The Lessons of 2020 – How The Swans Learned To Fight


Allow me to take you back in time to a point when the Sydney Swans learnt how to defend.

Usually, when I jump into the Mongrel Time Machine, I go back to a time and a place filled with pleasant memories. However, this time… we are going back to a dark time, and a dark place.

In July of 2020, the world – not just the football world – resided in a place of fear, restrictions, and lockdowns. I know, I know… I’d like to forget that time, as well, but for the sake of this article, it is quite important.

On the 12th of the month, a Sydney team, coming off a humbling 15th place finish in 2019, encountered the reigning premiers. Everyone expected this to be a bloodbath. Even with the shortened quarters (which basically made the season statistically irrelevant), the Richmond Tigers were the powerhouse of the league – not just “A” powerhouse… they were THE team to beat, as would be evidenced by their third flag in four years just a few short months into the future.

But that is a trip in the Mongrel Time Machine for another day. On this occasion, we are concentrating on the day the Swans learnt to combat a powerhouse. And hasn’t that held them in good stead?

At the time, you could be forgiven for thinking that this game against the Tigers was as boring as hell. The truth is, it was. To call it a dour slog would be offensive to all other dour slogs we’ve seen over the last few years – this was a horrible game of football, resembling more a collective of ugly ducklings than a flock of Swans taking on the Tigers. It resulted in a scoreline that more resembled a quarter-time score than that of a full game.

Yes, the Tigers won the game, as expected. However, the way they did it was unexpected. Richmond notched a scoreline of 4. 10. 34 to knock over the 3. 8. 26 managed by the Swans, but Sydney were winners this day, and the footy world weren’t even aware of it.

Perhaps none of us really were until very recently?


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