|AFL||03/19 06:10||1||Greater Western Sydney vs Sydney||View|
|AFL||03/25 08:50||2||Sydney vs Geelong||View|
|AFL||03/31 08:20||3||Western Bulldogs vs Sydney||View|
|AFL||04/09 03:45||4||Sydney vs North Melbourne||View|
|AFL||04/15 09:40||5||West Coast vs Sydney||View|
|AFL||04/25 02:30||6||Hawthorn vs Sydney||View|
|AFL||08/28 05:20||14|| Sydney v Greater Western Sydney ||73-74|
|AFL||08/21 03:45||23|| Sydney v Gold Coast ||136-49|
|AFL||08/14 09:40||22|| North Melbourne v Sydney ||77-91|
|AFL||08/07 09:40||21|| St Kilda v Sydney ||93-64|
|AFL||08/01 05:10||20||Essendon v Sydney||View|
|AFL||08/01 05:10||20|| Essendon v Sydney ||102-109|
|AFL||07/25 02:30||19|| Sydney v Fremantle ||98-58|
|AFL||07/18 08:10||18|| Greater Western Sydney v Sydney ||72-98|
|AFL||07/11 05:20||17|| Western Bulldogs v Sydney ||60-79|
|AFL||07/04 03:10||16|| Sydney v West Coast ||118-26|
|AFL||06/26 06:35||15|| Port Adelaide v Sydney ||81-71|
|AFL||06/11 09:50||13|| Sydney v Hawthorn ||51-89|
The Sydney Swans are a professional Australian rules football club, based in Sydney, New South Wales. The club competes in the Australian Football League (AFL), the sport's premier league.
Sydney was established in 1874 in Melbourne, Victoria as the South Melbourne Football Club and initially played in the Victorian Football Association (VFA). Sydney joined seven other clubs in 1896 in founding the breakaway Victorian Football League (VFL), since renamed the AFL. During a period of expansion for the VFL, Sydney became the first club in the competition to be based outside of Victoria when they relocated to Sydney in 1982. As of 2021, the club fields a reserves team in the Victorian Football League.
Sydney has won 5 premierships while competing in the AFL. It won premierships 1909, 1918 and 1933 before experiencing a 72-year premiership drought—the longest of any team in the competition's history. This premiership drought ended with the club's 2005 Grand Final victory, which was later followed by another premiership in 2012.
Originally known as the "Bloods" in reference to the red used on players guernseys, the Swan emblem was adopted in 1933 after a journalist at the time referred to them using the moniker following a large influx of Western Australian players. The club's headquarters and training facilities are located at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which has been the club's playing home ground since 1982.
This article or section appears to be slanted towards recent events.(December 2011)
The inauguration date of the club is officially 19 June 1874, it was first known as "Cecil Football Club", but adopted the name "South Melbourne Football Club" four weeks later, on 15 July. In 1880, South Melbourne amalgamated with the nearby Albert-park Football Club, which had a senior football history dating back to May 1867 (Albert-park had, in fact, been known as South Melbourne during its first year of existence). Following the amalgamation, the club retained the name South Melbourne, and adopted the club's now familiar red and white colours from Albert-park. Nicknamed the "Southerners", the team was more colourfully known as the "Bloods", in reference to the bright red diagonal sash on their white jumpers (the sash was replaced with a red "V" in 1932). The colourful epithet the "Bloodstained Angels" was also in use. The club was based at Lake Oval, also home of the South Melbourne Cricket Club.
South Melbourne was a junior foundation club of the Victorian Football Association in 1877, and attained senior status in 1879; The South Melbourne amalgamation with neighbouring Albert-park Football Club in 1880, formed a club that became the strongest in metropolitan Melbourne. Over its first decade as an amalgamated club, South Melbourne won five VFA premierships – in 1881, 1885 (undefeated) and three-in-a-row in 1888, 1889 and 1890 – and was runner-up to the provincial Geelong Football Club in 1880, 1883 and 1886.
At the end of the 1896 season, Collingwood and South Melbourne finished equal at the top of the VFA's premiership ladder with records of 14–3–1, requiring a playoff match to determine the season's premiership; this was the first time this had occurred in VFA history. The match took place on 3 October 1896 at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground. Collingwood won the match, six goals to five, in front of an estimated crowd of 12,000.
