40 Years of Footy at the SCG – The Big Games Part 2

As the game celebrates 140 years and the Swans celebrate four decades of Aussie Rules at the SCG, Neil Cordy looks back at some of the games which have made the code a key ingredient in Sydney’s sporting history.

Plugger’s Record.

Tony Lockett kicks goal 1300 to pass Gordon Coventry as game’s greatest goal kicker.

Round 10 v Collingwood 1999

When Tony Lockett went past the 1,000 goal mark in his first season at the Swans (1995) it was just a matter of time before he was threatening Gordon Coventry’s long standing record of 1,299 career goals.

He overtook Doug Wade (1,057) mid-way through 1996 and then there was only Coventry in front of him.

Appropriately the opportunity to claim the record would come against Coventry’s old team Collingwood in round 10, 1999 at the SCG.

Needing four goals to make the record his Plugger had a day out kicking nine.

He would retire at the end of the year on 1,353 before making a three game comeback in 2002 and adding another seven majors to finish on 1,360.


Nick Davis comes to save us.

Semi Final v Geelong 2005.

Four last quarter goals sink Cats and keep the dream alive.

After losing a four point heart breaker to West Coast the week before in Perth Sydney looked set for a straight sets exit when they trailed Geelong by 22 points with just over 13 minutes left in the match.

The Swans star studded forward line of Barry Hall, Michael O’Loughlin, Ryan O’Keefe and Nick Davis had managed just three goals in the first three and half quarters. Four in just over 10 minutes seemed impossible to everybody except Davis.

His first came from a snap from a stoppage close to the boundary. The second from a contested mark close to goal and the third from another snap 40 metres out.

Each goal sent the Sydney fans further into delirium. His third had them at fever pitch.

With only seconds left a perfect Jason Ball hit out helped Davis to his fourth, a left foot snap. Anthony Hudson’s call “I see it but I don’t believe it,” instantly etched into Sydney’s memory banks.

Davis’s heroics created an indisputable feeling of destiny. The Swans beat St Kilda in the Preliminary Final the following week and then West Coast by four points to break a 72 year premiership drought.


The ‘RESPECT’ match.

Round 18 v Adelaide 2015.

In the midst of the ugliest episode in the AFL’s modern history Sydney Swans fans rallied around their hero Adam Goodes.

After two years of continual booing from opposition fans and abuse and bigotry from sections of the media, Goodes walked away from the game. In his absence Swans fans, players and staff produced an outpouring of support at the round 18 match against Adelaide at the SCG.

Before the game thousands of red and white T shirts bearing Goodes number 37, produced by sympathetic fans, were handed out for free.

The Sydney banner had one word on it, ‘RESPECT.’

Lewis Jetta celebrated his opening goal to the match with his own Indigenous ‘Bird’ dance in honour of Goodes. At the seven minute mark of the third quarter, acknowledging Goodes number 37, the entire stadium rose to applaud Goodes.

The champ returned to the team the following week as Sydney took on Geelong at Kardinia Park but announced his retirement six games later after the elimination final loss to North Melbourne.


Buddy Brilliant.

Lance Franklin’s lands fourth Coleman Medal

Round 23 v Carlton 2017.

Lance Franklin started the round 23 match against Carlton five goals behind Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy.

But very quickly it became clear he was in for a day out at the SCG.

In one of his very best games in red and white Buddy kicked 10 goals, picked up 25 disposals and took 10 marks. He beat Kennedy, who had won the last two Coleman Medals, by four after the Eagles star kicked just one goal four behinds against Adelaide at Subiaco.

It continued Franklin’s run of winning the Coleman Medal every three years.




Sydney Derby Final

The first All Sydney final at the SCG.

Elimination Final Swans v GWS, 2018.

Derby finals between non-Victorian teams are extremely rare. Adelaide’s 89 point semi-final win over Port Adelaide in 2005 is was the first and only one in the AFL era before the GWS Giants arrived in 2012.

Remarkably the 10 years of the GWS Giants time in Sydney has already seen two.

The first, a qualifying final in 2016 at Stadium Australia, saw the Giants beat the Swans by 36 points.

The first at the SCG came in the 2018 Elimination Final.

40,350 packed into the SCG to watch the Giants inflict even more pain on their cross town rivals with an easy 49 point win. Lance Franklin was held goal less and the Swans managed just four goals on their home deck. Toby Greene led the way for the Giants with three goals.


Swansong for Sydney greats as Buddy celebrates 300-

Round 23, v St Kilda 2019. 

There have been a lot of pressure packed moments at the SCG over the last four decades but the round 23 clash against St Kilda in 2019 wasn’t one of them.

This was a party.

With finals out of reach for the first time since 2009 there was nothing to do but celebrate the careers of premiership heroes Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith.

In a perfect confluence of milestone’s and farewells Lance Franklin also played his 300th.game.

Grundy and Smith had finished up earlier in the year but McVeigh and Jack got to go out with their boots on. Both put icing on the celebration cake with goals which lifted the roof off the SCG grandstands. They also got to sing the Swans song one more time when they ran out comfortable 45 point winners.

The Big 3 at the SCG – Lockett, Goodes & Franklin

For much of the last 40 years former Swans and Bulldogs defender Neil Cordy has been in the media box at the SCG to witness the careers of three of the game’s greatest players on the famous ground that has hosted Australian football for 140 years.
Here, he presents their story.

