The Spirited Swan (nee Avenging Eagle) and I journeyed the hour south of Perth to satellite city Mandurah to see their nephew play his second league game for Swan Districts against the Docker affiliated Peel Thunder.
The record injury toll at Fremantle meant there were few familiar names on the player list of fourth placed Peel, while cellar dweller Swans had only won one game before the State game bye. The overnight rain had cleared to a brisk clear day with a three-goal breeze blowing toward the northern end.
Peel started brightly with the wind while the Black Ducks were unfamiliar with playing against equally inexperienced opponents. A 50 metre penalty against former Carlton man-child Josh Bootsma gifted Swans a goal and a narrow five-point lead right on quarter time.
Docker Clancee Pearce limped off at quarter time with an ankle injury, reappearing later on the bench in a moon boot so as to fit in at Dockers ICU on Monday morning. The Swans could hardly believe their good fortune and the lack of competitive pressure from Peel.
Swans players ran in unison and their eight goal to one second quarter was the unbridled joy of a team starting to believe in one another. Josh Bootsma limped (sulked?) off at half time with 2 possessions and did not rejoin the contest. Another black mark against recruiting ex-AFL mercenaries.
The septuagenarian Swans cheer squad around us commiserated Peel fans with lines like “the moon has more flags than Peel”. Several lamented passing up the 4/1 available for Swans before the bounce. Perhaps understandable in a long season when the Black Ducks were 1-10 before today.
The second half meandered to a conclusion with Swans dominating early parts of both quarters but running out of legs late. Peel fought on to avoid humiliation but it was still a comfortable 39 point victory to Swans 18.10 (118) to 12.7 (79).
Veteran Tony Notte was BOG with a 10 mark and 23 disposals game for Swans at centre half back. Jacob Burnham, Warwick Wilson, Adam Faulkner and Matt Reggio (above) were among the many dominant Swans running players. Ricky Cary gave Swans a marking target with six goals at full forward. Special mention on his return to man mountain Troy Yukich whose 50 hitouts gave Swans first use and allowed Notte and Ames to return to the key defensive positions.
For Peel Rory Obrien was a busy as usual with 38 possessions and Andrew Haydon collected 30.
The Croatian judge gave Swans second game defender Brandon Erceg (number 35) 3 votes.