Fed up with sniping from Victorian rivals about Sydney’s talent-laden list and recruiting coups, Swans chairman Andrew Pridham has named it a “targeted attack” that he refuses to tolerate.
In a interview with Fairfax following his recent public stoush with Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, Pridham said the sentiment from numerous opposition camps reeked of sour grapes against the competition leaders.
“It’s a very targeted attack,” he said. “And it’s because we’re performing well currently. It’s for no other reason.
“It’s following a litany, I think, of unchecked commentary that does upset us. It has been the Victorian clubs attacking us … inferring we’re cheats.
“And the damage that does to the integrity, not just to the Swans but to the competition, is significant.
“If people are going to attack us publicly, I have no choice, I have a responsibility to the club to speak my mind and to defend us,” Pridham said.
After recruiting Lance Franklin in the off-season, top-placed Sydney would make history on Saturday night by beating last year’s premier, Hawthorn.
The Swans are on a 12-match winning streak and victory at the MCG would set a club record for consecutive games won.
The backdrop according to the Swans, however, is a disgruntled - and increasingly vocal - collection of opponent clubs.
While it was McGuire who spoke of what he termed the Swans’ “chequebook recruiting” last week, Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold has also questioned the fairness of drafting rules for players developed through the special academies in NSW and Queensland.
In May, Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon incensed the Swans hierarchy when he stated that the club had “exploited” the cost-of-living allowance that has now been abolished.
“Should anyone be surprised that we’d get upset?” Pridham, who replaced veteran Richard Colless as Swans chairman five months ago, asked this week.
“I think I would be derelict in my duty if I just sat back and let it happen. And I can’t. Richard Colless didn’t, and I won’t.
“We’ve got a lot of supporters, and they get frustrated, particularly when people are putting us down and calling us cheats and all those sorts of things.
“It’s important to them that someone stands up for them; that can have a voice. And if that has to be me, it has to be me.
“I haven’t attacked anybody who hasn’t come at us.”
Pridham, who will be a guest of Newbold’s at Hawthorn’s president’s function on Saturday night, said he has no intentions of being a particularly outspoken chairman.
He said the AFL could help defuse the building tension between clubs on equalisation-related matters by clarifying its position on certain issues.
“I would be happy for the remainder of my chairmanship - however long that may be - never to have a stoush with anybody,” Pridham said.
“If no one has a go at us, I won’t have a stoush with anyone, I can guarantee you.”
Samantha Lane joined The Age in 2005 and has specialised in the coverage of Australian Rules football, cycling, Olympic sports and drugs in sport. A Quill award winner and part of the Fairfax team that won a Walkley award in 2014 for its coverage of the AFL’s doping scandal, Sam has rich multimedia experience. She is part of the Seven network’s Saturday night AFL television coverage and was previously a panellist on network Ten's Before the Game. Sam was The Age’s Olympics reporter for the 2012 London Olympics, and covered the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games for Fairfax. Her work has won awards from the Australian Sports Commission, the Victorian Institute of Sport, the AFL Players Association and the AFL Coaches Association.
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