Fan Girl Friday – Best Football Team Eva! by Cathryn Hein

2012 Grand FinalWhat an opportunity! An entire blog post where I get to wax lyrical about my darling Sydney Swans, the most beautiful Australian Rules Football team in existence. Thanks, Paula.  Oh, stop looking at me like that, all grumpy and scowly. You know how much I love my boys. Of course I was going to blog about them!

Ahh, what a year was last year. My red and white beloveds made it all the way to the Grand Final against Hawthorn and won in what proved to be an absolute thriller of a game. I cried, as I did when they won back in 2005. They were so brave, so hungry for that win. So magnificent.

Yes, I love my footy team. Probably a little bit obsessively, but a girl’s got to have a hobby and watching sexy fit men in red shorts is mine. Besides, I’m a romance writer. I need this kind of research!

So how does a girl from South Australia start barracking for a Sydney based AFL team? Well, the truth is I wasn’t always a Swans fan. I know, I know. They were the dark days before I found enlightenment. It was my mum’s fault really, and her Carlton obsession. Those cries of “Jesaulenko!” during the 70’s and “Kernahan!” during the 80’s infected my brain, and I found myself cheering the Blues alongside her. Yes, dark days indeed.

Swans trainingThen along came a St Kilda player by the name of Tony Lockett. Sigh. I still get the girlie wobbles at the mention of his name. The greatest goal-kicker the AFL has ever seen and is ever likely to ever see. And I loved him, even though he played for the Saints. By that time I’d moved away from South Australia, first to Victoria and then New South Wales, where not a whole lot of Aussie Rules found its way onto the telly. All the Swans games were broadcast though, so I’d get my footy fix by watching them. One day, to my utter, utter joy, the Swans recruited Plugger (Tony’s nickname) and I was a goner. The Swans became my boys and I’ve stayed faithful ever since.

Greatest Swans moment? I don’t know, there have been a few. But I still remember the 1996 Preliminary Final against Essendon. With 17 seconds left on the clock and the scores tied, Plugger marked the ball 50 metres out from goal. Any score would do it but Plugger had a groin injury (it seemed like the world was obsessing about Tony Lockett’s groin that season) and no one was sure he could do it. The siren sounded. Swans fans went to their knees in prayer. Plugger lined up, kicked and DID IT! A point instead of a goal, but what a point. I think I cried then too.

Here it is on YouTube so you can experience the emotion for yourself.

But the game is all about winning premierships and our wins in 2005 and 2012 are treasured things. The 2005 Grand Final win was amazing. We were living in France at the time and could only get AFL via an internet subscription, and on 24 hours delay. To stop hearing the result we didn’t answer our phones, check email or watch anything other than the French music channel for over a day. Friends and family were warned that there’d be dire consequences for any result revealing. If I thought the delay was stressful enough, it was nothing compared to the game. Another typical Swans down-to-the-wire show, with me a complete nervous wreck and full of bad thoughts that those rotten West Coast Eagles were going to steal our glory. But Leaping Leo Barry saved the day with a magnificent grab in the dying seconds and victory was ours.
Ahh, memories. I’m sure my red and white boys will give me many more yet.

Heartland_cvr_640x480Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse-mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned. Armed with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture), she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her debut rural-set romance, Promises, released in 2011, followed by Heart of the Valley in 2012. Cathryn’s third novel, Heartland, is out now.

Connect with Cathryn via her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.