Previously known as the South Melbourne Football Club, the Sydney Swans made history by being the first club in the VFL to be based outside of Victoria. Their interstate move opened the door for other states to have top-level teams, which lead to the name change of the competition from the VFL to the AFL.
Though you wouldn’t think of it now, this was the first case of the “dramatic-relocation-to-save-club” move.
While it was only 6 years before the club adopted the red and white, it took until the early 30s before South Melbourne became known as ‘the Swans’ due to the number of Western Australian imports at the club.
But the most dramatic chapter in the club’s history was in the early 1980s as the club fought off liquidation and amalgamation to survive. It was a heated, lengthy and messy battle between the ‘preservationists’ trying to keep the Swans in South Melbourne and those who saw the writing on the wall for the club’s future in Melbourne.
It’s hardly the start that a club needs with a a relocation, but to then battle against the loyal rugby league following in Sydney would have made for a pretty tough challenge. In true Sydney style, they became initially known for their flamboyance (helped by the likes of Warwick Capper) and though the club flirted with bankruptcy in the early 90s, it has now become clear that the Sydney experiment has worked.
The latest logo was introduced a relatively long time ago in 1996 after the club ditched the VFL template style design that had survived the AFL transition. From a quick glance the logo is adequate, however up close you start to notice the inconsistent rendering of the swan – is it filled in with red or is it outlined? the area to the right of the swan neck and the bottom right corner of the opera house just feels a little unresolved.
Another gripe I have with the logo is the choice of font. Futura Bold Condensed is a fairly uninspired option and because the logo is a little bit older we don’t get a sense of the reasoning behind the choice. My guess is that the Swans wanted to look serious, possibly noble (the profile silhouette takes away aggression and adds a sense of maturity and nobility in my opinion) and traditional through the use of the Red V. It’s the sort of logo that allows for the famed Bloods culture of recent years – it’s not showy or exciting but it is respectful, and that is an incredibly important characteristic of any sports club logo.