A couple of years ago, in a chance meeting at the MCG, I became hooked up with some of the people who are involved with The Swans Blog, particularly Justin Mitchell and Steven Park.
Steve is some teacher guy from Tasmania I’ve come to really admire for his consummate knowledge of not just Sydney, but the other teams in the AFL, while Justin is the boss, The Don, The Grand Poohbah that makes the blog work.
He has a ridiculously detailed recollection of Swans history in terms of both personnel and individual games. In fact, the blog is his brain child, starting as his personal creative outlet as a simple online blog that has morphed into a two-episode-a-week podcast during the football season, about all things Sydney Swans and the AFL.
I’m not sure if I was just giddy with alcohol, or the fact we had just watched some new kid named Ben Ronke demolish Hawthorn in a seven-goal effort, but we struck up a good conversation, moved into a nearby pub, after which I stumbled to my motel several hours later and fell into a deep sleep. A few days later he contacted me to go on the post-game podcast, and I’ve been doing bit pieces for it ever since.
Being folded into the world of podcasting has been a real thrill for me, least of all that I have made some exceptional new friends through being involved in it. My infrequent trips to Melbourne to watch the Swans play, have been amplified in excitement and camaraderie, while the losses are far more easy to bear.
I’ve seen the time and effort that has gone into producing the blog and the cast, as well as the money required for equipment, the subscriptions for the recording software that enables us to connect (our contributors are from WA, NSW, TAS and VIC). There is no studio. The cost of hosting the data for the recording online, and just finding the time to co-ordinate several people, so we can get two people online to record two days a week, is breathtaking in its complexity. It’s a real work of love. A grass roots effort. But it's bloody tough work.
So, imagine the bewilderment the contributor’s people feel when we receive private messages over social media, with words to the effect of:
“The Swans Blog, assuming you write about a team that you love, you need to be more positive. I’m questioning your loyalty.”
It’s usually followed by some gnashing of teeth, a virtual face-palm, and sometimes I wish I could have a 'scrubs moment', where my life turns into a virtual cut scene and I live out the fantasy of throwing my computer screen out the window, before snapping back to reality.
The guys over at 'True Bloods' bust their guts just as hard to make their podcast come together. Before getting tied up with The Swans Blog, I had several discussions with people about the treatment of the True Bloods contributors, and their supposed lack of credentials as supporters.
No one would question anyone’s loyalty if they had seen the amount of work that goes into developing content.
Fortunately, the Swans do not exist in a bubble. While it would be easy enough to produce content that has an overly positive spin at the expense of everything else, we think that would be disingenuous. It would isolate any discussion we have from the rest of the competition, and It would not work in terms of longevity for the podcast.
The Swans do not exist in a vacuum either, they exist in a national a competition, and that means the Swans will be compared on a weekly basis. If we excluded discussing those things, we would be excluding the very talking points that make football interesting. As nice as it would be to have 'cheer cheer, the red and the white' on a 30-minute loop, two times a week, it would hardly produce a podcast with variety.
So yes, we are fans, big ones. You wouldn’t put this much time, money or emotional effort into an endeavour, unless you really like what you were doing. We ride all the bumps, the highs, and the lows.
We follow the same team, we just look at them through a different lens.
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