This grand final would be the last match South Melbourne would play in the VFA, as the following season they would be one of eight founding clubs forming the breakaway Victorian Football League. The other clubs were St Kilda Football Club, Essendon Football Club, Fitzroy Football Club, Melbourne Football Club, Geelong Football Club, Carlton Football Club and Collingwood Football Club.
South Melbourne was one of the original founding clubs of the Victorian Football League that was formed in 1897.
The club had early success and won their first VFL premiership in 1909. They also won one in 1918.
The club was at its most successful in the 1930s, when key recruits from both Victoria and interstate led to a string of appearances in the finals, including four successive grand final appearances from 1933 to 1936, albeit with only one premiership in 1933. The collection of players recruited from interstate in 1932/1933 became known as South Melbourne's "Foreign Legion".
On grand final eve, 1935, as the Swans prepared to take on Collingwood, star full-forward Bob Pratt was clipped by a truck moments after stepping off a tram and subsequently missed the match for South. Ironically, the truck driver was a South Melbourne supporter.
It was during this period that the team became known as the Swans. The nickname, which was suggested by a Herald and Weekly Times artist in 1933, was inspired by the number of Western Australians in the team (the black swan being the state emblem of Western Australia), and was formally adopted by the club before the following season 1934. The name stuck, in part due to the club's association with nearby Albert Park and Lake, also known for its swans (although there are no longer any non-native white swans and only black, indigenous swans in the lake).
After several years with only limited success, South Melbourne next reached the grand final in 1945. The match, played against Carlton, was to become known colloquially as "the Bloodbath", due to the player brawl that overshadowed the match, with a total of 9 players being reported by the umpires. Carlton won the match by 28 points, and from then on, South Melbourne struggled for many years.
Following the end of the second world war, South Melbourne consistently struggled, as their traditional inner-city recruiting district largely emptied as a result of demographic shifts. The club missed the finals in 1946 and continued to fall such that by 1950 they were second-last on the ladder. They narrowly missed the finals in 1952, but from 1953 to 1969, they never finished any higher than eighth on the ladder. By the 1960s it was clear that South Melbourne's financial resources would not be capable of allowing them to compete in the growing market for country and interstate players, and their own local zone was never strong enough to compensate for this. The introduction of country zoning failed to help, as the Riverina Football League proved to be one of the least profitable zones.
Between 1945 and 1981, South Melbourne made the finals only twice: under legendary coach Norm Smith, South Melbourne finished fourth in 1970, but lost the first semi-final; and, in 1977, the club finished fifth under coach Ian Stewart, but lost the elimination final. In that time, they "won" three wooden spoons. Between Round 7, 1972 and Round 13, 1973, the team lost 29 consecutive games. By the end of the 1970s South Melbourne were saddled with massive debts after struggling for such a long period of time.
The VFL has been actively seeking an audience in Sydney since its first exhibition match in 1903 drew 20,000 people. For more than three quarters of a century, it had strategically scheduled matches in Sydney and through the Australian National Football Council - showcasing interstate tournaments and encouraging its clubs to play against the state representative side and even attempting to negotiate a hybrid code with rugby league. However interest in the code in Sydney remained the poorest in the country (where it was behind three other football codes). In the late 1970s, however, with increasing professionalism of the sport there was an overall increase in national interest in the VFL competition. In 1979 the financially struggling Fitzroy Lions conducted a feasibility study into the possibility of moving to North Sydney and a proposal was put forward, but was voted down by its board in 1980. The VFL scheduled 2 premiership matches for the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1979. One of them, between the previous year's grand finalists: North Melbourne and Hawthorn game drew a record 31,395 to the gates. To test the market further, the VFL scheduled 4 matches for the SCG in 1980 with an average attendance of 19,000. In April 1980, the VFL stated that its market study showed there was sufficient support for a Sydney team, finding that there was an increase in television ratings in Sydney and sustained attendance at matches and that it intended to have a team in Sydney, possibly as soon as 1982. A 1981 report by Graham Huggins concluded that there was an "untapped market in Sydney which represented an excellent opportunity for the league." The report claimed that 60,000 people in Sydney had stated that they would regularly support the new club and 90% of these supporters would watch VFL on television from Sydney and 80% of these supporters had not attended rugby and 92% believed that Australian rules could become popular in Sydney. In 1981 the VFL had decided that it would establish an entirely new 13th VFL club in Sydney along with a 14th team possibly in Adelaide.
