Dane Swan – AFL Collingwood Player
‘The redemption man’ who almost ended up having to quit AFL in 2003 is now regarded as the one of the best midfielders to have played the game.
Born February 25th 1984, Swan grew up in Westmeadows, part of Melbourne’s north-west suburbs. Close to being written off after a poor start to his career where he was unable to hold his place in the starting line-up for the first three years, he turned his career on its head and would go on to be regarded as the one of the great midfielders of the current era.
Dane Swan comes from a line of tough Scottish immigrants who came to Australia in the 1940’s and settled in Port Melbourne. Dave reckons he too would have followed in his family’s traditions working on the wharves had it not been for AFL.
Dave’s father Billy played 302 games for Port Melbourne and Williamstown, between 1976 to 1993. Dave Swan played junior football for Westmeadows football club before going on to attend college at St. Bernard’s College in Essendon.
He played under 18 football with the Calder cannons in the TAC Cup. He had initial difficulties with the Calder’s as his off field behaviour caused him to miss some matches, however he finished the season strongly as he began to realize his capacity to outrun his opponents.
He entered the national draft reluctantly in 2001 and was drafted to Collingwood as pick number 58.
Up until 2006 his career failed to take off. He could only manage 30 games in his first four seasons at Collingwood. His approach was considered as laidback and even though he played a consistently solid brand of football when given the chance, he never broke out as a player to watch out for.
A lot of the credit for his turn around is given to Coach Mick Malthouse and team mates Ben Johnson and Chris Tarrant They encouraged him to put in the hard yards at training and Dane Swan responded to that call. He upped the intensity and started the 2006 season in explosive style.
He had 34 disposals and a Brownlow vote in round one. He scored a career high for the time 19 goals and had possessions of 24, 25, 26 and 29 between round six and nine. This would be the season where he would repay the faith that Collingwood had showed in him and really stand out as a midfielder to be reckoned with.
2007 would be the first year that Dane Swan would play all the games of the season. Additional responsibility was put on him due to the absence of Nathan Buckley and Paul Licuria which seemed to relish.
He would go on to win his first of three consecutive Copeland trophies in 2008. He averaged 25 disposals, three tackles and one goal a game across the season. He continued to improve as he gathered 769 possessions across 25 games and even coming close to being the first player since 1991 to manage 50 in one game alone. He had 48 against Port Adelaide beating Nathan Buckley’s record of 46 in 2001.
His latter half of the season was compromised because of a thigh injury however he managed to play through the pain making useful contributions.
2010 would go on to be regarded as the year of Dane Swan. He followed up four seasons of increasingly improving performances with a season that would ensure his place in the history books. He average 31.8 dismissals, 19 kicks per game. He played all 26 matches, kicked 26 goals and had 30 or more disposals on 17 occasions. He won a lot of awards this season but finished runner up to Chris Judd for the Brownlow medal.
Dane Swan started off 2011 strongly however he would suffer a setback due to a quad injury suffered mid-year. He managed to win his team a few tense encounters almost entirely off his own steam and hi year was crowned with a Brownlow medal at the beginning of the Grand Finals week. He won the medal by 34 votes, which is the most since the 3-2-1 system was put in place.
2012 started off with some controversy about his weight however Dane Swan fought off the criticism to put is some blinding performances. He managed 49 disposals against Hawthorne, a career best for him, and even though he was suspended for a couple of games for breaking a team pledge abstaining from alcohol, he finished fourth in the tally for the Brownlow medal. He was also selected to the All-Australian team for the fourth time in his career.
The 2013 season saw the now almost familiar sight of Dane Swan taking control of the ball and outrunning opposition with it. His stats continued to be top notch with an average of more than 30 possessions per game for the fifth year running.
Honours and Achievements
He won the Brownlow Medal in 2011, the Joseph Wren Memorial Trophy (VFL Best and Fairest) in 2003. Dane Swan saw the Copeland Trophy being presented to him for three years running in 2008, 2009, 2010.
The Leigh Matthews Trophy (AFLPA MVP Award) was awarded to him in 2010 after he narrowly missed out on it the previous year.
He made the All-Australian team for five consecutive years in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.
A number of other achievements and honours found their way to Dane Swan such as the Herald Sun Player of the Year Award in 2009, 2010, the Australian Football Media Association Player of the Year Award in 2009, 2010, the Bob Rose-Charlie Sutton Medal in 2009, the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year in 2010, the Lou Richards Medal in 2010, the Australian Representative Honours in International Rules Football in 2010, the Jim Stynes Medal in 2010 and the AFL ANZAC Medal in 2012, 2014.
Swan found himself in the middle of controversy that threatened to derail his career in 2003 when he and his mates got into a brawl with a security guard at Federation square. The guard was knocked unconscious during the brawl and Swan ended up being charged with thirteen offences. Swan was eventually found guilty of affray and ordered 100 hours of community service. The victim sued the three involved, later settling for a $10,000 settlement.