Whether it’s the northern climate or the huge competition among football codes, the four teams in Sydney and Queensland – and their supporters – seem to handle adversity differently to their southern counterparts.
A case in point is the way the Sydney Swans are handling their disappointing season so far.
While not using the fatal ‘rebuilding’ tag, coach John Longmire has all but admitted that 2019 will see the Swans not achieving their usual high standard that has made this team so remarkably consistent over the last 15 years.
There were no calls for the coach to be replaced, only an acceptance that in the AFL world of equalisation that the inevitable will happen. For the Swans, that means the core of their great contested ball team will either retire or be poached by other cashed-up teams.
Say goodbye to Adam Goodes, Michael O’Loughlin, Toby Nankervis, Tim Membrey, Dan Hannebery and Tom Mitchell, and hello to Zak Jones, Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills. They are all good players, but they’re far way away from the magic 100 games mark.
Look at GWS after the AFL emptied their coffers and provided funds and players that the Swans could never emulate.
GWS have now an elite core of 100-gamers on the right side of 30 who will ensure ladder success for this season and the next five years.
The Swans supporters’ response isn’t to demand the board’s sacking, throw away their scarves and jerseys and cry gallons of tears.
It is OK! We get it.
Get as many games into Nick Blakey, Ben Ronke, Will Hayward, Tom McCartin, Aliir Aliir, Lewis Melican the other pre-50-gamers, and teach them the Bloods ethos: head over the ball, scrap for the inside ball and tackle ferociously.
We know that these guys cannot currently do it for four quarters in a row, but gradually with experience they will. And after some patchy results, the consistency will come and the chant of ‘Sydneeey’ will be back.
One suggestion for Longmire: Callum Sinclair is not a full-time ruckman but a pretty useful forward and back-up. Promote someone from below and get them the AFL experience. Unless they are going to buy or trade for a ready-made AFL ruckman, this is the only way.