After what was an unthinkable start for the 2016 runners-up, something ticked for John Longmire’s men.
In a remarkable turnaround, the Swans immediately blasted into form and won the next 15 of 17 matches to finish at sixth on the ladder at the end of August.
If they went on to win the flag, it would have been the first time in history a side beginning the year 0-6 won the premiership.
But even that’s not worth an applause according to veteran footy journalist Mark Robinson.
The Swans bowed out of the season on Friday night with their lowest score in a finals match in over a century. The red and white pack looked a shadow of their late-season selves as they allowed Geelong to take a commanding 15.8 (98) — 5.9 (39) victory at the MCG.
As incredible as their miraculous effort to make the semi-finals from last place was, Robinson says it won’t earn a place in the history books.
“They came back from 0-6 and they had elimination finals every week, what do you want us to do? Clap?” he said on SEN’s Afternoons.
“Well done, but what does it mean? You’re out in the semi-final weekend. In 20-years time no-one will remember them for winning 15 of 17 games, but for getting beaten in a semi-final.
“At the level that they are playing, like the top end level, it has got to be about premierships.”
Robinson said the Swans have been good enough to take premierships over the last five years but have simply underperformed in big matches.
“They have been around the mark for five to six years, you can’t give them credit for getting in the finals. They do that all the time!
“It was a bit harder this year, but they don’t get a slap on the back when they lose in a semi-final and say well done. At that end it’s flags. At least (make) preliminary finals, at least!”
Robinson wasn’t the only one tearing into the Swans on Monday afternoon.
AFL great Dermott Brereton questioned Lance Franklin’s lack of premierships for the club after joining the side in late 2013 on a blockbuster $10 million contract.
“Given what they have paid for the players they have attracted there — they got close, but you would probably say (this season was) a failure,” he said on SEN’s The Run Home.
“I mean Lance’s contract of $10 million, I would think they would have expected to win a premiership or two in that era. He’s been fantastic and they haven’t landed one with him yet. It’s starting to mount up a little bit on them.”
Franklin’s goalkicking during the regular season was at its dominant best, highlighted by a mammoth 10-goal effort against Carlton late in the year which sealed his fourth Coleman Medal.
But a surprising stat has exposed Franklin’s weakness in big games for the Swans. In Sydney’s last three exits from the AFL season, Franklin has scored just one goal (which came against the Western Bulldogs last year).
For Swans fans, all they can do now is cling to the age-old chant: “Next year will be our year”.