Ahead of Lance ‘Buddy’ Frankin’s 300th game against St Kilda at the weekend, I’ve been thinking about his decision in the 2013 trade period to sign with the Sydney Swans.
The Round 21 2011 MCG clash against the Tigers will go down as one of the most insipid displays from the proud Bloods in a long time. Out-muscled, out-enthused, outwitted and outplayed, an inspired Richmond ran riot in a stunning performance against the much more fancied Swans.
Yet another MCG loss and alarmingly Sydney’s once-assured finals berth was at risk of being taken away. The lack of conviction, energy and guile made them look like a team devoid of ideas and belied their status as one of the toughest and most disciplined teams in the competition.
Even the most avid fan would have been feeling the pinch after the heartbreaking one-point loss to the Bombers the week before. If Sydney were to resurrect their season, it would take some sort of magic.
Stunning wins over St Kilda and Geelong as well as a thumping of Brisbane havw left Sydney once again in the finals hunt.
Where has this 180-degree form reversal come from? Simple – a return to trademark Swans footy. Back to basics, one-on-one contested football. Sydney looked slow, old and lacking vigour compared to the run, robustness and vitality of the young Tiger cubs.
However, when looking at this team it no longer contains an old list renowned for its defensive and negating football. The Brett Kirk, Ben Matthews, Leo Barry, Jared Crouch, Nic Fosdike, Stuart Maxfield and Craig Bolton have departed, and with them the discipline, doggedness and determination.
So has the slowness, blandness and boringness. In light of the recent reversion to an attacking, accountable and enterprising gameplan that retains the classic Bloods ethos of toughness and discipline, it raises questions as to whether the Swans are in need of a full-blooded transformation from the Paul Roos Sydney to the John Longmire Sydney.
“Horse” has done well in his first year, but must stamp his own mark and turn to a more attacking approach if they are to achieve success this year and beyond.
This current crop contains the likes of Kieran Jack, Gary Rohan, Lewis Jetta, Dan Hannebery, Brett Meredith, Luke Parker, Nathan Gordan, Craig Bird, Alex Johnson and Benny McGlynn, who are more skillfull, faster and silkier than their predecessors.
Playing to one’s strengths is what brings success and considering the emergence of two marking options in Sam Reid and Jesse White, an emphasis on attacking with a bit of gusto and vigour will only further liberate this talented Sydney team.
This week’s elimination final against the Saints is the biggest game of many of these young Swans’ careers, and off the back of some impressive form there is no reason why they cannot dream of more trips to the MCG.
The brilliant Adam Goodes epitomises what future Sydney could look like: full of flair, determination and exuberance.
Off the back of his virtuoso displays there’s no reason why Sydney can’t give September an almighty shake, and more importantly inspire this new crop of emerging stars to enhance an already enviable culture.