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"THE MAN ON THE FENCE"
NEW HOPES FOR SWANS SUPPORTERS
NEW hopes arise in the hearts of Griffith Swans supporters this season. There is every good reason for those hopes, for there is a feeling of confidence in our Swans camp. The first reason for this was displayed during our two trial matches, when most of the newcomers were on view. They gave a good impression, and the general opinion is with their available resources the Club Executive have done a good stroke of work during the close season. Of course, it is much too early to clinch on to an eighteen which will produce that consistent form necessary to emerge from one of the bottom end League sides where our boys have been members for the past two seasons.
Changes in the composition of the side will bound to come, and we should not be too concerned about them, for I can never recollect when our Swans had the material for such a good reserve side. No team can progress unless they have that standby, for every position in the senior side should be duplicated and, if at all possible, triplicated.
For this our first match of the season we welcome old friends in Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes to the Exies Oval.
Like other clubs in the League, they have undergone many changes. Under practically a new directorate, like ourselves, they have few players who did service with them in pre-covid days, and with their first-ever RFL premiership in view they have got together quite a useful number of players. However, we shall be able to get a better line on their future hopes by their performance and ours after the opening round is played. (11-4-23).
A DRAW TO START THE SEASON
THE start of RFNL season is safely underway and half a loaf is better than none. If anyone had asked me to forecast this result well never in a million years, would I have selected a draw - our first ever in 60 meetings with Mangoplah.
Last Saturday's well attended game, proved we have the players on the books possessed with talent that will hold us, with the average amount of good luck, in the upper half of the ladder, and naturally we look forward to improving our position in the League Ladder compared with that of last season. It would be unfair to single out any individual, but I would like to say it is with satisfaction that I saw such youngsters as Ollie Bartter, Nicholas Conlan, Mason Rosengreen and Broden Spencer of last season's Under 17's premiership side holding their own against the more experienced players. All concerned can say, a satisfactory start, without being too much optimistic.
The Reserve side played a very good game and came up with four points in the bag. Like so many of these good games, it is hard to single out any particular player, and in this game, all the boys played together as one unit. The young players in the side all did well and if they can keep that form up, then they will be knocking for recognition in the first team. New player Craig Violi, playing his first game of Aussie Rules, unfortunately sustained a fractured ankle and will be out for a week or so, we all wish him a speedy recovery.
The under 17's was, I regret to say, not so hot as far as the result goes, but we saw some interesting football, and even if a good deal of it came from the visitors, let us say thank you to them for their display. In this game some of young players were lacking in experience, and whilst they had the right spirit, it was the lack of experience which told at the end. Nevertheless, on reflection, they did well to hold the strong Goannas team to an 79-point loss. (19-04-23).
ONE MORE WEEK ON THE ROAD FOR OUR SWANS
THREE games have been played since my last notes have been read by you and still undefeated in both senior and reserve grades. We should all be proud of our performances to date as both teams have shown themselves capable of first-class football.
Our senior Swans are going strongest and while I did not think our boys would lose at Ganmain, but to be quite frank, I never expected victory by 65 points. The game was interesting and evenly fought out. The Lions team appeared to be much heavier than the majority of our boys, with the exception, maybe, of Nathan Richards. Nathan, nevertheless, showed a clean pair of heels of those much lighter and he reminded us he has that football sense which is so often the difference between a star and ordinary player. He proved on game-day that the more work the brain does in this game, the less the legs have to do.
Two weeks on we went to Leeton and gave our best display so far, before a very meagre crowd. The strength of our performance lay in an all-out effort from everyone in the team determined to carry the day. It would be unfair to single out any individual, but I would say how pleased coach "Fifty" Dreyer was with the spirit of all 21 of them.
On Saturday last at the spacious Narrandera Sportsground, we were given quite a good afternoon's sport, and it was a most interesting and thrilling game to watch. Whilst it was nice for our Swans to have collected all four points, the game is the thing, and I think you must agree it was good watching even though the result was probably not what the Imperials wished for.
After four games we are still among the elite of the unbeaten, in contrast to last year. With one more away trip to come, we hope our boys can reproduce their away form at home and give our supporters a treat they deserve. (15-05-23)
SURELY OUR SWANS ARE NOT ON THE SLIDE
SINCE my last notes much has happened in respect to our position on the Riverina League ladder, having dropped from a prominent position with the leaders to 4th. Our Swans top of the ladder clash at Maher Oval with Turvey Park was without doubt a tale of two halves. There was no doubt Turvey were the better side in the first half and deserved their four-goal lead, but we must be frank and honest by stating herein that the form shown by the boys in the first half was a little below par.
