Opera House swans
Sydney Swans pose in front of the Opera House in 1982

Throughout history South Melbourne and the Sydney Swans have been forced to overcome significant adversity.

1960 - 1984

Diminishing attendance and membership nearly led to financial ruin in the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite the efforts of several administrations, change proved to be a necessity. Club stalwarts Graeme John, Jack Marks and VFL President Alan Aylett cast their eyes further than the confines of Victoria, landing on the picturesque Harbour City.

In 1981, the Swans received permission from the VFL to play 11 home matches in Sydney the following season.

Barry Round v Bill Duckworth 28th August 1984
Barry Round plays opponent Bill Duckworth on August 28, 1984.
1984 - 1989

Despite early success on the field, financial security nor sustainable structure would arrive for several years. The Sydney Swans entered privatisation in 1985 when Dr. Geoffrey Edelsten purchased the club. Edelsten was chairman for less than 12 months before he stepped down, making way for a group of investors led by John Gerahty, Mike Willesee and Basil Sellers.

1986 recruits including Gerard Healy David Bolton Bernard Toohey Greg Williams coach Tom Hafey and Dr Geoffrey Edelsten behind old SCG Noble Stand
1986 recruits including Gerard Healy, David Bolton, Bernard Toohey, Greg Williams, coach Tom Hafey and Dr. Geoffrey Edelsten behind the old SCG Noble Stand.
1990 - 1995

Adversity continued to plague the club throughout the 1990s with investors calling for a restructure. At the 11th hour – on October 21, 1992 – clubs voted that the AFL should waive the Swans’ outstanding license fee (almost $2 million), provide working capital to Sydney for three years, and award priority draft choices.

AFL intervention was launched early in the following season when the team’s losing streak extended to 18 successive defeats. The AFL Commission resolved that the Swans would revert to a traditional member-based system rather than continuing with private ownership, that AFL Executive Commissioner Alan Schwab would be appointed Executive Chairman of the club, and that Ron Barassi would be appointed coach until the end of 1995.

Save our Swans rally and fundraiser Darling Harbour 1st November 1992 15 copy
Save our Swans Rally and Fundraiser, Darling Harbour, November 1, 1992
1996 - 2005

On June 27, 1993, in Barassi’s seventh match as coach, Sydney broke its 26-game losing streak with a 40-point victory over Melbourne. By the end of the 1995 season, Sydney finished 12th on the ladder, coinciding with the exciting recruitment of Paul Roos and Tony Lockett.

Financial stability arrived under the administration of Chairman Richard Colless, who would go on to become the AFL’s longest-serving chairman.

Following the retirement of Barassi, four-time Hawthorn Premiership player Rodney Eade was appointed coach and took the Swans to their first Grand Final since 1945. A new era of success and club sustainability began, and in 2005 the Sydney Swans claimed their first premiership in 72 years.

Banner 2005 Grand Final
2005 Grand Final Banner

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