Season By Season
“It was horrendous. I had one good game on ANZAC Day and that was about it.”
Few players in the history of Australian football could utter that sentence to the national media after averaging 24.94 disposals across 17 games.
But such are the high standards that Swan has set for himself since breaking into the competition’s elite almost a decade ago that any drop off in form, albeit minor, is going to attract plenty of attention.
Battered and bruised by foot and hip injuries, Swan was unable to exert his usual influence on the competition.
He still had his bright moments, none more notable than his virtuoso performance against Essendon on ANZAC Day.
Swan sealed his second ANZAC Day Medal in three years with a four-goal, 26-disposal effort that turned the biggest home and away game of the season on its head.
He also polled two Brownlow Medal votes for his 35 disposals and five tackles the week prior, but from there on did not figure in the umpires’ votes, polling five votes for the year – his lowest tally since he first earned votes in 2006.
By the time the season reached its seventeenth round, Swan was clearly labouring and was afforded a three-week rest to nurse his injured foot.
He marked his return with 28 disposals and a goal in the heavy loss to Brisbane in round 21 before a hamstring injury brought down the curtain on his year during the second quarter of the penultimate game against Greater Western Sydney seven days later.
Season By Season
Another football season, another sustained display of excellence from Dane Swan. Such is his brilliance that 30 possession performances by Collingwood’s No. 36 are becoming routine. But don’t let the familiarity of the tattooed arms taking control of the footy lull you into thinking Swan’s performances are normal. He averaged more than 30 possessions a game for the fifth year in a row and cleared 114 stoppages for the season. He worked his way into top form, winning 35 possessions and kicking a goal in his 200th senior game against Richmond in round four, one week after he had collected 33 touches and five tackles in a 55-point loss to the Hawks. Swan’s season kicked up another cog when he had 36 possessions against the Lions in round 10, sparking a three week patch in which he received the maximum nine Brownlow votes. A quiet performance against Port Adelaide after the bye followed, but from there on in he didn’t let up, starting with a season-high 41 possessions and eight tackles against Carlton in round 15. He received best afield honours against Greater Western Sydney in round 18 and carried his form into September when he kicked three goals from six scoring shots while being used as an undersized full forward against Port Adelaide in the Elimination Final.
Season By Season
The prolific ball-winner had another consistent year despite missing two games mid-season with a hamstring injury and then another two in rounds 20 and 21 after a club-imposed suspension. Won the ANZAC Day Medal in round five for his 42 possessions, six tackles and three goals, and entered into another purple patch upon return from the hamstring injury in round 11 against Melbourne. Despite missing four games, he ended the season third in the competition for disposals. He had more than 40 possessions on six occasions including a career-high 49 against Hawthorn in round 17.
Season by Season
Showed no signs of a premiership hangover in the early rounds, playing in the NAB Cup premiership win and starting the year with 34 disposals and three goals against Port Adelaide and 40 disposals against North Melbourne. By time he had kicked four goals and won 33 possessions to destroy Richmond in round four, many were questioning whether he could ever be stopped.
Although he kept his disposal count in the high 20s and earned three Brownlow votes in the round eight loss to Geelong, Swan’s impact was blunted ever so slightly by a quad injury mid-year. In a radical move, he joined Darren Jolly, Brent Macaffer and Nathan Brown on a two week trip to Arizona to help fast track his recovery. It proved an inspired decision.
Missing only one match (his first since 2006), Swan went on a 10 week rampage in which he won between 31 and 45 disposals in each match and kicked 14 goals. He received 21 of his 34 Brownlow votes in this period, including four best on grounds.
His most commanding performances came against North Melbourne in round 16 (39 disposals and two goals in wet conditions), Essendon in round 19 (45 disposals and a goal) and Port Adelaide in round 20 (37 disposals, three goals and six tackles in torrential rain).
His form carried over to the finals, when he won 43 possessions in the qualifying final win over the Eagles. Willed his side over the line in the tense final term against Hawthorn in the preliminary final with a vital goal at a stoppage and a game-high 18 contested possessions.