The second half was completely different as our Swans shifted up a couple of gears and steamroll their hosts, rattling in nine goals to three leaving them 15 points in front. Turvey looked all at sea with about ten minutes remaining until the result of the game was turned on its head by two umpire clangers. I have nearly always been careful regarding being critical of officials, but in my opinion in this incidence the 'men in white' are not always right.
Conclusions formed from the game lead one to believe that spectators should be allowed to express more forcibly their disapproval of umpires than their command of language at present permits. If an umpire does not suit the spectators, it is only right that they should be allowed to hang them from top of the nearest goal post. If he is not altogether incapable, we'll let him off with the loss of two ears, or else tar and feather him.
After all that I now turn to our match against Coolamon Rovers on Sunday last and with the exception of the first ten minutes of the game Hoppers dominated the play and put up a show of first-class football. Their desperate and fierce first-time tackling tended to put our boys off the style of football that we have been accustomed to lately. On this display against us I am sure that Jake Barrett' Boys will creep up the Ladder.
Our Swans have reached a stage when we must not take things for granted and hopefully our boys are fully aware that every game they play will be of 'win at all costs' atmosphere. And knowing as I do, I am confident that they have the ability and possess the calmness that is so essential for a team to have when fighting for a top five position of the League. (30-05-23)
BE PREPARED FOR OUR SWANS VISIT TO ROBERTSON OVAL
ON Saturday next, our Griffith Swans make the trip to Robertson Oval to play Wagga Tigers which will mark halfway of the regular Riverina FNL season. From recollection I have always found it to be a difficult place to go at this stage of the season when we are trying to get a result.
If you are looking for a ground with plenty of cover, seating and car parking, "Robbo" would not be the place to visit.
The main grandstand built above the club offices, dressing rooms offers quite a good view of the action. Admission to the grandstand is free, which is just as well as there is no further cover for spectators. Holds about 200 and so on a wet day you should be able to remain dry.
Nowadays, they are lucky if they get 25 to 50 to their home games so there shouldn't be any problem finding a seat.
There is grass standing embankment which surrounds three-quarters of the ground but with no proper stands at all, it is difficult to imagine how more than 2,000 at the most could possibly get a good view of the game.
There is a well-stocked canteen on the other side of the main stand / dressing rooms, serving a wide range of hot and cold drinks, pies, hot dogs, burgers, snacks and confectionery. There are adequate toilet facilities, and this council owned ground have flood lights, where midweek school games are played. The Tigers club room are spacious enough to swing a cat or two while the bar is highly recommended, it has a good range of local and national beverages. Come on Cob and Pen Swans - it's our time! 15/06/23.
A RECORD TO BE PROUD OF
AFTER hosting Collingullie-Glenfield Park two weeks ago, Our Swans made it two wins in a row when they put up a sparkling show at Robertson Oval against Wagga Tigers last Saturday, and by the win, have jumped up to second place on the Riverina League ladder. Our points for and against is surprisingly good. No Club, have fewer points scored against them and no other Club have scored more points than the Swans. A record to be proud of.
Who can tell, points average may play a most important part in the team's final five placing, and I am certain that our defence will see to it that on their side of the fence the barrier is up. It would be invidious of me to select any particular player for special praise, and as it was a great all-round teamwork, and the wonderful team spirit which won us the game.
While nothing but praise can be given to our players, I know the boys will not mind me mentioning Henry Delves. This player had a very good game despite the fact he made many blunders when shooting for goal, but not once did I hear any supporters make any adverse criticism. Keep up your good work supporters.
On Saturday, we welcome the Players and Supporters of Leeton-Whitton Crows to Exies Oval. It's been a hugely frustrating season for our near Neighbour's but to sum up their campaign so far it all comes down from losing top players without replacing them. In times when coaches come and go constantly, it's quite refreshing that the Crows have continued to keep faith with coach Tom Groves. He's got the best out failing players two years ago and he's doing the same now with a very young lot. 22/06/23.
SWANS OUT OF TOWN FOR THE WEEKEND
OUR Griffith Swans are now entering upon a trying time and, probably by end of the month we shall have a pretty good idea as our top three finals ambitions will be realised or not. Certainly, our boys are playing consistent football at the moment, and the last three victories must be acknowledged as excellent performances. Against Leeton-Whitton, at home before the bye, the result was never in doubt, although we must frankly admit that the opposition can only be described as a moderate side, and in consequence the game, after the opening half, proved to be of the ordinary type. It must be remembered, however, that the windy conditions were all against accurate football, yet again our Swans generally showed themselves to be the more superior and talented side.
