2013 AFL Season review: Sydney Swans

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    Whilst season 2013 will go down as a moderately successful season for the Sydney Swans, it will also be remembered for the heavy injury toll which threatened to bring their premiership defence crashing down.

    In the face of their worst injury toll since 1999, the Swans still continued their remarkable finals record by finishing in the top eight for the 15th time in the past 18 years.

    They were also able new players who did their part in filling the void left by the injured seniors.

    Let’s now take a look back at the failed premiership defence that was the Sydney Swans.

    What went right
    Once again, the Swans enjoyed another solid season which saw them qualify for the finals for the 15th time in 18 years.

    The season started off with two victories over the AFL’s expansion clubs (GWS and the Gold Coast), a dream start which had Eddie McGuire fuming, after the Swans had captured last year’s flag.

    They also managed a victory on the big Friday night stage against Collingwood at the MCG in Round 9, though that victory was tainted by the incident involving Adam Goodes, which will be recapped a bit later.

    Kurt Tippett came straight into the side following his half-season long suspension for his role in Adelaide’s salary cap tampering scandal.

    Immediately he felt right at home – right at the beginning of the Swans’ match against Port Adelaide in Round 13, the ball cleared the centre square, found Tippett, who from there kicked the opening goal of the game.

    The Swans also compiled a six-match winning streak from rounds 14-19, all achieved without Adam Goodes, who, unknowingly, would not play again this season after Round 13.

    The club were also able to blood new players in the face of the club’s growing injury toll – Dane Rampe, Brandon Jack, Xavier Richards and Harry Cunningham, among others, tasted senior football for the first time and slotted into the Swans’ line-up very well.

    On an overall basis, their continued impressive results was what landed them a double chance for the second consecutive year in a row.

    What went wrong
    The Swans’ injury toll was well-documented this year, as it attempted to sabotage the club’s premiership defence.

    The carnage started in the pre-season when Alex Johnson ruptured his ACL, thus ruling him out for the entire year.

    Then, Lewis Roberts-Thomson went down with a knee injury in Round 4, and did not take any further part in the season.

    Lewis Jetta then suffered a shin injury in Round 10 and did not return until the finals, but the injury which affected the team most was that of Adam Goodes in Round 13.

    The dual-Brownlow Medallist injured his knee in the loss to Port Adelaide midway through the season and would play no further part in the Swans’ premiership defence.

    Sam Reid and Rhyce Shaw also spent prolonged periods of time on the sidelines.

    Eventually it was this long injury toll which contributed to their ending the season poorly, whereby it lost five of their last seven games, including a pair of losses to Hawthorn and the preliminary final against Fremantle.

    The Swans also failed to beat any of the teams above them on the ladder, the closest coming when they drew with Fremantle back in Round 8.

    The draw was made all the more disappointing given the Swans had led by 27 points midway through the final quarter, only to switch off with their minds clearly on the following game against Collingwood.

    The victory over the Pies in the week after the draw against the Dockers was tainted by the racial slur made towards Adam Goodes, whereby a teenage girl called the dual-Brownlow Medallist an “ape”.

    It was an impressive victory for the Swans on that Friday night back in May but it was sad that the performance by the team overall had to be soured by such a terrible act of racism.

    The future
    The off-season will give the Swans’ senior personnel more time to recover from their injuries, and hopefully with a full squad intact, they will be able to challenge for yet another finals series in 2014.

    Jude Bolton, however, will be sorely missed after he played his 325th and final game in the preliminary final loss to Fremantle over the weekend.

    Ryan O’Keefe has also expressed the Swans’ desire in luring Collingwood defender Heath Shaw up north, a move that would see the Shaw brothers re-united.

    But will it actually happen? It’ll be interesting to see how the Swans play their cards in next month’s AFL Draft.

    Questions the fans will want answered in 2014
    – Can the Swans remain injury-free throughout the season?
    – Will next year be Adam Goodes’ final year?
    – Can the club’s youngsters continue their rapid progress?

    And last but not least…
    – Can the Swans challenge for another premiership next year?

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • September 26th 2013 @ 6:08am
      Peter Scobie said | September 26th 2013 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      What about mentioning tom Mitchell? Great new talent that surprised everyone.

    • September 26th 2013 @ 10:31am
      clipper said | September 26th 2013 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Hopefully the SCG will be finished by next year and once the contract runs out at ANZ all games will be played there.

