The "no d#@*heads" policy

Now the cheering and jeering has stopped, the crowds returned home, the muddied boots chucked back in the cupboard and the football season (at least in the two codes that matter) put to bed ... can we talk about the Sydney Swans' lack of visible tattoos? ...

A lot has been said of the 2012 Premiers being a champion team, not a team of champions; that the Swans' greatest asset is that their whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

They aren't the most skilled bunch of blokes in the comp, they don't have high draft picks and ooze young talent but, they personify guts, effort, honour and camaraderie.

Is this just a happy accident?

Or, perhaps, a backwards rationalisation for a group of feisty mongrels who happened to be in the right place at the right time and got lucky?

Or maybe, it's a result of Swans' management consciously choosing "team men", blokes who are happy to do their job and not make it all about them; of the unofficial, yet well-known "no dickheads" recruitment policy at the club?

Is it then just another happy accident that this strategy of only fielding "cleanskins" extends to the players' lack of visible tattoos?

Take a look at this picture ... and this one ... go to the Swans website and check out the pics of their fan days ... and see if you can spot one sleeve of tatts, a half sleeve, or even a sneaky cursive memorial to "me dead mate" on a bicep.

I think you'll not find a single tribal band, flaming dice, carp, misspelt surname or Southern Cross in sight.


To be fair, Nick Maceski does have a couple of cartoons his back, one of which peeks out of the neck of his jersey and, I think, Lewis Jetta has one on his inside forearm.

But that's it as far a visibile tattoos go. The Swans' most heavily tattooed player, Jesse White, was long ago banished to the reserves.

Now, get a load of some of the disappointments of 2012: Collingwood's Dane Swans is off the charts when it comes to ink, as is reigning club champion Dayne Beams. Harry O'Brien and troubled key forward Travis Cloke also like a tattoo or 80.

Looking around the league, the list goes on ... Lance Franklin, Nathan Jones, Dustin Martin ... but no Swannies.

I have a tattoo, so I'm not casting stones (well, maybe I'm tossing them) but it seems to me, the trend of visible tattoos - that are out there and in your face - are often an extension of a "LOOK AT ME" attitude.

As an athlete, this might work if you have the skill and profile of a David Beckham but I reckon it's not a great attitudinal blueprint for a youngster in a team sport.

And before you start in on me (a league fan) for bashing the AFL, I readily admit that the NRL is far, far worse for visible tattoos and a "me first" attitude amongst players.

Given the numbers of Polynesian players in league and the cultural significance of tattooing, the NRL will probably always have more ink.

That said, with the lure of rugby union dollars, English pounds (and even Japanese yen), not to mention the mechanics of league's player transfer system - the right to free agency - where players sign for opposing clubs almost 18 months in advance - you can't pass a football on most NRL teams without hitting a self-involved dickhead fretting over his contract.

But AFL is catching up; the first year of free agency is upon us.

As are the tattoos.

If you doubt this theory - that you can pick a dickhead and the trouble he'll cause, from his tatts - lemme pose one more question for you.

How is it that the Sydney Swans live in the biggest media market in Australia, full of journos ready to skewer anyone who crosses the line ever-so-slightly - especially those from the southern states trying to play "aerial ping pong" - and they are NEVER in the news?



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