On Saturday next, our Swans will be "out of town" for the weekend for the return match against Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes. The Goannas ground has not always proved a lucky one for Griffith, four wins from their last twenty encounters, but we must make every effort to change the luck otherwise good-bye to our minor premiers hopes. I think by the time next Saturday evening we will have some sort of indication as to the real premiership favourites. At the moment the outlook is still rather obscure. 05/07/23
A MATCH TO BE REMEMBERED
"ONE of the classics of the season" was the verdict of the majority who attended the Mangoplah Sportsground last Saturday, and I am quite in agreement. It was certainly a match to be remembered for all those missed scoring chances, mainly coming from our boys in the third term. Otherwise, it was a game in which all 42 players on the day revelled in overcast and windy weather conditions, played good football and fought for the whole 100 minutes. Mangoplah Goannas played well, in fact, as well as any team we have met this season.
I do not wish to single out any Griffith player for special praise, as from Charlie Cunial in fullback to Henry Delves at full-forward, they played as a team inspired. Bailey Morrissey certainly confirmed that he is a player of great promise by his all-round display and his cleverly taken goals. To this young player great credit is due to the fact that he has adapted himself to Australian Rules football in such a short space of time. Just over five years ago, he was starring at the round ball code in the Griffith district before switching to the Sherrin ball.
While it is far too early to talk of final ladder placings, but with the season a half on its way, our boys have shown grand results. Although we have not the best home record (this belongs to Turvey Park), we have gained more points on visits to other grounds than any other club.
It is the fighting spirit of our boys that has put us in the premiership hunt and with the good support they receive from supporters, etc., I am confident we will be thereabout at the kill.
This Saturday afternoon we welcome our friends from Turvey Park and trust a good game is witnessed.
The visit of the Bulldogs will give all in attendance a chance to see the Riverina Football League leaders in action and will no doubt give our Swans a hard game. 12/07/23
TOP OF THE TABLE SWANS
IN the Riverina Football League, I doubt if there has been a season with so little to choose between the majority of the teams. Whether it be Griffith, Turvey Park, Coolamon Rovers, Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, Wagga Tigers, Collingullie-Glenfield Park, or even Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes, the unlucky ones to miss out will have cause to feel that the fates have been particularly severe.
The most surprising leap in the League this season is that of our own Griffith Swans. It is difficult to realise that only last year we were third from bottom and where I should think, worried about our immediate future. Where are we now? We find ourselves first on the table, and if it was possible, could easily finish even higher. From match to match the situation from top to the seventh team of the League can alter so much that it is very hard to forecast who will be the five teams to contest the final series.
The tragedy of the season is without doubt the performance of Leeton-Whitton and Narrandera Imperial.
In recent seasons they have fallen on hard times, and I am afraid they will find it a very difficult task to regain the prominent position that their clubs have held in football over a long period. So, beware clubs on western end of the League, The Grim Reaper, not the one depicted as a berobed skeleton wielding a scythe but them from the eastern end of the League are circling once again. I could say they will be trying to sever a club or two for their own well-being!
Moving on to Our Swans top of the table clash with Turvey Park last Saturday afternoon, proved a very entertaining and encouraging game. It was probably one of the best all-round displays of the boys this season, with perhaps the Mangoplah game excepted. All the players worked very hard, and the result was in balance which kept supporters on tender-hooks, until the final siren. 19/07/23
SWANS GO DOWN AT KINDRA PARK SO WHAT?
SINCE my last notes things have gone a bit haywire, and my own difficulty, quite frankly, is to decide just what line to take about what has happened. Probably you followers of the club feel much the same about it and it won't help you a great deal to say that the defeat at Kindra Park, Coolamon were as big a disappointment to me as they were to you.
We could, of course, get out of it by pointing out that, one week ago, when our Griffith Swans team was riding on crest of the wave to top spot on the Riverina League ladder, we carefully refused to be swept into any fancy forecast. But we can hardly dodge the issue that way without accepting the alternative of "letting results speak for themselves."
And if we are to take the loss of four points and defeat at face value, this result would have those shouting out aloud that "the Swans have had it." That far, however, we are not prepared to go, not yet at any rate.
