Every Premiership team has their feel-good stories.
But outside the initial team of 22 are the series of hard-luck stories and that’s where Sydney’s Ben McGlynn has spent some of his time throughout his 11-year career.
This weekend, the veteran Swan will line up in his second Grand Final, but he’s also been in the stands on two occasions while his teammates celebrated the ultimate glory.
His first bitter-sweet taste of a premiership season was in 2008, where McGlynn played only three games for the Hawks due to suspensions and injury after appearing in 21 matches the previous season.
Traded to the Swans at the end of 2009, he cemented his spot in the Sydney line-up and played 22 games in 2012 before ripping his hamstring in the qualifying final and again forced to watch his teammates celebrate.
Described as an “emotional and popular little guy” by friend and former Hawthorn teammate Brad Sewell, McGlynn is be determined to ensure he doesn’t suffer the same fate again.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve and it’s always hard on anyone missing out this time of year,” Sewell told Aflplayers.com.au.
“It takes a long time for guys to digest that and probably the best time to do that is over pre-season and training as hard as you can, which is clearly what he’s done.
“I think as you get older, those things hurt a little bit more and that was certainly evident in how emotional he was after the Grand Final in 2012.”
While it would be obvious to draw motivation from such peculiar situations in 2008 and 2012, McGlynn suggests it’s beneficial to do otherwise.
“2012 was a while ago now and I drew on that experience throughout 2013 which wasn’t really great for my headspace. Nowadays I really try and focus on the present moment and controlling what I can control which is what I’m doing today, tomorrow and how I train and not worry about what the future could be,” McGlynn tells Aflplayers.com.au.
“You try to focus on what you can control during the game. You need to be on from the first bounce because it comes and goes pretty quickly.
“Throughout 2013, I had games where I had a lot on my mind and it was really affecting my footy. The best thing for me was to put it to rest.”
Retribution seemed to come two years later when he appeared in his first Grand Final against his previous club. But as fate would have it, there was no stopping the Hawks on their way to back-to-back flags.
It may be the case of fourth time lucky for the 31-year-old and he’s definitely learnt a thing or two about Grand Final week in the last few years.
“I’m a bit more relaxed this time around,” McGlynn added.
In 2014 I might have been a bit overwhelmed by it during the week. So this year I’m trying to enjoy it for what it is and I know there’s a couple of young guys who are having some sleepless nights but I try to pass onto them that it’s just another week and we need to focus on giving four quarters of our brand of football.
“I think you can get a good balance throughout the week and enjoy some moments. We had a big crowd at training on Monday but it’s when you get home where you need to just switch off and not get caught up in watching, listening or reading anything.
“You need to just go about your normal week and if you get that balance right, I’m sure it’ll be and enjoyable week for everyone.”
Playing off in a Grand Final for the third time in five seasons, the Swans will come out firing from the first bounce if their recent form is anything to go by.
John Longmire’s men outscored the Crows and the Cats by a combined 64 points in the first quarter, a plan that has been so successful for the previous premiership winner.
“In 2014, you saw how Hawthorn approached it and their attack on the footy. From a personal point of view, you try and not change too much in the lead up but once that ball bounced, Hawthorn put a lot of pressure on us and got on the front foot early,” McGlynn noted.
As for McGlynn’s own form, he has been important for the Swans’ front half of the ground. He’s kicked four goals, collected 34 touches and 12 tackles in the last two weeks and has been the barometer for the side’s pressure around the contest.
According to Sewell, McGlynn has always played a finals brand of football, so it would be no surprise if he performs well this Saturday.
“He’s always been that type of ballistic little player, he’s got a huge engine and is always very physical. But I think you can sense that he’s playing with a bit more urgency this time around to make sure they get themselves in the best possible position to try and win.
“I think he’ll go well [this weekend]. His form in the last month has been really strong and his first quarter on Friday was instrumental in setting it up for Sydney, so I’m hoping he can continue that.”
After 170 games and four chances at September glory, no Swan would be more deserving of a premiership medallion than McGlynn.