In 1981, Canberra's ACTAFL, had just begun to edge out rugby league in popularity with an increase in participation. Under significant pressure from rugby league junior development in the territory and fearing the impact on its strong local competition of entry of a Sydney team made a formal bid for license to enter a Canberra team into the VFL. With corporate backing and strong public support including local legend Alex Jesaulenko, the Canberra bid was confident it would be a successful expansion club. The VFL's Allen Aylett however, determined to pursue the entry of a Sydney team, dismissed the Canberra bid publishing a scathing report on the development of football in the ACT, stating that the VFL would not consider Canberra for a license for more than 10 years. The report was criticised by the ACTAFL as a template for the NSW Rugby League to raid the prime Canberra market, which it did successfully, the following year. Not only did the VFL's Sydney plan and the Canberra Raiders decimate the ACTAFL's popularity, but to later bail out the struggling Swans and without consulting the ACTAFL, designated it an exclusive recruitment zone, taking with it many of the league's best players.
With the possibility of another club making Sydney a viable move, in 1981, the South Melbourne board, recognising the structural difficulties it faced with long-term viability and financial stability in Melbourne, decided not to miss what it saw as a strategic opportunity to capture an untapped market and save its club. The board made the decision to play all 1982 home games in Sydney. The club had been operating at a loss of at least $150,000 for the previous five years. News of the proposal broke on 2 July 1981, after which a letter was sent to members justifying the board's reasons for making the proposal and noting that the coach and current players were in favour of the move. On 29 July 1981, the VFL formally accepted the proposal, and paved the way for the Swans to shift to Sydney in 1982.
Inevitably, the move caused very great internal difficulties as a large supporters' group known as Keep South at South campaigned against the move throughout the rest of 1981; and, at an extraordinary general meeting on 22 September, the group democratically won control of the club's board. However, the new board did not have the power to unilaterally stop the move to Sydney: under the VFL constitution, to rescind the decision that had been made on 29 July required a three-quarters majority in a vote of all twelve clubs, and at a meeting on 14 October it failed to obtain this majority. The new board, whilst representative of most fans, lacked the support of the players, many of whom were in favour of a long-term move to Sydney; in early November, after the board promised that it would try to bring the club back to Melbourne in 1983, the players went on strike, seeking to force the new board to commit to Sydney in the long term as well as seeking payments that the cash-strapped club owed them from the previous season. The board ended up undermining its own position when it accepted a $400,000 loan from the VFL in late November in order to stay solvent, under the condition that it commit to Sydney for at least two years. Finally, in early December, the Keep South at South board resigned and a board in favour of the move to Sydney was installed.
Upon moving, the club played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In 1982, the club was still technically a Melbourne-based club which played all of its home games in Sydney; however it dropped the name "South Melbourne" in June 1982, becoming known officially simply as "the Swans" for the rest of that season. It was not until 1983 that the club formally moved all its operations to Sydney and became the Sydney Swans. Its physical "home club" was the "Southern Cross Social Club" at 120a Clovelly Road, Randwick, New South Wales which became bankrupt in 1987; new Sydney Swans Offices were then set up in the newly built Sydney Football Stadium.
|1982 Escort Championships Final||G||B||Total|
|Venue: Waverley Park||Crowd: 20,028|
By 1984, initial positive signs for the VFL in Sydney turned sour. Average crowds in Sydney had plummeted to 12,000 and Swans supporter packages dropped to as low as 100 members and VFL administrators were looking to offload the struggling club.
On 31 July 1985, for what was thought to be $6.3 million, Geoffrey Edelsten "bought" the Swans; in reality it was $2.9 million in cash with funding and other payments spread over five years. Edelsten resigned as chairman in less than twelve months, but had already made his mark. He immediately recruited former Geelong coach Tom Hafey. Hafey, in turn, used his knowledge of Geelong's contracts to recruit David Bolton, Bernard Toohey and Greg Williams, who would all form a key part of the Sydney side, at a league-determined total fee of $240,000 (less than the $500,000 Geelong demanded and even the $300,000 Sydney offered). The likes of Gerard Healy, Merv Neagle and Paul Morwood were also poached from other clubs, and failed approaches were made to Simon Madden, Terry Daniher, Andrew Bews and Maurice Rioli.