Tony Lockett, Adam Goodes and Lance Franklin.

There’s been a host other outstanding contributors over the years. Paul Kelly, Michael O’Loughlin, Jude Bolton, Brett Kirk, Barry Hall, Greg Williams, Gerard Healy, Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh are champions all.

But the big three stand apart.

Size and power are their common denominator but they’ve all bought something different to the table.

Plugger was a goal scoring beast who kept the scoreboard ticking over like no player before him or since. He would physically and mentally intimidate opponents, win the ball and kick for goal with unerring accuracy.

Goodsey was poetry in motion, a super athlete who became a super footballer. In the early days he was admired for the beauty of his play, in the end he drew equal applause for his toughness and durability.

Buddy is different again. At 34 he still electrifies the crowd like nobody else in the game.

The patch of turf in front of the SCG’s Members and Ladies Stands is his favourite place. In the summer cricketers raise their bats there, in the winter its Buddy’s playground.

Tony Lockett’s 1995 arrival in Sydney from St Kilda was a game changer for both parties.

Sydney were rock bottom, financially and on the playing field. Plugger was in a slump as well as he struggled with injury in 1993 and 1994. His success in red and white was instant, kicking 110 goals for the year and leading Sydney to eight wins.

But the best was still to come.

Plugger’s Point

In 1996 Rodney Eade arrived as coach taking the Swans to their first finals series since 1987. Lockett brought up the ton again in round 19 against Richmond at the SCG kicking 12. He missed the qualifying final win over Hawthorn with a groin complaint. Two weeks later he was back in for the Preliminary final against Essendon. It was a thriller. Still struggling with injury Plugger kicked just one goal for the game and barely left the goal square. With the scores tied and the final seconds ticking down he marked on the 50 metre arc. His kick after the siren went through for a point putting Sydney into their first grand final since 1945 and sent the SCG rocking like never before.

It was just one of many magic moments the champion spearhead shared with the SCG faithful.

Another came three years later when he kicked his 1,300th to pass Collingwood’s legendary full forward Gordon Coventry’s to become the game’s greatest goal kicker.

Adam Goodes selection at pick 43 of the 1997 draft remains one of the great bargains in footy history.

Growing up he loved playing soccer and came to Aussie Rules later than most. After a slow start playing all of 1998 in the reserves he sprouted wings the following year winning the AFL’s Rising Star Award. There was no turning back from there.

Four years later (2003) he won the first of his two Brownlow Medals playing mostly in the ruck and in 2005 played a vital role in the Swans drought breaking grand final win over the West Coast Eagles.

During the year he was also awarded life membership for the Swans after playing 150 games.

The milestone along with a flag, All Australian honours and a Brownlow was more than most players dreamt of but Adam was barely getting started.

Playing in the midfield his second Brownlow came the following year and a brilliant display in the grand final against the Eagles almost landed back to back premierships. West Coast scraping home by a point.

Over the following years Goodes durability became legendary as he played 191 games straight to the end of 2007. In round four 2012 he overtook his great mate Michael O’Loughlin to become Sydney’s games record holder on 304. His finest moment would come later that year on the biggest stage with an effort of enormous courage.

Goodes’s Finest Hour – 2012 Grand Final

Adam’s form in grand finals had been strong in 2005 and 2006 but a second quarter knee injury in the 2012 decider threatened to ruin Sydney’s hopes. It was a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee but Goodes refused to go off the ground.

If he was substituted the Swans would be down a rotation with 3 quarters to play and almost certain to lose. Playing with his knee heavily strapped an unable turn left or right he had a hand in two second quarter goals and kicked a critical last quarter major to help his team get home.

When he retired in 2015 he’d played 372 games, 143 of them were at the SCG, the most of any player at the venue.

20 years after Tony Lockett’s arrival at the SCG Lance Franklin made an even bigger splash.

He was expected by most people to be heading to GWS but when Buddy signed a nine year $10 million with the Swans the footy world was rocked. The deal came with enormous expectations and the former Hawk lived up to them and delivered even more.

By year’s end he had his third Coleman Medal, finished second in the Brownlow medal and claimed his fifth All Australian selection.

Buddy Takes Over Against Port – Round13 SCG, 2014.

Buddy’s round 13 outing against Port Adelaide became an instant classic. With Port finishing strongly Buddy booted the Swans last five goals of the match to hold them out. His last two goals were both candidates for goal of the year, one from 70 metres out and the other beating a quartet of opposition defenders.

The Swans lost the grand final to Hawthorn but it wasn’t Franklin’s fault as he kicked four goals from limited opportunities.

Injury has hampered his recent years in red and white but Sydney’s fans have been treated to a lifetime worth of goals and entertainment.

His round 22 effort in 2017 was another memorable outing at the SCG. Trailing Coleman medal leader Josh Kennedy by five goals Franklin kicked 10 against Carlton to beat him by four. It also continued his run of winning the medal every three years.

Sydney fans have also had the pleasure of watching their hero climb the ladder of all time goal kickers from 35th to sixth. He is now closing in on the 1,000 goal mark not achieved since Gary Ablett Snr. in 1996.

By good luck or good management every milestone match from 200 to 300 has been played at the SCG. If he can hold out till next year his 1000th could be there as well.