Agreed, the last result take some explaining away. In fact, we have no intention of trying to find excuses that could completely explain a 23-point margin on the wrong side in one match. But before going into a post-mortem on what actually did happen in this game, let us try to appraise the situation as it stands now.
Admitted the prospects are not nearly so bright as they were, but at the moment the position is not yet hopeless, far from it. Discounting games to play which have to be won before they count as points there are only eight points now between the top six clubs. And two of these Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong and Wagga Tigers, and the win-less Narrandera Imperial have all to come to Exies Oval.
Normally a club with premiership aspirations cannot afford to lose more than three or four games in a season, but this year, with seven clubs trying to cut each other out, the margin may be wider. We have lost three games, and a draw so far. We may still have a bit to spare, but with visit to Collingullie-Glenfield Park to be faced, on current form we are pretty near the bare margin. So, it all depends, as I see it, on what happens in the next four games or so. 25/07/23
FINAL THREE SPOT STILL UP FOR GRABS
THE visit of Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong was a match in which again the Lions Team appeared to be keeping to the tradition of pulling out their best when visiting Griffith's Exies Oval. We must be frank and honest by stating herein that the form shown by our Griffith Swans side in the first half was not good enough although our defence came through a gruelling period in the first term when, Matt Hamblin, their star player, appeared troublesome to our on-ball brigade.
There was no doubt Ganmain were the better side in the first half and deserved their lead at the main interval.
No one knows better than a player or players themselves, when they are not having a good match, and as pointed out to them at half-time. This the boys put into operation to the word when they slammed on five goals in twelve minutes.
The first goal of the third term by Kahlan Spencer and four more goals followed, put us in a very optimistic mood.
At this point, we appeared we were in for a good win, but unfortunately the visitors had other ideas, steadied their ship in the final term and eventually ran out 13-point winners.
Our chance for minor premier now hangs on a spider's web but the League is still wide open, and if we can close the gap between the leaders Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong and Turvey Park, third placed Coolamon Rovers and ourselves during the next few matches, I am confident we will be challenging the leaders around finals time.
We receive our old friends from Narrandera Imperial this Saturday afternoon, and give a cordial welcome to their committee, players and supporters. Shaun Brooker who has coached the club for the past two seasons, will be remembered as the co-coach of their last RFL premiership team in 2012 and is still doing a grand job in that capacity. 02/08/23
A SEASON OF UPS AND DOWNS FOOTBALL
THE 79-point win at Exies Oval last Saturday made our Griffith Swans prospects of finishing the regular season in third place considerably brighter, aided by the result at Kindra Park, although we must frankly admit at this point that there are clubs better placed than us.
Narrandera could only be described as a team of battlers, and in consequence the game, after the opening half hour, proved to be of the ordinary type. The home supporters who stayed and watched the game had a long period of excitement concentrated in the last twenty minutes when our boys put on seven goals. To be quite frank the undermanned Eagles had been outplayed throughout the game.
An item of interest that gives some idea of the ups and downs of football fortune may be gained from a study of certain clubs in the Riverina League. Former South-West League clubs for instance, Turvey Park who once had thoughts of joining the Farrer League ten years ago; today they are now at the head of the league table. Leeton Whitton, a few years back gained the 2017 RFL premiership and were 2020 Riverina Championship's runners-up, but are now well down the course, while the once powerful Narrandera Imperial, now at the foot of the chart and in deep trouble, were RFL premiers in 2012. Griffith Swans, who escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth back in 2010, gradually climbed up the ladder to be runners-up in 2018 and 2019. After two seasons in the wilderness post COVID-19 pandemic, have topped the chart for a week in the middle part of the current season, and for an unlucky sequence of losses might still be on top.
On Saturday next, our return match at Collingullie is down for decision. The Crossroads Oval has seldom proved a lucky one for Griffith, but we must make every effort to change the luck, otherwise we could say tallyho to our double chance hopes. I think by time next Sunday result at Ganmain Sportsground comes to hand we will have some sort of indication as to real position of the final five league places will be. 09/08/23.
SWANS FINALS FINISHING POSITION UNCLEAR
YES, we were well and truly beaten at Collingullie last Saturday by a team desperate in need of points - a young side similar to ours, full of enthusiasm, quicker to the ball, and quicker in the tackle and adapted themselves to the Crossroads ground much better.
Perhaps in fairness to our boys, they tried to play football on a ground that did not suit. To play football on a ground that is a bit hard and uneven will not be used as an excuse as players must adapt themselves to the conditions of the field on which they play. Meeting the ball and first-time passing should have been the method but this was not so, and we paid the penalty. The result was very disheartening to me, but looking back on that match, I will not blame any of our players for the defeat.