During the Edelsten years, the Swans were seen by the Sydney public as a flamboyant, flashy club, typified by the style of its spearhead, Warwick Capper, his long bright blond mullet and bright pink boots made him unmissable on the field and his pink Lamborghini, penchant for girlfriends who were fashion models and his general showy eccentricity made him notorious off the field – all somewhat fashionable in the 1980s. During Capper's peak years, the Swans had made successive finals appearances for the first time since relocating. His consistently spectacular aerial exploits earned him the Mark of the Year award in 1987 while his goalkicking efforts (amassing 103 goals in 1987) made him runner up in the Coleman Medal two years running. The Swans’ successive finals appearances saw crowds during this time peak at an average of around 25,000 per game. Edelsten also introduced the "Swanettes", becoming the sole such American-style cheerleading group among VFL teams following the disbandment of Carlton's Blue Birds in 1986. The Swanettes did not get much performance time, owing to the short intervals between quarters of play in the VFL and the lack of space in which they might perform while other activities take place on the field. The Swanettes were rapidly discontinued.
In 1987, the Swans scored 201 points against the West Coast Eagles and the following week scored 236 points against the Essendon Football Club. Both games were at the SCG. The Swans remain one of only two clubs to have scored consecutive team tallies above 200 points, the only other being Geelong in 1992. However, this was followed by several heavy losses, including defeat by Hawthorn by 99 points in the Qualifying Final and by 76 points against Melbourne in the First Semi-final.
The club's form was to slump in the following year. Losses were in the millions. It was obvious to most that the Swans were struggling financially, though the owners Powerplay International Ltd were not selling in early 1988 the company advised the Australian Stock Exchange to cease trading its shares as it could not continue to trade until it had offloaded the Swans. A Canberra consortia including the ACTAFL initially proposed to buy the failed club and shift it to Canberra, however the VFL felt this was too extreme a move. The league compromised and along with Aylett, who had denied Canberra a license in 1981, proposed that the Swans play away games in the ACT with a dual aim of giving the club a sustainable supporter base and helping resurrect the code in the ACT which had lost enormous ground to rugby league since the introduction of the Canberra Raiders. However the VFL blocked the move feeling that the club would lose its identity if it were to play matches in Canberra.
By mid year the VFL had revoked the Swans license and took over ownership of the club, after an investigation under VFL CEO Ross Oakley determined that it was inable to continue operating. However, there were no buyers. On 6 May 1988 the VFL paid Powerplay just $10 to transfer ownership of the club in an attempt to keep it afloat until a buyer could be found. The VFL would wait months for the club to regain financial security. The VFL had reported that it needed to find a buyer willing to pay at least $4 million in order to make the club financially viable in the medium to long term. In the meantime, the league had secured a sponsor which helped underwrite the club until the sale.
At the end of 1988 the VFL re-tendered the Swans license and a group of financial backers including Mike Willesee, Basil Sellers, Peter Weinert and Craig Kimberley purchased the licence and bankrolled the club.
Morale at the side plummeted as players were asked to take pay cuts. Legendary coach Tom Hafey was sacked by the club in 1988 after a player-led rebellion at his tough training methods (unusual in the semi-professional days of that era).
Capper was sold to the Brisbane Bears for $400,000 in a desperate attempt to improve the club's finances. Instead, it only led to disastrous on-field performances. Instead of a 100-goal-a-season forward, Sydney's goalkicking was led by Bernard Toohey (usually a defender) with 29 in 1989, then Jim West with 34 in 1990. Players left the club in droves, including Brownlow Medalist Greg Williams, Bernard Toohey and Barry Mitchell. The careers of stars such as Dennis Carroll, David Bolton, Ian Roberts, Tony Morwood and David Murphy wound down, while promising young players like Jamie Lawson, Robert Teal and Paul Bryce had their careers cut short by injury.
Attendances consistently dropped below 10,000 when the team performed poorly between 1990 and 1994. The nadir came with three consecutive wooden spoons in 1992, 1993 and 1994.
The AFL stepped in to save the Swans, offering substantial monetary and management support. The club survived, despite strong rumours in 1992 that it would merge with the Brisbane Bears to form a combined New South Wales/Queensland team, fold altogether, or even move back to South Melbourne. With draft and salary cap concessions in the early 1990s and a series of notable recruits, the team became competitive after the early part of the decade.
During this time, the side was largely held together by two inspirational skippers, both from the Wagga Wagga region of country New South Wales, Dennis Carroll and later the courageous captain Paul Kelly.
Desperate to hang on, the club was keen to enlist the biggest names and identities in the AFL, and recruited legendary coach Ron Barassi who helped save the club from extinction while serving them as coach from Round 7, 1993 to 1995. At roughly the same time, Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton was also recruited, albeit with little on-field impact. On a much brighter side for the Swans, their captain Paul Kelly won the League's highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal, in 1995.