Was crowned the Brownlow Medalist on the Monday of Grand Final week. His 34 votes across 21 games is the most ever in one season by a player under the 3-2-1 system at an average of 1.62 votes per game. He polled in 14 matches, the equal highest by any player (along with Robert Harvey in 1998) in the history of the game. In 159 eligible games, Swan averages 0.71 votes per game, the 16th highest average of any player to have played 50 or more games.
Started the Grand Final well but was below his usual impact, and managed only 20 possessions and one mark as the Magpies went down to Geelong. Finished runner-up to Scott Pendlebury in the Copeland Trophy, and was again an All-Australian.
2010 was the year of Dane Swan. There is no other way to describe it.
After four years of consistent excellence, Swan was finally recognised by the wider football public as one of the genuine superstars of the competition. He had 820 possessions. Played all 26 matches. Kicked 24 goals. Won 30 or more disposals on 17 occasions (including 10 games in succession between round 11 and round 20).
Received the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the Player’s Association’s MVP. Was the AFL Coaches Association’s Champion Player of the Year. Won Channel 9’s Lou Richards Medal. Represented Australia in the International Rules series and won the Jim Stynes Medal as his nation’s best player. Took out his third Copeland Trophy and his second All-Australian award, and the Bob Rose Award as the Best Player in Finals. Most importantly, Swan became a Collingwood premiership player.
He had been one of the shortest priced favourites in history heading into the Brownlow Medal count but was surprisingly trumped by Chris Judd (he finished third overall with 24 votes).
Started the season with a bang, winning 31 disposals and kicking three goals against the Bulldogs. Roasted the Bulldogs, Demons, Swans, Eagles, Power, Saints and Tigers in his mid-season hot streak and kicked a goal in 17 matches. Also laid 123 tackles and polled votes in 12 matches.
His start to the finals series was immense, as he torched the Western Bulldogs for the third time this season in the qualifying final on his way to 39 disposals and three goals. Backed it up a fortnight later in the preliminary final in winning 33 possessions and slotting two majors, confirming his status as the most valuable player in the game.
Had a slightly subdued Grand Final when St Kilda’s Farren Ray had his measure in the second half. He had 21 disposals but still contributed seven tackles. Given a week to recover, Swan hit back hard in the Grand Final replay, winning 26 possessions, one goal and 11 tackles to cap off a magical season and rise to fame.
Caught the eye early in the season with his new sleeve tattoo that quickly became his trademark. His yearly improvement continued with an outstanding season that culminated in his first All-Australian selection.
Swan gathered 769 possessions across 25 games, with a low of 17 in the preliminary final and a high of 48 against Port Adelaide in round 10 at the MCG. In the latter, the crowd began to cheer his last few possessions of the evening as he nudged towards the 50 possession mark. He stood to become the first Collingwood player since Tony Shaw in 1991 to reach the magical figure, and surpassed Nathan Buckley’s high of 46 in 2001.
Polled another 12 Brownlow Medal votes, and was best on ground in the round 17 win over Carlton. Was hampered by a thigh injury late in the season but played despite the duress and managed 28 crucial touches in the semi final win over Adelaide. Received his second Copeland Trophy at season’s end.
Sealed his reputation as one of the best players in the competition with the first of three successive Copeland Trophies. Played all 24 games, had less than 20 disposals in only four of them, and polled Brownlow votes in six matches.
Had best on ground performances against West Coast in round 10 (36 disposals, two goals) and Sydney in round 14 (30 disposals). Again stepped up his contribution in front of goal, kicking 22.23 for the year and kicking multiples in six matches. Was vital to Collingwood’s come from behind win over Adelaide in the elimination final, kicking two vital goals on the eve of half time to steer the Magpies back into the contest.
Rewarded with his first Copeland Trophy, but still escaped the gaze of the All-Australian selectors.
Backed up his breakout season with even more improvement in 2007. Didn’t miss a game for the first time in his career, finished fourth in the Copeland Trophy and had 30 or more disposals in five matches. Appeared to relish the extra midfield time he was afforded in the absence of Nathan Buckley and Paul Licuria and was a symbol of the generational change that was taking place at the club.
