"Her beautifully crafted book ... [is] written by a true believer for all the other true believers. It is a singularly welcome edition to the rich trove of Swans' history and culture. Jan, you have done the Swans and the millions of true believers proud."
Richard Colless AM
Sydney Swans Chairman 1993-2013
Jan was born two months prematurely, in Melbourne in 1943. It was a struggle at first, but with fierce determination she defied the odds and survived.
The eldest of seven children, she was born into a Bloods family. Her great uncle was Jim Caldwell, captain of the South Melbourne premiership team of 1918.
Jan's red and white adventure began at her first game at Lake Oval, in South Melbourne, when she was not yet five. She became a Swan for life.
She was a reluctant schoolgirl at a Catholic convent in Melbourne, leaving at 16 to work in the family printing business for nine years. Travel beckoned and London became her home for a further nine years, and it was during this time that major changes in her life were to take place.
She became involved in politics, not in the conventional sense, but more from a '70s feminist perspective, and for the first time in her 27 years, became aware of the many injustices in the world – especially against black people. And, she also met her husband Marshall during this time.
Returning to Australia in 1977, she spent 22 years in Brisbane, working at the University of Queensland in one of their health science departments, before deciding in 1998 it was time to move to Sydney to be closer to her beloved Swans.
Opening an art gallery in Paddington the following year, she and Marshall enjoyed eleven years immersing themselves in another of Jan's passions - art. She had, after all, spent many hours at school perfecting the beautiful white puffed-up swan with a red V on all of her exercise books, and her paintings and drawings in her art exams always impressed the art teacher at the time.
In 2010, aged 67, she retired, although she definitely believes that retirement happens when you are six feet under.
Since then, Jan has continued the voluntary work that has kept her busy since her early Brisbane days, working with the elderly in their homes and in care. She has gained valuable insights from the many older people she has met over the years who have struggled to maintain their once-independent and care-free lifestyles, and feels extremely fortunate to still be able to continue this important aspect of her life.
She has also devoted the winter months to following the Sydney Swans around the country, wherever the AFL fixture deems they should play.
Her book grew out of her weekly articles published on the online site Footy Almanac in 2015, which include memories of the South Melbourne days: the childhood passion for her team, the frustrating teenage years of change and rebellion and when South rarely won a game, and the heartache and tumultuous years that culminated in the club’s wrenching move to Sydney in 1982.
She also traces the Swans’ journey in their new home, leading up to 1996, when they played in the Grand Final – her first ever for the red and white! – and the years beyond: the glorious 2005 Premiership win, the agony and tears after the 2006 one-point loss, the elation again in 2012, and the devastation of the 2014 demoralising defeat.
And she describes her sadness and the tears shed for our un-loving country in its treatment of Swans champion, Adam Goodes, in 2015.
Intertwining her life's journey with the love of a footy team – encompassing passion, dedication and perseverance – her devotion to the red and white has never waned.
This is a story of a 72-year journey: a journey involving family, rebellion, travel, love affairs, political awareness, sadness, happiness, joy – and the one constant: the love of the red and the white, the Swans.