Over the best part of a decade, North Melbourne skipper Andrew Swallow has built a reputation as one of the AFL’s genuine nice guys.
Off the field, he’s humble, polite and – according to a Herald Sun interview a few years back – more of an introvert than an extrovert.
“If you can build that sort of trust, when you get out on the footy field and demand something of them, they don’t have any hesitation in following” – Andrew Swallow
But on match-day, there are times when AFL captains must say and do things that are at odds with most of the traits listed above.
Swallow – who was mic’d up during last Friday’s match against the Bombers, as part of Channel 7’s coverage – was confrontational and held teammates accountable when they stepped outside the team’s ethos. He was also extremely vocal in supporting and directing his players. He even showed a bit of swagger, giving himself a pump-up to those he was sitting with on the bench.
After nailing Zach Merrett in a tackle, Swallow turned to Jamie MacMillan and joked, “silly man taking me on in a tackle.”
Earlier this season, Swallow told aflplayers.com.au about the importance of building strong relationships with teammates.
“You want them to know that you’re there to support them and help them. If you can build that sort of trust, when you get out on the footy field and demand something of them, they don’t have any hesitation in following,” he said.
Building that rapport is the biggest challenge of being an AFL captain.
“Match day is vitally important, but for most players it comes pretty naturally. You just go out there and do what you’ve always done.”