A big coup for the club was recruitment of St Kilda Football Club champion Tony "Plugger" Lockett in 1995. Lockett became a cult figure in Sydney, with an instant impact and along with the Super League war in the dominant rival rugby league football code in Australia, helped the Swans to become a powerhouse Sydney icon.
1995 would be Barassi's last year in charge. The Swans won eight games – as many as they did in the previous three seasons combined – and finished with a percentage of over 100 (in fact, they have managed such consistently ever since). They were also one of only two teams to defeat the all-conquering Carlton side of that year. Swans great Paul Kelly also won the Brownlow Medal that year. Barassi left an improving team, a club in a much better state than he found them.
|1996 AFL Home & Away Season||W||L||D||Total||%|
Former Hawthorn player Rodney Eade took over the reins in 1996 and after a slow start (they lost their first two games of the season), turned the club around into powerful force. The Swans ended the minor round on top of the premiership table with 16 wins, 5 losses and 1 draw. In the finals, the Swans won one of the most thrilling AFL preliminary finals in history after Plugger Lockett kicked a behind after the siren to win the game. The Swans lost the grand final to North Melbourne, which had been their first appearance in a grand final since 1945. The game was played in front of 93,102 at the MCG.
The Swans then made the finals for four of the next five full years that Rodney Eade was in charge. In 1998 they finished 3rd on the AFL ladder; despite beating St Kilda in their first final the Swans were then beaten by eventual premiers Adelaide in the semi-final at the SCG.
The 1999 season was a largely uneventful year for the club, the only real highlight being Tony Lockett kicking his record-breaking 1300th goal against Collingwood in Round 10. The 1999 season ended with a 69-point mauling at the hands of minor premiers Essendon.
After missing the finals in 2000, the Swans rebounded to finish 7th in 2001, but were beaten by Hawthorn by 55 points in their elimination final at Colonial Stadium.
Former Swans favourite son Paul Roos was appointed caretaker coach midway through the 2002 season, replacing Rodney Eade who was removed after Round 12. Roos won six of the remaining 10 games that year (including the last four of the season) and was installed as the permanent coach from the 2003 season onwards, despite rumors that Sydney had nearly concluded a deal with Terry Wallace.
Roos continued a record as a successful coach with the Swans for the eight full seasons that would follow.
A new home ground in ANZ Stadium (then known as Telstra Stadium) provided increased capacity over the SCG. The Swans' first game played at the Stadium in Round 9, 2002 against Essendon attracted 54,169 spectators. The Sydney Swans v Collingwood match on 23 August 2003 set an attendance record for the largest crowd to watch an AFL game outside of Victoria with an official attendance of 72,393 and was the largest home and away AFL crowd at any stadium for 2003. A preliminary final against the Brisbane Lions in 2003 attracted 71,019 people. The Swans lost all three of those significant matches.
2004 saw an average year for Sydney, however one highlight was when they ended St Kilda's undefeated start to the season in Round 11. The match was notable for Leo Barry's effort in nullifying the impact of St Kilda full-forward and eventual Coleman Medallist Fraser Gehrig, whom Barry restricted to only two possessions for the entire match.
Sydney was able to recruit another St Kilda export in the Lockett mould, Barry Hall. There were obvious parallels to the signing of Lockett (a powerful, tough forward from St Kilda with questions over his discipline and attitude), which left Hall with much to live up to. He flourished in his new surroundings and eventually became a cult figure and club leader in his own right.
As the new century dawned, Sydney implemented a policy of giving up high order draft picks in exchange for players who struggled at other clubs. It was during this era that the Swans picked up the likes of Paul Williams, Barry Hall, Craig Bolton, Darren Jolly, Ted Richards, Peter Everitt, Martin Mattner, Rhyce Shaw, Shane Mumford, Ben McGlynn and Mitch Morton, amongst others, and giving up higher order draft picks meant the Swans missed out on the likes of Daniel Motlop, Nick Dal Santo, James Kelly, Courtenay Dempsey and Sam Lonergan who went to Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Geelong and the latter two to Essendon respectively. This policy is said to have paid off in the Roos era, as they implemented a strict culture of discipline at the club.
