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Swans' culture remains a benchmark
Guy Hand and Rob Forsaith
14:29 AEST Thu Sep 20 2012

It remains the strongest example of positive, modern-day AFL club culture.

Sydney's "Bloods" ethos which netted the Swans' first premiership in 72 years in 2005 and a raft of finals appearances since is the standard all club cultures are measured by.

Collingwood's ex-Swans ruckman Darren Jolly admits his new club wants to build something as strong, and he didn't understand the strength and quality of what Sydney had until he left.

Under former coach Paul Roos, players like now-retired skippers Stuart Maxfield and Brett Kirk and current veterans Jude Bolton and Adam Goodes moulded a team which became far more than the sum of its parts.

Player empowerment, playing for each other, never saying die, and strong off-field standards are its hallmarks.

Approaching his 300th game, Bolton says club culture is critical to success, but takes time to build.

It only arrived at the Swans after they got tired of falling short in seasons past.

"In a way I think we probably accepted a bit of mediocrity as a team ... we sort of came into finals and just got bundled out in the first week," Bolton said.

"The club really made a stand over that next journey when Roosy came in.

"We had a nucleus of players that really wanted to stand for something and build a better culture.

"And we certainly got on board with Roosy, and it's been continued with (current coach) John Longmire."

Jolly, who has been part of attempting to introduce similar standards at the Magpies as they prepare to battle Sydney in Friday night's preliminary final, admits comparisons are hard to make between the two cultures.

But the Magpies showed they aren't averse to putting team ahead of individual, banning star midfielder Dane Swan for breaking an internal club alcohol ban at a critical point this season.

"It's hard to compare," Jolly told AAP.

"Sydney's culture was extremely strong when I walked in.

"We have got a strong culture here, but it's completely different.

"We're building our own unique culture and we're heading in the right direction.

"There were a number of times in Sydney I would say `what are we doing this for?'

"Now, I can look back and say `OK, I understand why'.

"If I say `tell me about the Sydney Swans', you can reel off all the things that you know about them which they've worked hard to build up through that great culture they have.

"We can't build the same. It has to be our own unique one."

Bolton says the basics of strong club culture appear simple - following through takes its own strength.

"We do have to give a few pretty brutal assessments to teammates," Bolton said.

"It's a culture of open and honest feedback. It's something we're really proud of, but it takes a lot of guys to buy in.

"If you don't act your way in, you can act your way out."