I am not going to lie; this is not the post that I wanted to be writing after last weekend. It was not a possibility that I wanted to entertain. Sadly though, I must face the music along with all my fellow Swans fans (a loud rendition of ‘Sons of the West’). I went into Saturday filled with hope, a hope that had been steadily building throughout the regular season and then rising throughout the finals series.
Our loss to GWS appeared to have ignited a fire in the team and both Adelaide and Geelong were disposed of in fierce performances. I was really starting to believe we would win our next flag. We had the talent and now it appeared we had the momentum, the belief to win.
In one sense I was not disappointed, we performed in a manner much more reflective of our season this year. This was what we had failed to do in our last grand final appearance against Hawthorn. That was a day in which a team I had never seen before showed up, or rather didn’t show up. It was embarrassing.
There was nothing embarrassing about our performance on Saturday. We stayed in it right up to the closing stages of the game. Both teams played outstandingly. Heath Grundy played the game of his life and Josh Kennedy managed to find something when we needed it most, a fitting winner of the award for best finals player.
It was really the best way, if there is one, to lose. It was a brilliant and close game that eventually got away from us. It wasn’t a heartbreaker lost on the siren and it wasn’t a completely one-sided affair. It was excellent viewing and I was glued to my seat for the full four quarters. It really was a true grand final.
There were a number of interesting umpiring decisions and we were penalised a lot more than the Bulldogs, with 20 frees awarded compared to 8, but that is sport. It is about rising above those things and playing your own game. The crowd were yet another factor that had to be contended with; they were certainly not a friendly crew.
You can hardly blame them though; those supporters have been waiting since 1954 for this moment. I have to commend the Bulldogs, coming from 7th to win the premiership is a remarkable feat, but with the hopes and dreams of so many fans on their shoulders it must have been a tough game.
Ultimately it was their pure determination to finally break their drought that got them there. The Swans did not play poorly, they were simply beaten by something bigger. Our loss delivered a moment that Bulldogs players and fans alike have been waiting a long time for. The roar that filled the MCG was one of those amazing demonstrations of the power of sport. It was their day, it was their year. I will let them have this one. Next time however, I won’t be quite so understanding.