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.

Neil Cordy – Sydney footy’s Media Man

“The Swans, and the code of AFL football, are very grateful to have had someone with a strong media presence who had a deep understanding of the game” – John Longmire
Rod Gillett profiles the nomination of Neil Cordy to the AFL NSW Hall of Fame.

Neil Cordy has established an impressive record as a “breaking news” sports journalist across the media landscape in Sydney over the past twenty-seven years.

He has become the pre-eminent AFL media expert in Sydney after a 15-season 235 game career at Footscray (139) and the Sydney Swans (96) in the VFL/AFL ended in 1993.

After his football career, Neil stayed on in Sydney and became a sports journalist. While working for News Ltd he broke the story of the Buddy Franklin transfer to Sydney from Hawthorn in 2013, one of the biggest news stories of the decade.

But what can now be revealed is the story that “Cords” (or “Slacks” as he was known by his Swans team-mates) chose not to break.

That was the tragic death of Swans trainer Wally Jackson on the sidelines in the last quarter of the Sydney v North Melbourne game at the SCG in 2004.

Doing the “boundary-riding” for the Channel Ten live coverage of the match, Neil elected not to report on the story unfolding right before his eyes on the Swans bench as Dr Nathan Gibbs tried valiantly but ultimately unsuccessfully to revive the much-loved Swans trainer.

Channel Ten’s executive producer of sport, David Barham, just happened to be working that night fully supported Neil’s decision not to break the story.

“David and I talked the situation through. It was obvious Wally was in serious trouble. We agreed not to report on the situation unless the game was stopped and we would be forced to. It was out of respect for Wally’s family” Neil told me in the interview for this profile.

This goes to the heart of Neil Cordy’s integrity and ethics as a journalist that enabled him to earn the trust of the AFL coaches in Sydney to get access to news-breaking stories.

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire told me, “The Swans, and the code of AFL football, are very grateful to have had someone with a strong media presence who had a deep understanding of the game”.

Following his retirement from the AFL half-way through 1993 Neil started in print journalism by writing columns for The Sydney Morning Herald. He also started working on match-days for the ABC’s live broadcasts of footy in Sydney as an experts commentator.

The next season he was a boundary-rider for the Seven Network’s telecasts of AFL games in Sydney. He took up an on-air role for Galaxy Sport (the fore-runner to Fox Sports) in 1995 during the infancy of sport on pay TV in Australia.

“Cords” was lured to Channel Ten in 1996 to present sport on Ten News and reports on Sports Tonight based in Melbourne for five years then returning to Sydney where he performed the role for ten years as well as a football commentator when Ten had the rights.

He was a key member of the Ten telecast team for the AFL Grand Finals in 2005-06 that featured the Swans including the 72-year drought-breaking victory in 2005.

After ten years with Ten, Neil went to News Ltd as the Head Reporter of the AFL for the biggest selling daily newspaper in NSW, the Daily Telegraph.

Neil carved out a strong reputation as an insightful and knowledgeable reporter of football that increased following for the game in this medium. During this period he frequently appeared on Fox Sports programs such as the Back Page and Bill and Boz which did much to lift the profile of the game.

Neil finished up with the Tele at the end of the 2018 season and has since been doing match-day work for ABC Sport, which of course, has been severely disrupted this season by Covoid 19. He has, however, relished taking up the opportunity to write profiles for the inaugural AFL NSW Hall of Fame including former team-mates and opponents.

In terms of playing football, Neil had a highly distinguished career and is a member of the AFL 200 Club. He was runner-up best and fairest at the Swans in 1987 and third in 1991.

He represented Victoria twice and was a key member of NSW’s successful Origin teams in 1988 & in 1990 when the Sky Blues beat Victoria.

After finishing in the AFL, Neil joined East Sydney in 1994 as co-coach with former team-mate and great friend Rob Kerr, thus finishing off an auspicious playing career in the red, white, and blue.

The boy from East Gippsland has enjoyed the pizzazz of “bright lights, big city” life in Sydney and carved out a very fulfilling career in both football and the media. Now he has announced his retirement, and he and his wife Jeanette, will move to the Gold Coast.