In 2005, the Swans came under enormous public scrutiny, even from AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, for their unorthodox, "boring" defense-oriented tactics that included tightly controlling the tempo of the game and starving the opposition of possession (in fact, seven teams that season had their lowest possession total while playing against the Swans). Swans coach Paul Roos maintained that playing contested football was the style used by all recent Premiership-winning teams, and felt that it was ironic that the much criticised strategy proved ultimately successful.
Nick Davis! Nick Davis! I don't believe it! I see it, but I don't believe it!
Anthony Hudson's TV call of Nick Davis' fourth and match-winning goal in the semi-final against Geelong on Network Ten
Cox throws it onto the left, one last roll of the dice for the Eagles – Leo Barry, you star!...(Siren in background)...The longest Premiership drought in football history is over! For the first time in 72 years, the Swans are the champions of the AFL!"
Stephen Quartermain's TV call of Leo Barry's match- and title-clinching mark on Network Ten
After finishing third during the regular season, the Swans lost the second qualifying final against the West Coast Eagles at Subiaco Oval on 2 September by 10.5 (65) to 10.9 (69). This dropped them into a semi-final against the Geelong Cats at the SCG on 9 September, and the Swans trailed the Cats 31–53 before Nick Davis kicked four consecutive goals, with the last one a matter of seconds before the siren, to win the game for Sydney by 7.14 (56) to 7.11 (53). In the first preliminary final at the MCG on 16 September against St Kilda, the Swans used a seven-goal blitz in 11 minutes of the fourth quarter to overturn an 8-point deficit and overrun the Saints by 15.6 (96) to 9.11 (65).
The Swans faced the Eagles in a rematch in the AFL Grand Final on 24 September 2005, and this time, they prevailed by four points, final score 8.10 (58) to West Coast's 7.12 (54). In the last few minutes, the Sydney defence held strong, with Leo Barry marking the ball just before the siren to stop the Eagles' final desperate shot at goal. The Premiership was the Swans' first in 72 years and their first since being based in Sydney.
|2005 AFL Grand Final||G||B||Total|
|West Coast Eagles||7||12||54|
|Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground||Crowd: 91,898|
On Friday, 30 September 2005, a ticker tape parade down Sydney's George Street was held in honour of the Swans' achievements, which ended with a rally at Town Hall, where Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore presented the team with the key to the city. The flag of the Swans also flew on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the week; the same flag was later given to WA premier Geoff Gallop to fly on top of the state legislature in Perth as part of the friendly wager between Gallop and NSW premier Morris Iemma.
Off the field the Grand Final success instigated moves to make the club sustainable in the long term and capitalise on the success to grow the code in the state. The Greater Sydney Australian Football Foundation Limited was formed, which would later become the Sydney Swans Foundation aimed initially at raising $5 million in funds to develop the Swans and the code in New South Wales. The Foundation has raised millions since its inception and helped keep the Swans sustainable in Sydney.
As reigning premiers, the Sydney Swans started the 2006 season slowly, losing three of their first four games, including in round one to an Essendon side that would finish near the bottom of the ladder with only three wins and a draw, and finish with the worst defensive record of any side for the season (Sydney, conversely, had the best defensive record of any side).
The 2006 AFL Grand Final was contested between the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 30 September 2006. The West Coast Eagles avenged their 2005 Grand Final defeat by beating the Sydney Swans by one point, only the fourth one-point grand final margin in the competition's history.
The rivalry between the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles has become one of the great modern rivalries. The six games between the two sides (from the start of the 2005 finals to the first round of 2007 inclusive) were decided by a combined margin of 13 points. Four of those six games were finals and 2 grand finals.
Sydney finished the 2007 home and away season in 7th place, and advanced to the finals, where they faced and were defeated by Collingwood by 38 points in the elimination final. It was their earliest exit from the finals since 2001 and was a culmination of a mostly disappointing season, as only victories against lesser teams saw them through to a fifth consecutive finals campaign.
The conclusion of the 2007 trade saw the loss of Adam Schneider and Sean Dempster to St Kilda, the delisting of Simon Phillips, Jonathan Simpkin and Luke Vogels, and the gain of Henry Playfair from Geelong and Martin Mattner from Adelaide.
The Swans spent the middle part of the 2008 season inside the top four, however a late form slump which yielded only three wins in the last nine rounds saw the Swans drop to sixth at the conclusion of the 2008 regular season. Having qualified for the finals for a sixth consecutive season, the Swans defeated North Melbourne in the elimination final before losing to the Western Bulldogs the following week.
