By JESS WEBSTER
The minor premier dominated the competition this year to finish on top of the ladder. But it was the case of history repeating itself for the mighty Swans as they lost their fourth Grand Final in the past four years – all by eight points or less.
Here is the Swans’ season in review.
By the Numbers
Ladder position: 2nd
Last year: 2nd
Top 5 NEAFL MVP votes
72: Jordan Dawson
37: James Rose
30: Brandon Jack
27: Oliver Florent
25: Jeremy Laidler
Snapshot: The Swans season started with a rare loss to Brisbane in Round 1, but it was business as usual thereafter as again Sydney proved to be the benchmark of the competition with another minor premiership under its belt. But, their Grand Final curse continued when they were upset on home turf at the SCG by a spirited Brisbane side in a thrilling season decider.
Highlight: The attention of the nation descended on UNSW Canberra Oval in Round 14 when defender Alex Johnson played his first football game in 1936 days. It was in the second quarter the Swans took control of the contest with 10 goals to none. But not only did the term play a major hand in the context of the result, it played host to one of the most heartfelt moments in recent Australian sporting history when Johnson banged home a goal. He collected the Sherrin just inside the 50m arc and from a slight angle put a right-foot snap to boot to prompt an ambush of red-and-white jumpers, in which every one of his 17 teammates on the field flocked to the defender like bees to a hive.
Lowlight: Sydney has been a constant figure on the NEAFL finals stage, but has never tasted the ultimate success. History repeated itself in 2017 as the Swans lost yet another season decider in cruel circumstances, when they were left to rue missed chances at goal with 10.22 for the match. Brisbane held firm when Sydney fought back in the second half to win a nail-biting Grand Final by three points at the SCG. Sydney lost to Brisbane in the NEAFL Championship final by eight points in 2013. From 2014 onwards, when the NEAFL merged its conferences into a single league, the Swans have lost the 2014 (v Aspley), 2016 (v GWS) and 2017 (v Brisbane) Grand Finals by a combined nine points.
Star Power: Second-year Sydney draftee Jordan Dawson put injury concerns last year behind him to be one of the top contenders for the 2017 NEAFL MVP Award at just 20 years of age. The South Australian averaged an incredible 29 disposals, six tackles, five clearances, 2.5 goals, and 139 Champion Data ranking points per game, as well as being named among Sydney’s bets players the most of anyone in the side in a superb season. He wasn’t alone in earning NEAFL Team of the Year honours, with half-back Jeremy Laidler, captain Brandon Jack and dashing defender Sam Murray – who was traded to Collingwood – all rewarded for outstanding seasons.
Next Generation: The footy factory at the Swans Academy blooded more young talent in the NEAFL this year, with three players in Will Gowers, Sam Wicks and Jake Brown all earning Rising Star nominations. Wicks was a feel-good story of 2017 after the midfielder/forward was unlucky to miss out on Allies selection. He played his first NEAFL match in Round 7, and cemented his place in the team with an average of 13.5 disposals, two clearances, 3.5 tackles and more than a goal per game, earning a spot in the Swans’ strong line-up for the finals series.
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