Collingwood champion Dane Swan believes a series of “sprays” from club president Eddie McGuire helped him reach his potential during his glittering AFL career.
The Brownlow Medallist played 258 AFL games and won a premiership at Collingwood but was never far from off-field controversy thanks to an infamous party boy lifestyle.
That forced media mogul McGuire and Swan into numerous frank and animated conversations, particularly early in his career.
And while Swan – who is promoting his autobiography, Dane Swan: My Story – said those “fearful” conversations with McGuire often annoyed him, they had a big impact on his career.
“We obviously had our moments – completely caused by me – so he has given his fair share of sprays at me and they’re quite fearful,” Swan told The New Daily.
“They certainly worked at the time.
“Early in my career they made me a bit pissed off that he was yelling at me … I thought the sprays were all about me, ‘why was he having a go at me, I am still playing good footy, I should be able to do what I like’, but it was to make the team better.
“But once he got what he needed to off his chest it was nothing but positive.
“And the one thing he did was never hold a grudge. Once we got past it we got past it.”
Such was McGuire’s impact on Swan, he believes he may not have survived in the AFL under a different president.
“For me he was amazing, we grew up in the same part of the world [Broadmeadows, Melbourne] so maybe he kept a closer eye on me than most others,” he added.
The gun midfielder’s two biggest controversies book-ended his career.
In 2003, Swan was arrested and convicted of affray after a brawl at Melbourne’s Federation Square.
In 2012, he was banned by Collingwood for two games for breaking a team rule to abstain from alcohol.
Swan lifts the lid on his colourful career in his newly published book.
Swan on drugs
Rumours of drug use followed Swan through his time as a footballer and his book reveals he has “experimented” with recreational drugs.
In the book, Swan writes that he never took any performance-enhancing drugs during his career, nor did he test positive for illicit drugs.
But Swan told The New Daily illicit drug use in football was not as much of an issue as some people thought.
“With every rule ever invented someone probably hasn’t wanted it, but I’d say most AFL players accept it [drug testing],” he said.
“Most of the boys don’t do it anyway [illicit drugs] and I don’t think it is too much of a problem in the AFL.
“The rule isn’t debated much because blokes are too busy trying to play AFL and win games for their side.”
‘I wouldn’t accept the Brownlow’
Just this week, the AFL set a November 15 date for a decision on whether Jobe Watson should keep his 2012 Brownlow Medal.
Watson was one of 34 past and present Essendon players banned this year for his involvement in Essendon’s 2012 supplements saga.
It seems likely Watson will lose his medal, with Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin – joint runners-up in 2012 – set to retrospectively be given the game’s highest individual honour.
But Swan, who presented Watson with his medal in 2012, said that he would not accept the medal if he was Mitchell or Cotchin.
“If they take it off him no one should get it because do you then have to take all the votes off Essendon that year, and not count votes for people who played against Essendon?” Swan said.
“I think he [Watson] should keep it, if anything just put an asterisk next to it.
“I wouldn’t accept it if I finished second.”