MICHAEL Swan's 150th game for East Perth might not have gone to plan last Saturday against Swan Districts, but the inspirational co-captain has no doubt with the tightness of the Royals playing group this year that they will bounce back strongly.
Swan brought up the milestone last Saturday in what turned out to be a 27-point loss to Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval as he became a life member of his beloved East Perth Football Club.
While that wasn’t the result he and the Royals were after, East Perth still sits in a strong position in second spot on the ladder half a game clear of Claremont and a game and-a-half behind Swan Districts.
The start has been tremendous, but Swan knows all too well what can happen in half a season. The majority of recent campaigns have seen the Royals start slowly and finish strongly, so he knows that they can't afford any drop and have to bounce back against Subiaco this Saturday.
"To tell you the truth I haven’t thought about finals at all and we haven’t spoken about it as a group. We are just trying to get better each week and I know it's a cliché, but if you do look too far ahead you will fall flat on your face," Swan said.
"We will just take each challenge as it comes and do our best to overcome it, and then move onto the next one. Half a season of football is a long time and you can just as easily fall over as quickly as you built up. We need to stick at it from here."
East Perth had somewhat of a building year in 2011 and then despite losing Brendan Lee, Pat Travers, Brendan Hancock and Nathan Blee, the recruitment of Paul Johnson, Tim Martin and Marcus White has proven tremendous but it's more than just that which has been a driving force.
The East Perth squad is extremely tight-knit and committed to the cause of trying to get something special out of 2012 together, and Swan has no doubt that closeness is playing a big part in their success so far this year.
"Everyone is enjoying their footy and it's easy when you are winning too," he said.
"We are coming and doing the training during the week and preparing ourselves as best as possible to be ready to perform on weekends. That's obviously what it's about, but we are all doing the workload required and following our game plan when we are out there."
"Everyone is really tight-knit and good mates. We hang out together all the time on weekends and after games, and there is a good respect there amongst the whole group. It doesn’t matter if you've played 100 games or haven’t made your debut yet, there is the respect there across the whole group and that's really important."
With a full senior squad of committed players at the club and when away from it, and everyone pushing themselves to the limit is also a big reason for why East Perth is sitting in such a good position with eight games of the home and away season to go.
"The biggest difference has been that everyone has got on board to live the values that we are trying to implement at the football club.
"Everyone is trying to get better constantly and with everyone getting on board and pulling their weight, and not just half the group, makes such a difference. That is happening from guy No. 1 to guy No. 65 down at the football club. Everyone is getting on board to live our values and contributing."
The addition of two quality big men in the form of Johnson and Martin has certainly been a catalyst for East Perth's season though.
"It's sensational having those big guys. Paul Johnson is like another midfielder when he's on the ground because his second and third efforts to follow are outstanding. He kicks the ball really well too, which is great for us," Swan said.
"Tim Martin as a back-up ruckman is probably good enough to be No. 1 ruck at most other teams so he is doing his job as well when he gets his chance."