The opening round of the 2018 home and away season will see the Sydney Swans take on West Coast in the first AFL match at the newly-built Perth Stadium.
Details of Round 1, leaked ahead of the full fixture release on Tuesday, revealed a Swans v Eagles clash in the twilight hours of Sunday, March 25, at the billion-dollar 60,000-seat venue.
The game will be the fourth occasion where the Swans and Eagles have kicked their seasons off against each other with encounters stretching back as far as 1992 when the two clubs – having had a delayed start to the season due to a seven-club bye – played their first match in Round 2.
That match was Sydney’s only win against the Eagles in opening round matches.
Head-to-head, the Eagles (2-1) are in front having won the two contests since and the countdown is on for the next instalment.
In the meantime, take a trip down memory lane as we revisit encounters gone by to set the scene for what’s expected to be an enthralling contest at the new venue.
Round 1, 1992 – Sydney 14.14 (98) def West Coast 14.11 (95) at the SCG
After a lowly 12th-place finish in 1991, Sydney and new coach Gary Buckenara would have been hoping to ease into the new season.
No such luck, unfortunately.
The Swans were given a tough encounter first-up, a Sunday afternoon match-up against the previous year’s minor premier and grand finalist West Coast.
After quickly finding their feet within the national competition following their 1987 inception, the Eagles had become a powerhouse and, by ‘92, were on the cusp of their first ever premiership.
Sydney didn’t fire a shot against the Eagles in a practice match in Perth only two weeks earlier, losing that trial by 137 points, while hosting the visitors at the SCG did little ease Buckenara’s mind given the Swans had lost almost as many games as they’d won on their home deck.
And trailing by 10 points with just minutes left on the clock, the Swans, albeit gallant, looked like they’d succumb to the expected result.
But to the shock of many watching on, the Swans lifted themselves off the canvas with late goals from Warren McKenzie and David Strooper to snatch an unlikely three-point victory in front of 9,325 fans.
The win was a rare highlight in a gloomy season, as the Swans managed only two more wins for the season before taking out the undesirable wooden spoon.
Gary Buckenara was one game into his tenure as senior coach when Sydney upset West Coast in Round 2, 1992. He'd win only two more games that season - and for the rest of his coaching career - before his deparature the following year.
Round 1, 1997 – West Coast 12.6 (78) def Sydney 5.7 (37) at Subiaco Oval
West Coast at Subiaco Oval – you’d have a hard time finding a tougher road trip in AFL footy over the past 30 years.
It was called the ‘House of Pain’ for a reason.
The Eagles to this day have won more than lost (68 per cent) at their now defunct fortress, having got the desired result in 222 of 326 matches at the venue, bettered only marginally by Adelaide (72 per cent) in its short 50-match history at Adelaide Oval.
After their first decade in the competition, that record was even better (78 per cent) which spelled out a tough opening to 1997 for coach Rodney Eade and his chargers despite the previous year’s success.
Having reached their first ever Grand Final six months earlier, confidence was sky-high. But without prized full-forward Tony Lockett, who’d miss the opening weeks of the year after surgery in the pre-season, on top of several changes to the squad, Sydney knew the challenge had been set.
And that’s what it proved, and some, after the Swans were left flat on the canvas with a 41-point loss at the hands of an Eagles outfit still possessing many of their premiership stars from 1994.
Lockett’s absence proved detrimental as the home side struggled to score, managing only five goals for the game.
Michael O'Loughlin battled hard but played a lone hand up forward in the absence of Tony Lockett.
Round 1, 2007 – Sydney 10.13 (73) def by West Coast 10.14 (74) at ANZ Stadium
Sydney v West Coast during the mid-to-late 2000s was one of the most fiercely contested rivalries seen in modern-day football.
Eight out of 10 matches from the end of 2005 to 2009 were decided by less than five points, including six-straight games headlined by the ’05 and ’06 finals series’.
The opening round of 2007, the Grand Final rematch, landed in the middle of this string of epics and was one of the closest contests fought between the perennial powerhouses.
West Coast had the ascendency for most of the match, establishing an early lead to then hold a 36-point advantage at half-time, but three unanswered third-quarter goals from the home side set the scene for what proved to be another thrilling chapter in this incredible rivalry.
A goal from the little-known Simon “Flipper” Phillips in the dying minutes made it a one-point ball game but, despite a promising push forward, the Swans failed to register another score and the visitors held on.
Simon Phillips celebrates after kicking a goal in the dying stages of the 2007 thriller.