      • September 26th 2013 @ 3:57pm
        Christo the Daddyo said | September 26th 2013 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

        There are another two seasons to go on that contract…:(

    • September 26th 2013 @ 11:04am
      Livvi said | September 26th 2013 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      I choose to focus solely on the positives of 2013 as I look forwards. Any team hit by injury the way the Swans were is forced to play their kids; the difference is, our kids performed heroically and with such maturity that we made a Preliminary Final. Rampe, Mitchell, Brandon Jack and Cunningham showed skill and poise well beyond their years, Biggs and Xavier Richards will be better players for the experience and Lamb and White showed enough that they should be sought after at the trade table. I’d add Bird to the list of expendables as well; I don’t see any improvement left in him. Then we have Mumford. If we must lose him then he should rightly demand a very high price indeed and I would be looking for a mix of experienced player and high draft pick. Colin Sylvia and Melbourne’s Second round pick would be interesting, though Pears and Colyer from Essendon could tempt me too. Longer and Yeo and Brisbane’s first round pick for Mumford and White could be very tempting indeed.

      The year also let us see who to move on. Morton went voluntarily, Walsh, Armstrong and Towers showed they are not at the standard required but might be used as padding in a trade. Realistically, for players like Lockyer, Brown, Membery and Naismith, not even making the emergency bench should rightly be making them very nervous about their future.

      My wish list in the trade period is a small one; Heath Shaw, Luke Delaney from North and Elliot Yeo from Brisbane. All three would be excellent fits within our existing structure and should be obtainable with what we have to offer. Lamb for Delaney would be snapped up and so would White for Shaw. Yeo would need some work and convincing not to return to Victoria but I have faith in our recruiting staff and the White/Mumford Brisbane deal I mentioned earlier is well worth pursuing.

      I’d love to hear your comments on my thoughts.

      • September 26th 2013 @ 11:41am
        michael r said | September 26th 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

        All this talk of Mummy leaving makes me sad. He’s a terrific asset, a great runner for a huge man, and he’s all about team and success. Mummy has almost been ‘best on ground’ many times this season and his experiemce will serve us well. Pykie’s fantastic, but the mummy/pyke combination is what can make or break a premiership.

    • September 26th 2013 @ 11:44am
      michael r said | September 26th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      And ….. Would be HUGE if we picked up the other Shaw brother, if he passes the ‘no dickheads’ test (I wonder ?). That would take pressure of Mal, account for Ryce retiring soon, and free up our captain to get into the mix, slotting pin-point passes into the forward 50.

      • September 26th 2013 @ 2:30pm
        andyincanberra said | September 26th 2013 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        His talent is beyond doubt and would be at an asset at almost any team, but don’t get your hopes up about him wearing red and white next year. My understanding is that he hasn’t really fitted into the ‘Leading teams’ way of doing things at Collingwood. Leading Teams are very highly regarded in Sydney, and the Bloods culture is testament to its success. IMO, the Swans won’t recruit somebody that would embrace Leading Teams wholeheartedly.

    • September 26th 2013 @ 11:55am
      Rich_daddy said | September 26th 2013 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      I think you have very high expectations if you consider defeat in a preliminary final “moderately” successful.

      To make a preliminary final is a good achievement. To do so with the amount of injuries the Swans faced it is exceptional. The Swan’s main stregth is they rarely drop games to ordinary teams. Port Adelaide was really their only game where they “slipped up”, though considering how well Port did this year, that loss on reflection is probably not as bad as it seemed at the time.

      If the Swans have a better run with injuries, another flag is not beyond them.

      Regarding a shopping list for the off-season, a quality small forward to work at the feet of Tippett is in order. They also need to spend some time looking at thier forward structure and delivery. At times in the back half of the season they were way too reliant on Tippett and their attack became very predictable.

      • September 26th 2013 @ 3:14pm
        Matt F said | September 26th 2013 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        Agree. With a good run of injuries, a prelim final finish would be a moderate success. With the injuries throughout it’s actually a very good season.

        Agree that a small forward would be very handy. Another runner off half back (Heath Shaw has obviously been mentioned) wouldn’t hurt either. We might also need to look for a ruckman if Mumford leaves. Long-term we need another tall defender to replace Richards but that’s not really a necessity for another year or so.

    • September 26th 2013 @ 4:03pm
      Christo the Daddyo said | September 26th 2013 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

      Imagine the team with Jetta and Rohan (both at full fitness) on each wing…

      Alternatively, either could possible fit the bill of a small forward I guess. And it was interesting that White and Tippett looked as if they were starting to work out a real combination.

      I’d be grooming Sam Reid for Ted Richards’ replacement. There was one game just before he got injured where he was sent back into defence – I thought he looked really good there.

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