SYDNEY coach Scott Gowans says he'd prefer the Swans to host a final at Henson Park, not the SCG, after the club celebrated a record crowd at the boutique inner west venue on Sunday.
Having been winless in their debut season last year, the Swans have surged to eighth spot with one round to go and could even secure a home final if results go their way next weekend.
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Their 19-point win over Collingwood on Sunday was played in front of 5,722 people at Henson Park, a club record at the venue and the third-biggest crowd of the season across the competition.
The Swans have averaged close to 5,000 fans from three games at Henson Park this year and four of the top six best-attended games of the season have been Sydney home games.
While Gowans knows a maiden finals campaign is far from secure for the Swans – they must beat Fremantle next week to have any chance – he acknowledged the role the Henson Park crowd has played in his side's campaign this season.
"Obviously the SCG is a beautiful venue, but the difference here is the atmosphere," he said when asked where he'd prefer to play a home final, should the Swans earn the right.
"I felt the crowd definitely played a part in it today. So I'd probably say here, at the moment.
"If we can get 5-6,000 people screaming for us, it makes a big difference."
Henson Park, located in the gentrified inner western Sydney suburb of Marrickville, is best known as the home of the Newtown Jets, who played in Australia's top level domestic rugby league competition (now the NRL) until 1983.
Nicole Livingstone, the general manager of women's football, last week praised the Swans for engaging with the local community and building solid crowd numbers in just their second season.
"To go to North Sydney Oval (where the Swans played GWS in round one) and to have quince paste and hand-picked grapes, cheddar cheese and biscuits in a little box that's got this beautiful wrapping on it – they've really thought about what they're doing and made it an experience," she told The Guardian.
"Even at Henson Park, they've gone to microbreweries in the local area and invited them in, but also promoted through their clientele to come to the football."
The increased crowd numbers have mirrored an uptick from the Swans on the field this year, who finished bottom of the ladder in their debut season in 2022.
Having recorded their maiden win in round one, they are one of seven clubs separated by just four points between seventh and 13th on the ladder with one round remaining.
"I actually turned to the other coaches and said, 'I think we're on today'," Gowans said after the match.
"I never felt like we lost more than about a five-minute block in the game, which is really a big step for us against a top-eight side.
"It's pretty special, isn't it? To reflect back to where we were last year, today keeps us alive."