For die-hard Sydney Swans fans, it’s in the Bloods

In 2015, Cummins, who has been a club member for 25 years, was invited to become a Swans ambassador, joining a select group of about 150 members including Jones, Mangos, media personality Deborah Hutton, broadcaster and journalist Jenny Brockie and the actor Hugo Weaving and singer Glenn Shorrock.

The Cummins family is closely linked to the ‘Bloods’ as their grandfather, Frank, played for South Melbourne Football Club’s Premiership team in 1918 (the club was renamed the Sydney Swans in 1983, having moved from Melbourne the year before).

“Every time I see the Sydney Swans play, I think of my grandfather,” Cummins said. “I adored him and loved hearing some of his stories. He didn’t talk much about his short football career but I could see the passion in him.”

She remembers her grandmother Olive telling her the origin story of the “Bloods” legend.

Referring to the early white jumper with a red sash, it was a South Melbourne Catholic priest who said at a mass before the 1918 grand final, “I bless you bloodstained angels to win next week”.

“That was shortened to Bloods, which is what the Swans now refer to as Bloods culture: that attitude that never gives up,” Cummins said.

“When I arrived in Sydney in 1988 I went to a few games where there were only about 1000 spectators. That has definitely changed now.”

On 7 September 1918 at the MCG, South Melbourne beat Collingwood by five points after falling behind in the last minute to take the title. On September 17, 2022, the Swans played the Pies again and booked their big last-place finish with a stunning one-point win over Geelong on Saturday.

Carolyn Cummins' grandfather Frank Cummins, second row far left, in the 1918 Premiership team.

Carolyn Cummins’ grandfather Frank Cummins, second row far left, in the 1918 Premiership team.

“Grandpop ran onto the field that day but later sat on the bench with a wobble like he always said and stayed there to cheer on his buddies,” Cummins said.

“I would have loved to have gone with him to the grand final to see how he likes the modern game: he died in 1971 and grandma in 1974 and I’m sure he would be proud to know that his granddaughter is an ambassador for the Sydney Swans and never miss a game.”

Frank’s great-grandsons Harry and Patrick Mainsbridge, who play for the North Shore Bombers, will also be in the stands for Saturday’s grand final.

Swans ambassador Jones said that just as the Swans had made Sydney their home all those years ago, so did he when he moved away from Victoria.


As a long-time Swans member, he was confident they would bring the trophy home.

“I was fortunate to recently get a tour of their new $70 million HQ in Moore Park and then found myself in Melbourne to see them defeat the Demons in the first final,” Jones said. “It looked good, so I confidently booked flights to my former hometown. After a stunning win over the Pies last week, all of our cygnets are now lined up.

“And while I love it, my 2012 Swans Premiership polo shirt is looking a bit tired and unlike Buddy Franklin I think it’s time to retire it.”

Carolyn Cummins is the commercial real estate editor at the Sydney Morning Herald.

News, results and expert analysis from the sports weekend are sent out every Monday. Sign up for our sports newsletter. For die-hard Sydney Swans fans, it’s in the Bloods

Joel McCord

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