Saturday’s Grand Final, the 116th culmination to a season in VFL/AFL history, will feature two teams on the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as predicted season outcomes are concerned.
Hawthorn, despite starting slowly, was touted as early premiership favourites, almost expected to win the flag by the time things started to fall in place on the field.
On the other hand, Sydney was never expected to finish in the top four. The Swans were never premiership favourites, and still aren’t, were never rated as having one of the best teams in the competition and were never even considered for the final day in September.
If the Swans can manage to overcome the Hawks, it throws a spin on what has become the modern understanding of the way football works. The trend suggests that after teams have a period of success, it is soon followed by a period of poor results while young bodies develop and prepare for another tilt at premiership.
Since their 2005 premiership success, Sydney’s lowest ladder position has been 12th back in 2009, the only time the Swans have missed the finals since raising the premiership cup.
The highly-publicised drafting and trading by Sydney, in order to remain in the top half of the competition, is nothing short of impressive. When you consider that at one stage the likes of Josh Kennedy, Ben McGlynn, Rhyce Shaw, Marty Mattner and Shane Mumford were considered recycled players, the Swans have done well to turn these supposed strugglers into key players.
Throw in the excellent drafting of the likes of Lewis Jetta, Kieren Jack and Daniel Hannebury, things look even more positive.
Of Sydney’s 2005 premiership team, a side that defeated West Coast by a mere four points, only four remain on the Swans’ list – Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Adam Goodes, Ryan O’Keefe and Jude Bolton. Each player was considered very talented in their own right back then and even more so now.
Although there have been plenty of talented players to join the Swans in recent years, these will have to be the players that win the game.
Of all the years the Swans could have dropped down and stayed down for quite some time, the four aforementioned names personify all that is the Sydney Swans’ nature – never give in.
Whether it’s a win, loss or draw for the Swans come Grand Final day, their season can be considered an overwhelming success.
If 2012 is anything to base next year on, Sydney is going to be right up there again, although if you ask any of the Swans players, it would be much better to go into 2013 as reigning premiers.