Watching the Under 17.5 and Reserves sides last Saturday gave me the feeling of satisfaction that we have in our youngsters, players who will wear the Swan's colours with credit. I understand these young boys are showing great improvement and progress.
One by one, they will eventually earn a place in the senior side, and again, it will be the case of patience playing a great part in their footy journey.
This Saturday afternoon, Wagga Tigers visit us in the final league match of the home and away season, and we give a warm welcome to their players and supporters. Tigers have always put up a good show when visiting the Griffith Exies Oval, and we look forward to this match which we hope will be full entertainment for our supporters. On their visit to us last season, the match ended in a 6-point win for our Swans. A win for Griffith means we finish in third place and a qualifying final at Narrandera Sportsgound but a win for Wagga drops us back to either fourth or fifth place and into a sudden death elimination final at Robertson Oval. 16/08/23'
GREAT RESULT FOR FINALS BOUND SWANS
THERE is no doubt about it. We saw premiership form at Griffith last Saturday afternoon and from a long acquaintance with the game played here from Griffith Swans' teams in the past I have no hesitation in saying that was the best display we have even shown against Wagga Tigers on the Griffith Ex-Servicemen's Oval. It was a grand victory and only the 8th we have obtained from 39 Tiger visits to the ground - record showing 30 wins for Wagga, with a solitary draw in 2011.
Tigers are always assured of a hearty welcome when they appear on any visiting ground, and the matter in which the Griffith folk cheered the team when Murray Stephenson led them onto the field last Saturday, only served to show what popular visitors they are to our city.
The match, however, was chiefly conspicuous for the splendid display by the defences of both sides, for although there was some exciting running play up and down the field, the last line of defences generally dominated the game. Early in the game an unfortunate accident to Alec McCormick brought about a change, and Patrick Payne came back to take his place at full back on the ever-dangerous Tigers skipper.
It was a game where the Swans superb high marking and play-on football kept the Tigers under continuous pressure. The visitors responded to the challenge and stayed with the Swans until just after half time, then we kicked three goals to one to have a handy lead at the last break. And by the end of the game Griffith had pulled away from Wagga to record a 38-point victory.
Finally, in summing up, it's obvious that there are stars ready to shine on every line in the Swans team. How about the mighty Richards. This man must have the heart of a Lion and is a constant inspiration to his teammates. Charlie Cunial worked like a trojan with hand and feet, and like Payne and Dean Simpson broke up numerous attacks with some high marking. Alex Page, Bailey Morrissey and James Toscan played their prominent part in the forward line, and Henry Delves, who experienced ill luck with his goal kicking on no more than one occasion, skilfully led the line. Taine Moraschi also played his part splendidly, and his last quarter goal was worth going a long way to see.
The sad and sorry Tigers were well served by Jock Cornell, Shaun Flanigan and Dylan Morton in defence, but the forward line as a whole was ragged and lacking finishing power. It is said that all good things must come to an end, so it is Finis for the mighty Wagga Tigers in the Riverina League competition for this season, at least. 23/08/23.
THE FINAL WORD
SO, another footy season has ended and for those who follow the Griffith Swans it has ended in frustration and disappointment. Just as the prize of senior premiers seemed in our grasp it was cruelly snatched away to leave us with it all to do again next season.
However, despite the set-back, we have achieved a great deal and, backed by our excellent home support, we have turned on a brand of football at the Exies Oval well worthy of a higher status.
One of the reasons for success in 2023, (as regards their final league placing), a total of 29 players were used in the first team, the joint lowest total over this year eight-year period. This relatively small figure showing there to have been a more settled team in 2023 than in all but one of the last eight years, is backed up by the facts that only four players left the club at the end of the 2022 season.
These numbers are the lowest recorded over the last few years; in the seven seasons preceding last season, while on average, 8 new players were "blooded" during the season's programme.
All these figures point to the fact that Griffith's team during 2023 comprised more players of at least one year's experience with any other of the last eight years. These facts and figures give an insight into club president Paul Rogerson, coach Greg Dreyer and policy of team building, which obviously contributed to Griffith's relative success in 2023.
However, no pipedreams; only hard work will achieve success and we have to have the right people in the right places to see the necessary steps are taken. Well, that's about all for this season, except to say, "Enjoy the summer break", and whether you are staying or leaving "Good luck for next season". Up the Swans! 01/11/23