Dane Swan – The unexpected superstar

“With pick 58 the Collingwood Football Club select, Dane Swan from Calder Cannons.”

The year was 2001, Swan was still celebrating schoolies on the Gold Coast and Collingwood had just unknowingly discovered a diamond in the rough.

Swan quickly acquainted himself with the media and newspapers, although unfortunately for Collingwood he often found himself on the front page, rather than the back.

After refusing to leave schoolies to visit his new club, Swan floated through his first few years according to his father, Billy Swan.

Had it not been for his father’s memorable 300 game career with Port Melbourne, Swan may have never earned his place on an AFL list.

Yet the young larrikin almost threw his short career away on one eventful evening in December 2003.

With his cousin, Aaron Ramsey and Kade Carey, Swan was caught in an altercation with a local cleaner in Federation Square.

Mick Malthouse and the club decided to give Swan one last chance, a chance that Swan has turned into a phenomenal career.

Swan himself acknowledges that it was after the 2003 brawl that the “penny dropped” and he decided “playing AFL was something he wanted to do”.

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By 2006 Swan had cemented his place in Collingwood’s best 22, as the late bloomer finished sixth in the Copeland trophy.

With his trademark waddle and laid-back charisma, Swan quite literally stumbled into the spotlight.

As interchange rotations reached an all-time high, Swan’s burst style of play was proving unstoppable.

The “untaggable” machine went from strength to strength and won his first Copeland Trophy in 2008, an award that he would hold for three consecutive years.

The 2010 and 2011 seasons proved a golden period for the Magpies and Swan, who added a Premiership and Brownlow medal to his bulging trophy cabinet.

Despite the nonchalant façade, Swan has unashamedly proclaimed it’s the 2010 premiership he is proudest of.

As for the Brownlow, well its “stuffed away in the cupboard” with his numerous All-Australian trophies.

After a self-confessed “putrid” 2014 season, Swan responded the following year in stunning fashion. He silenced the critics, averaging 29 disposals and finishing runner-up in the 2015 Copeland trophy.

Tragically, his 2016 season and career was ended in a matter of seconds in the opening round.

As the tattooed champion lay helpless on the SCG turf, football lost a superstar and personality the league will likely never see again.

Swan has always done things his way, never content to simply tow the party line. While it has landed him in hot water over the years, it’s also the very fabric of the legacy he leaves behind.

With his trademark humour, unforgettable waddle, endless tattoos and most importantly, his serious case of leather poisoning, Swan has undeniably left his mark on the football world.

And for that, every Collingwood fan, and football fan for that matter, is forever grateful.

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