Well the arm chair critic is back and to quote my favourite wrestler of all time, let me tell you why.
I have been on a bit of a hiatus over the past few weeks due to work commitments and I apologise about that. However, I noticed from my last post that I ruffled a few feathers about my comments on 'why the Swans were failing'; however, I do not apologise for that.
What I will say is that we have had a remarkable change in fortunes (thank God) and I think I have worked out why it is. Now remember this is entirely my own opinion and each of your arm chair critics out there are able to agree of disagree as much as you like.
So what has been the change? Has it been the established stars finally finding some form? Has it been the young guns going to another level? Has it been a change in coaching style? In my opinion it is none of these but at the same time it is all of them.
Lets start by looking at our established stars:
Kennedy has been outstanding all season and there is no doubt about it he is the CONTESTED KING. Just look at the way he was able to single-handedly change the fortunes of both the Richmond and Essendon games.
It was his grit and determination that lifted all those around him in the last quarter of the richmond game, and as my friend (who is a Essendon supporter) said if it wasn't for his in and under work in the last 5-8 minutes the Swans would never have been in the situation to win the game.
Of course he wasn't the one who received the accolades for the win over Essendon but when is the scriptwriter ever acknowledged as the brains in a blockbuster movie? Those people are the trucks that carry the sprint cars to the line ready for their showing.
Hanners has now come into his own and is looking like the silky smooth player that he has been over the past few years. Admittingly his kicking still needs a bit of work but the way he handles the ball by hand and the amount of presence has has on the field is astonishing. He is the silk to Kennedy's grunt!
For the rest of the established stars. Grundy is back to his best and is definitely the general in the backline. He plays so much better when he doesn't have to play on a man. Parker isn't at his peak powers but still chips in each week with some damaging work. Nick Smith (the forgotten man) is now playing like he should be - consistently negating their best small forward and winning lots of the ball himself. I could go one about the stars but I won't...
Now onto the young guys...
Isn't it amazing that since Heeney has returned we have seen an amazing lift in the side. He is one of the spiritual leaders.
We know how good he can be and have come to expect it from him. Mills hasn't been as good as he was last year off the backline... Or has he? His intercept marking has been terrific, his reading of the play has been exceptional and I wonder if he isn't being judged (by the media that is) because he had such an outstanding first year.
You also have Hayward, Florent, Hewett, Melican and Marsh; each one of these new players continue to perform for the team and play their role. In my opinion that's all we can ask for from them.
Where are Newman and Papley you ask??? Well that's a good question, why didn't I include them in the list of the young guys? Here is the reason... Those two players and one other are the reason our fortunes have changed...
I will start with Newman. I have seen this bloke play in the reserves and thought he had something about him that would really go a long way if he chose to put the effort in.
Since his senior debut he has just gotten better and better. It isn't how many possessions he gets, it isn't the defense he plays. It is his hard work and determination to succeed in everything he does.
If you look at his history and where he came from. He is the type of player that the Swans are built around. The hardworking player who just strives to do their best. His never give up attitude is something i am amazed with and I hope his form continues to deliver for the club and its fans.
My second and definitely most important reason we have turned around this year is Tom Papley. Papper's as I affectionately refer to him every time I see him near the ball is the whole reason we have had a massive turn around. Before you go "what a load of rubbish" let me finish.
Papley is a cross between Jude Bolton and Brett Kirk. He isn't an extremely gifted player but his hard work and determination is outstanding. Rarely does he get beat and rarely is he out of the action. His defensive pressure is outstanding and for a person who is almost as short as me, he is a man mountain for our team and is equally as important as our superstars like Buddy, Kennedy and Hannebery.
He doesn't have the flashes of brilliance like Buddy and Eddie Betts but his pressure and will to win can not be matched. It wasn't Gary Rohan's goal that saved us in the Essendon game, it was Papley's awareness to smother the ball, it was his physicality, tackling pressure and ability to read the drop of the ball on the forward and back line during a tumultuous game against richmond that kept us in it, especially in the second half.
Tom Papley from every Swans fan (and particularly myself) thank you for being the next Bolton/Kirk... Hell what am I saying, thank you for being the only Tom Papley!
Now onto my third and final reason we have improved over the past 6 or 7 weeks and people are definitely going to bag me out for this one. The reason we have improved is because of Callum Sinclair.................
Now come on hear me out. Callum at times struggle to take a mark and I acknowledge that, he doesn't win the ruck contest every time and I also acknowledge that.
Nevertheless, I still believe Callum Sinclair has been one of the main reasons that the Swans have actually improved over the past 6 or 7 weeks and here is the reason... It is because he never gives up. He always comes up against ruckman who (in the media's opinion) are a lot better than him and he gives 100%.
He is consistent and his around the ground work, while not outstanding, is extremely good. He tries hard, his pressure is strong and the best thing about him is that, one again, he will never give up.
I have been one of those people who have bagged him but I sat back and watched his last two games (analysed them after the fact obviously) and watched how he attacked the ball and most importantly how he actually attacked the opposition player when they had the ball. That makes him an important element in my books.
I know people may not agree with this but when you look at it, ask yourself how lucky are we to have these players? Just think, all three of them came from the rookie list (2012 - Sinclair, 2015 - Newman and 2016 - Papley) and all 3 of them have made significant contributions to our club.
So from my perspective we are extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to see these player in action. We are also extremely lucky to have been able to support them. So on behalf of all fans I would like to say a big thank you to Callum Sinclair, Nic Newman and most importantly Tom Papley for being players that give 100% every time you take the field. You are true role models for our brilliant club.
"so let me tell you brother" You all may not be the first selected every week but if every play had the heart and determination that you all have we would hardly ever lose a game.
This is the armchair critic signing off.
If you'd like to support us, you can head over to our Red Bubble Swans Blog Shop, and purchase one of our hideously overpriced mugs, stickers or notebooks. Help keep The Swans Blog alive.
Want instant access to the latest blog and news content from The Swans Blog?
Download our Android App from Google Play today.