Inside the AFL grand final: Working together, owning the middle, not banking on Buddy — how Sydney Swans can win

Flags and grand final victories are not a thing given lightly.

For much of the history of the league, the Swans of South Melbourne had propped up the bottom rungs of the ladder. Despite greats like Bob Skilton filtering through the club, the Swans spent the five decades after their loss in the 1945 “Bloodbath” grand final without so much as a finals win to their name.


To fans under the age of 35, that’s a little hard to comprehend. Since their appearance in the 1996 grand final, the Swans have missed the finals just five times. They have become a constant in September, just like the rising temperatures.

Two short years ago, the modern Swans found themselves going back in time, and down the ladder. The 2019 and 2020 seasons saw Sydney glued to the bottom four.

Coach John Longmire declared in 2019 that they were looking to the long-term.