At the start of 2016 most people were writing the Swans off after losing more than 1000 games of experience and having one of the youngest lists in the competition.
Fast forward 12 months and you can reflect on a very positive year for the red and white with plenty of great milestones, moments and celebrations along the way.
We reflect on the highs and lows of 2016 in our Year in Review series in the lead up to New Year.
Emergence of Tom Papley
It was a breakthrough season for a number of Swans but none more so than for rookie Tom Papley. The plumber from Bunyip forced his way onto the senior list ahead of Round one before making his debut in the season opener. A three-goal match in a classic crumbing forward performance had many Swans fans licking their lips. The small forward would go on to kick 29 goals in 20 matches during 2016 becoming an important cog in the Swans charge into a Grand Final.
Premiership defender Ted Richards announced his retirement from the Club mid-way through the season. Much loved among the red and white faithful, Richards has been a popular and integral member of Sydney’s team for the past 11 years. Richards joined the Club from Essendon during the 2005 trade period with 33 games under his belt. Originally recruited as a forward, it was in the backline where Richards played out the majority of his career and emerged as one of the competition’s elite fullbacks. Richards’ most memorable season was in 2012 when he played an outstanding role in the Club’s premiership triumph, was rewarded with a maiden All Australian guernsey and finished runner-up in the Club Champion award.
Grand Final appearance
The Swans lost just five games during the home and away season including three by five points or less to cement their position as the most consistent team of the season. With most writing the new wave of Swans off at the start of the season it was the youth that saw the team make it to the final stage. The Clubs last Grand Final appearance came in 2014 and once again in 2016 they would fall short, losing to the Western Bulldogs by 22 points.
Seven fresh faces
With more than 1000 games of experience departing at the end of the 2015 season many questioned who would stand up for the Swans in 2016. Plenty of fresh faces shone through with seven players making their debut in a sign of a bright future for the club. Callum Mills, Tom Papley, George Hewett, Jack Hiscox, Jordan Foote, Aliir Aliir and Harry Marsh all played their first game of AFL. Mills, Papley, Hewett, Aliir and Marsh had become permanent senior footballers by the end of the season.