Had an incredibly consistent season yet managed to escape the media spotlight until Brownlow Medal night when he was among the leaders at the halfway mark only to be enjoying his night at home with teammates Guy Richards and Alan Didak, complete in Spiderman costume.
Also lifted his work rate off the ball, laying 85 tackles (up on 44 from the previous season). Was one of the best afield against Richmond, Adelaide, Carlton, Fremantle and St Kilda, and received three Brownlow votes in the loss to Hawthorn in round 13.
Had a great finals campaign, winning 38 disposals and kicking two goals (including the sealer on the final siren) in the extra-time win over West Coast in the semi final. Backed it up with 25 touches in the preliminary final against the Cats.
Encouraged by senior players and great mates Ben Johnson and Chris Tarrant, Swan bit the bullet during the pre-season and began to train at a greater intensity. His work ethic began to reap dividends as he made an explosive start to 2006. Kicked off the year with 34 disposals and a Brownlow vote in the loss to Adelaide in round one, and only dipped below 20 disposals on five occasions for the season (once when he was injured).
Made a huge impact on the scoreboard, kicking a then career-high 19 goals with a top of four against Geelong in round eight (26 disposals, three Brownlow votes). His mid-season form was outstanding, notching 24, 25, 26 and 29 possessions between rounds six and nine. Injured a hamstring in round 10 and missed the next fortnight but was a consistent force throughout the rest of the year.
Was subdued in the elimination final loss to the Bulldogs, but ended the year with 11 Brownlow votes and recorded a sixth placed finish in the Copeland Trophy.
Missed much of the early going with an ankle injury, and returned slowly via the VFL. Returned to the senior side for round eight against Richmond and only missed one more match (dropped in round 17). Accumulated possessions effectively at half back, but also had his share of midfield time. Showed his capabilities with a 29 disposal effort against Sydney in round 13.
Was consistent, but by season’s end had reached the point where he needed to stamp his authority on the competition or otherwise face an uncertain future.
Played in the pre-season competition against West Coast and was named as an emergency for the first fortnight. Was recalled for the trip to Brisbane in round three and acquitted himself superbly, kicking two goals from the forward pocket and winning 16 possessions.
He played every match until round 11, registering two disposal counts that topped 20 against Port Adelaide and Carlton. Began to struggle and only played four more times for the remainder of the year.
Was recalled after a five week absence in round 22 and had 22 possessions in the loss to Carlton. Played a total of 13 games, mainly at half back with occasional runs through the midfield.
Had a run in a handful of pre-season matches but was forced to wait until round 13 before he could make his senior debut against the Western Bulldogs at Docklands (eight disposals). He played twice more, against Richmond in round 16 and against Essendon in round 22, but missed the boat on finals selection.
Had a productive season for Williamstown, kicking five in a best on ground display against Werribee in round four. Finished seventh in Williamstown’s Best and Fairest and played in a forward pocket in their first VFA/VFL premiership since 1990 – the year his father had won the flag for the Gulls off his own boot.
Traveled to London where he played in the exhibition match against Fremantle at The Oval. Was involved in an altercation at Federation Square late in the year that would see his career at Collingwood sail very close to the wind.
Spent the season with Williamstown in the VFL, the club whom his father Billy Swan had made his name for in the VFA. Played the first two games in the reserves, and debuted for Williamstown’s seniors in round three against Essendon and made an immediate impression kicking 3.1 and gathering 17 possessions. Played every match for the Seagulls bar three mid-season when he suffered a broken hand.
Played for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup U18 competition. Struggled to find a regular spot in the team in the first half of the season due to a lack of discipline on and off the field, according to his coach Robert Hyde. Ended the year well for the Cannons as he began to realise his capacity to outrun opponents.
Was one of Calder’s best in their TAC Cup premiership victory when he played on Bendigo playmaker (and future St Kilda star) Nick Dal Santo on the wing. Became a TAC Cup premiership player alongside the likes of James Kelly, Andrew Welsh, David Rodan and Brent Reilly.
Had been reluctant to nominate for the National Draft as he was still a bottom-age U18 player, and was partaking in schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast when he was drafted to Collingwood with pick No. 58.