With the Grand Final played and won, the long dark no football months of summer lie in wait for us. In an effort to bring some light to this miserable time, The Pinch Hitters intend to take a look back at the season that was and celebrate the great moments of season 2018. Today we shine a spotlight on the Sydney Swans. Despite an up and down season, for a team that beat the eventual premiers twice there were still many moments to remember. Lets count down the Top Five.
5. Buddy starts with a bag.
In Round One the Swans travelled to Perth to christen the new Optus Stadium. Sydney lost Sam Reid before the bounce and the game had a finals like atmosphere. Despite 53,533 West Coast fans willing them on, Buddy Franklin spoiled the Eagles housewarming. He was rampant in the first half kicking five goals and tormenting the poor Eagles defence. He finished the game with Eight goals One, Nine marks, Six inside 50’s to kick off the season in the best way possible for the men in red and white.
4. Heeney flies for a Toyota
It was a beautiful Sunday in Melbourne which saw Sydney take on the Dees at the MCG. Sydney had controlled much of the game and had earned themselves a handy lead going into the last quarter but the Demons came storming home and if not for a master stroke by John Longmire to throw Isaac Heeney behind the ball the Dee’s might have gotten over the line.
He marked everything, reading the ball like a 200 game veteran – and then it happened. Dom Tyson looked to hit Jess Hogan on the lead, but in overcooking the pass he gave Heeney the perfect sit. He flew, got a great sit and dragged down an absolute beauty. It ended up winning Heeney the Mark of the Year and was the perfect highlight to a great game from the young star!
3. Tommy stuns the Pies
In one of the games of the year the Swans and the Pies played out a classic. No team got out by more than 20 points all night. The Swans had a three goal lead heading into the last but watched Collingwood kick the next three goals to take the lead and it looked like the Pies would hold on.
Enter Tom McCartin.
As if following a perfect script for Swans fans, inside the last 3 minutes and Tom Papley drove the ball forward. Buddy brought the ball to ground, there was scuffle and somehow Tom McCartin emerged from the contest with the ball. In possession but without time to get to his feet he managed to get a kick away whilst he was laid on his side. With the crowd urging it home it trickled through for an unlikely game winning goal and setting Sydney back on track to September!
2. Ben goes bang!
Round Seven, The Hawks hosted the Swans on a balmy Friday night. Buddy Franklin was a late out and it looked like Sydney were going to have a tough time kicking a winning score. No one in the stadium could have picked how this night would end up.
Ben Ronke was playing just his third game of his career and I don’t think anyone expected that he would light up the MCG the way he did. After four goals in the first quarter the crowd started to realise what a talent this young man was. He finished the night with seven goals from 11 disposals and a huge 11 tackles for the game. Not many of the crowd knew who was before the game, but he had a night no one would ever forget!
1. Alex Johnson Returns after 2136 days.
As a Swans supporter, I couldn’t help but get super emotional when I heard that AJ had been picked for his first game since the 2012 Grand Final. Five knee reconstructions and countless operations later he had finally made his return to the big time. It was a fairy tale come to life.
The resilience he showed to never give up and keep fighting was remarkable. The raucous applause he received from the crowd every time he touched the pill showed how much respect and admiration the entire footy world had for him. He finished the night with 15 disposals, 11 marks and four tackles and proved why the Swans had shown so much faith in him.