Sydney Swans facing brutal NRL reality ahead of AFL grand final

·3-min read
Buddy Franklin, pictured here in action for the Sydney Swans.
Are the Swans bigger than any NRL team in Sydney? Image: Getty


The Swans have been good for Sydney and the city good for the team – but please don’t try to convince me the love for the Bloods outstrips what we will see next week if South Sydney or Penrith meet Parramatta in the NRL grand final.

My old mate Will Swanton, writing in The Australian newspaper following the Swans' pulsating one-point win over Collingwood in the AFL preliminary final, opined the "people's club" has Sydney "in its thrall ahead of any NRL club you care to mention, the 114-year-old Rabbitohs included".

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Will, what are they putting in those pressbox sausage rolls these days?

Yes, the finish to the Swans game was epic, edge-of-your-seat, tear-inducing, headline-grabbing, atmosphere-off-the-charts sporting theatre at its best.

John Longmire's team is rightly being lauded and applauded.

They are a good, well-run organisation with a passionate fan base and have found a way into the heart of Sydneysiders since being dumped on the city's doorstep 40 years ago.

But they will never dominate the sporting landscape in Sydney like rugby league does.

Maybe it's the circles I move in or the date on my birth certificate, but the Swans are rarely a hot topic of conversation when talks turns to sport over a few schooners or a short black.

It’s all NRL with some room for cricket, maybe a few minutes of rugby and some overseas football to round things up before we move on to the pros and cons of craft beer as the meat tray ticket sellers move in.

The Swans are rarely, if ever, in the conversation and only really grab the city's full attention in moments like these.

Sydney loves a winner like no-one else, quickly kicking losers to the kerb if you can find a parking spot.

Tom Papley and Oliver Florent, pictured here celebrating the Swans' victory over Collingwood.
Tom Papley and Oliver Florent celebrate the Swans' victory over Collingwood. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Sydney radio only talking about NRL preliminary finals

Let’s take the obligatory Pitt St test. Most casual sports observers in Sydney would know Buddy Franklin and Longmire by sight and possibly Isaac Heeney, but after that would struggle to name another player if they walked down Pitt St in their civvies.

Latrell Mitchell, Nathan Cleary, Clint Gutherson, Mitchell Moses, Tommy Trbojevic and Cody Walker would all be mobbed for selfies if they walked down that same street.

Sydney's sports talk back radio shows are heavily dominated by the NRL preliminary finals, even with the Swans in the GF.

It's no slight on the red and whites, it’s just the way it is.

Isaah Yeo and Clint Gutherson, pictured here with the NRL Premiership Trophy at the Finals Series Launch.
Isaah Yeo and Clint Gutherson pose with the NRL Premiership Trophy at the Finals Series Launch. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

By this time next week, Sydney will have at least one team in the NRL grand final, two if Parramatta can overcome North Queensland.

Can you imagine the scenes if Penrith were to meet Parramatta in the first all-western Sydney grand final.

Or the stampede for tickets and the colour fans would bring to the party should Parramatta and South Sydney – boasting arguably the game's two biggest supporter groups – meet in the big one.

That's what you call genuine, full-blooded support.

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