Swans players noticing more fan support

Sydney players such as co-captains Dane Rampe and Callum Mills have noticed a significant boost in home-town support ahead of the grand final.

DANE RAMPE of the Swans is tackled during the AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles at SCG in Sydney, Australia.
DANE RAMPE of the Swans is tackled during the AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles at SCG in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Dane Rampe still thinks he's done something wrong.

After years of relative anonymity in Sydney, the Swans co-captain is having more moments in his day-to-day life where he's recognised by AFL fans.

Rampe is grateful, but admits it can be disconcerting.

"From personal experience, you have people recognising you, looking at you a little bit more, and I'm thinking 'I've doubled parked you in' or something," he said.

"What are you looking at me for? - and they're like 'I just want to say good luck'."

The same thing has happened to fellow captain Callum Mills, who spoke a few days ago of being cheered out of a local cafe ahead of Saturday's showpiece against Geelong.

"It's a bit rattling, it's never really happened to me," he said.

"I didn't know whether to give them a thumbs up.

"It was pretty cool. It's something we're not really used to, living up here."

It's a long way removed from the mid-1990s, when the Swans were still a Sydney curiosity.

One of the key reasons that Tony Lockett then moved to Sydney from St Kilda was that he wouldn't be recognised so much.

"Plugger" probably wouldn't like it so much these days at the Swans.

"The last three weeks, since finals, Sydney has really ramped up with their support behind us," Mills said.

"It's been amazing. You go to the beach and there are Swans hats everywhere.

"It's awesome to see the city behind us."

Rampe says COVID-19 has had something to do with the additional support.

"I reckon after COVID, it's probably galvanised the city, really, and then everyone's tuned in a little bit more.

"It's probably that cherry on top for the work that's been done over the last five to 10 years, because the game is in a really healthy spot up here."

Likewise, the Melbourne fan base from their South Melbourne heritage remains strong and Rampe thinks it's becoming even more pronounced.

"You could get a sense of it really towards the back end of last year," he said.

"The support while we were in the hub down in Melbourne, it took us aback, really.

"The fans have sensed it and that's really built momentum as well. It makes a big difference."