on the boots – mainly cricket boots, but occasionally footy – from time to time, and has his energy taxed by two pre-school boys. You can read more of his work at footyalmanac.com.au.