The 2010 season saw Sydney return to the finals by virtue of a fifth-place finish at the end of the regular season. The club defeated Carlton by five points in the elimination final before losing to the Western Bulldogs in the semi-finals for the second time in three seasons. The loss signalled the end of the Swans coaching career of Paul Roos as well as that of the playing career of Brett Kirk.
Former North Melbourne premiership-winning forward John Longmire took over as coach of Sydney as part of a succession plan initiated by Paul Roos in 2009 prior to the beginning of the 2011 season. He led the club to a seventh-place finish at the end of the regular season. Sydney defeated St Kilda in an elimination final at Docklands Stadium before losing to Hawthorn in the semi-finals the following week.
The 2012 season began for Sydney with the inaugural Sydney Derby against AFL newcomers Greater Western Sydney. After an even and physical first half, Sydney went on to win by 63 points. Subsequent wins over Fremantle, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne and Hawthorn saw Sydney sit second behind West Coast on percentage after Round 5, but Sydney would proceed to lose three of their next four matches before embarking on a nine-match winning streak between Rounds 10 and 19 inclusive. Sydney eventually finished the regular season in third place after losing three of their final four matches, all against finalists. Sydney defeated Adelaide and Collingwood in their two final to progress to the 2012 Grand Final. In the grand final, Sydney defeated Hawthorn by ten points in front of 99,683 people, securing the club's fifth premiership. Ryan O'Keefe was named the Norm Smith Medallist.
Following the 2013 season, Sydney's continued period of success, in which it has missed the finals only three times since 1995, led to some criticism about a salary cap concession which the club received; an additional Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), due to the higher cost of living in Sydney compared with any other Australian city. It was, however, announced in March 2014 that this allowance would be scrapped.
Sydney's 2014 season was extremely successful. The club won twelve consective games, equalling their club record that was achieved in 1935. They finished the season as minor premiers, achieving a club record of 17 wins for the season, eclipsing the previous highest of 16. The club defeated Fremantle and North Melbourne to qualify for 2014 Grand Final. Despite their successes over the year, Sydney was defeated in the grand final by Hawthorn. The 63-point loss was Sydney's worst loss of the season, and their highest conceded score in 12 years.
Prior to the 2014 trade period, the AFL and Sydney discussed and agreed upon a partial trade ban for the club until the end of the 2016 season, in regards to the COLA arrangements made eariler in the year. The ban would prevent the club from signing new players to the club through any means other than the national draft and, if broken, would cause the forfeit of all remaining COLA payments to the club. Despite complying with the trade ban, Sydney's chief executive Andrew Ireland expressed the club's unhappiness with the ban, believing the ban to have occurred despite the club following the AFL's rules. Following a special meeting of the AFL Commission in December 2014, Sydney and the AFL agreed to relax the trade restrictions - Sydney would be allowed to participate in future trade periods, but would be required to sign players and free agents at or below the average league wage at the time.
The following season, Sydney indicated they would further fight the trade restrictions prior to the 2015 trade period. The club lodged a formal submission to the AFL to have the trade ban further altered in August 2015. Following further discussion between Sydney and the AFL, the league further relaxed the trade restrictions for the club. In the revised deal, the club was permitted to replace one player who exited the club with another player on a contract of up to $450,000 per year. If the club chose to take this option, the COLA allowance for 2016 was to be lowered by 9.8% of the exiting player's contract, if the player had been contracted for 2016.
After a semi-final loss in 2015, the 2016 season was more successful for Sydney. The club finished as minor premiers with 17 wins, including a 113-point victory over Richmond to claim the minor premiership. Despite a loss in their qualifying final to GWS, the club won their following two finals to qualify for their third grand final in five years. The club was defeated in the grand final by the Western Bulldogs, losing by 22 points. The 2017 season began with six consecutive defeats, becoming the first grand finalist to start a season with six consective defeats. However, the club went on to win 13 from their next 15 games, becoming the first team to reach the finals after starting the season with six losses.
They won their first match of the interrupted 2020 season against Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval by three points, but won only four more games for the season, missing the finals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1994–95. The 16th-place finish was also the lowest in club history.
After two seasons out of the finals, Sydney rebounded to great effect in 2021. An excellent first month of the season, which saw them upset Brisbane and reigning premiers Richmond, set up a strong home-and-away campaign. Seven wins in their final eight games saw Sydney secure sixth position with a 15–7 win-loss record, just percentage outside the top four.