Larrikin, laid-back, too casual, bad influence, ball magnet and superstar – these are just some of the labels given to Dane Swan, one of the great characters of the AFL's professional era. Taken by Collingwood at pick 58 in the 2001 'super draft', no one saw a future Brownlow medallist but the scruffy kid knew how to get the ball. Right from the start he made two things clear: he didn't like training and his mates and social life came first. Swan made front page news in 2003, and faced the sack after playing only three senior games. The infamous Collingwood Rat Pack took him under their wing, he thrived under Mick Malthouse's coaching, and grew into a talented and nerveless big-occasion player with an incredible mix of power and speed. Off the field, his tattoos, deadpan delivery, transgressions and blunt refusal to become an AFL robot meant he was often used as clickbait.
Despite mastering the art of appearing not to care about anything, in Dane Swan: My Story, Swan – for the first time – reveals the pride that drove him to succeed, his loyalty to family, mates and the club that gave him many last chances, and how he worked hard, his way. He takes us inside the highs of the premiership, and through the tumultuous years of the transition from Malthouse to Nathan Buckley. Footy might be only a game, but it's one hell of a ride with Dane Swan.
There's no one like him at all in this day and age.
One of the greatest players in the history of this club. He marched to the beat of his own drum, always, off the ground more so than on it, but I always liked the fact that he was an individual. And whatever he was doing, it worked.
The bigger the game, the more turned on he was, and that became evident at the peak of his career because he played his best footy on the biggest stages.
What made Swanny so good? It was talent, hard work and mental toughness to be that consistent.
It was quite extraordinary the way that he just got on with it. He loved winning, he loved the challenge and underneath it, he is a very proud person.
About the author: Dane Swan played 258 games for Collingwood Football Club. He achieved the ultimate team success as a premiership player, and his haul of individual awards is impressive: a Brownlow Medal, three Copeland Trophies, five All Australians, an AFLCA Most Valuable Player award, a Jim Stynes Medal, a couple of Anzac Medals, as well as a swag of top-three finishes in many awards. His unbelievably consistent output meant he averaged 26.85 disposals across 15 seasons, second only to Greg 'Diesel' Williams. Swan's career came to an untimely end in round 1 of 2016. He is acknowledged as one of the best modern midfielders and a one-of-a-kind champion of the competition.