As the game celebrates 140 years and the Swans celebrate four decades of Australian Football 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.
South goes North.
Round 1, 1982 v Melbourne.
Round one 1982 was the Sydney Swans first game at the SCG but footy authorities were eyeing the Harbour city long time before the historic match.
Way back in 1903 when the VFL was only seven years old Fitzroy took on Collingwood and beat them by 17 points. There were two more matches over the following 12 months and another two in the 1950s and 1970s.
As the VFL pushed for a presence in Australia’s biggest city six more games came in 1980-81 including two from South Melbourne. But it wasn’t until March 28, 1982 that Sydney had their own team when the Swans moved from the Lake Oval to the SCG.
They got off to the perfect start perfect start beating Melbourne by 29 points. The historic team included many who would become club greats. Barry Round was captain of a team which featured future skippers Mark Browning and Denis Carroll and club greats like Rod Carter, Tony Morwood, and Steve Wright. All of them went on to chalk up more than 200 games for the red and white.
Four years later in 1986 Sydney made their first finals appearance, a losing qualifying final against Carlton at the MCG.
Horse rides into town.
NSW V Vic 1990
John Longmire was still only 19 but in blistering form when he lined up for his home state NSW against Victoria.
He’d kicked more than 30 goals in the lead up to the SCG match including 12 against Richmond in round two.
He was taking on some of the game’s best defenders including Steve Silvagni, Chris Langford and Danny Frawley but they could do nothing to contain the kid from Corowa who booted eight for the night in an epic 10 point win.
The match also featured the four Daniher brothers, Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris playing together for the first time.
A 19 year old Wayne Carey who at that stage had played only 12 games was also in the Sky Blue’s line up. Carey wore the number 26 in nod to Swans champ Steve Wright who had taken a teenage Carey aside for some extra work at a clinic in Wagga Wagga years earlier.
The Dark Ages.
Ozzie Osborne kicks 10 to stop the rot.
Round 13, 1993.
The three years between 1992 and 1994 seasons were literally the ‘Dark Age’ of the Swans time in Sydney.
Three consecutive wooden spoons confirmed the club’s standing as the worst in the competition. The lowest ebb came with a 26-game losing streak between round 8, 1992 and round 13, 1993.
Former Fitzroy Lion Richard Osborne was the star of the drought breaking win over Melbourne with 10 goals. It was their only win for the year. Osborne’s match winning haul came just weeks after a horrific head clash with team-mate Dale Lewis. The collision occurred directly in front of the SCG Members Stand and caused Osborne to convulse on the ground. It was a horrible sight for all those who witnessed it. The game was stopped for more than 20 minutes as paramedics treated him where he lay before taking him to hospital in an ambulance. Remarkably he returned to action three weeks later. It would be his only season in red and white as he moved to Footscray at the end of the year.
Qualifying Final v Hawthorn 1996.
First final at SCG,
In front of full house Cresswell goal in last minute wins match.
Despite finishing second and third respectively in 1986 and 1987 the Swans were forced to play all their finals in Melbourne against their Victorian opponents. Not surprisingly they lost them all.
Ten years later the first final was played at the SCG. The match was worthy of the occasion. With Tony Lockett out with a groin injury Sydney found other goal kickers in Craig O’Brien (5) and Jason Mooney (3). In the closing minute with scores locked Daryn Cresswell marked at the top of the goal square and kicked truly for a six point win. It would set up an even bigger stage for Tony Lockett to perform on two weeks later.
Preliminary Final v Essendon 1996,
With Rodney Eade at the helm the Swans were back in the finals for the first time since 1987. Tony 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.
The solitary point was a game changer in every sense of the word.
With the NRL in the middle of their Super League War the Swans success was cutting through into the mainstream Sydney like never before.
It was also the start of an unprecedented period of success which would see Sydney play in every finals series except three (2000, 2002 and 2009) over the next 23 years. The run included six grand finals (1996, 2005, 2006, 2012, 2014, 2016) and two premierships (2005 and 2012).