With Swans in the grand finale, granny superfan Nell Cooper reserves a seat at the tattoo parlor

Nell Cooper is not one to get ahead of herself. At 93, she admits it’s better not to.

But as soon as her beloved South Melbourne Bloods, the Sydney Swans, made it through the Collingwood preliminary tie to secure a spot in the grand final at the weekend, she was on the phone.

Not family or friends, they could wait. His priority was to get an appointment with the local tattoo artist.

With the first two Sydney Swans titles, 2005 and 2012, proudly tattooed on her right forearm, this AFL super fan is ready to roll up her sleeves once again.

An elderly woman smiles for the camera and shows off her Sydney Swans premiership tattoo on her right forearm
Nell Cooper proudly displays her Prime Minister tattoos. (Supplied: Nell Cooper )

“I went with my right arm because that’s what I use to greet people and I have it as an art,” Nell said.

“I’ll do anything to advertise my Swannies.”

Nell, a founding member of the Swans cheerleading team, who lives in a residential care facility in North Melbourne, attends every Swans game played in Victoria.

Over the years, her love of the game has seen her fly to nearly every state in Australia.

“I know I’m probably not the oldest that works for them,” Nell said.

“But I think it would be the biggest that still goes every week.”

A group of six Sydney Swans fans dressed in the club's colors pose for a photo from their seats at a game.
Nell Cooper, a founding member of the Sydney Swans cheerleading squad, in her element with friends at a game. (Supplied: Nell Cooper)

Bloods fan from the start.

His path to the Bloods was established early in life due to his family’s connections to high-flying “Hall of Famer” Bob Pratt.

“My mother had five brothers and Bobby was very good friends with all of them and spent a lot of time at our house,” she said.

“So naturally I had to go to the barracks in South Melbourne.”

His own sons and daughters backed up his obsession, parochial supporters of game legends like triple Brownlow medalist Bobby Skilton, Ron “Smokey” Clegg and Freddy Goldsmith.

Two guys dressed in red holding a premiership glass with the sun shining in the background
Former Sydney Swans captain Barry Hall (right) and manager Paul Roos celebrate winning the AFL Premiership in 2005,(AAP)

These days, Nell has a soft spot for the likes of midfielder Chad Warner and has been known to approach Buddy Franklin after a game.

“I’ve never seen anyone get knocked down after a photo or a conversation, that’s the kind of player they are.”

Before he came to attention, his living room was covered from floor to ceiling with Swans memorabilia.

Now the decoration of his room is a bit more modest. But he hasn’t ruled out removing a family photo to make room for an additional club color should the Swans take silver this weekend.

“I certainly haven’t ruled it out,” Nell said.

The mother of five, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of 14 says a love of the game ran deep in her family and while not all members were devoted to the Swans, they would have no choice this weekend.

A group of victorious Sydney Swans AFL players hug each other in celebration as a dejected Collingwood player bows.
The Swans celebrate after their win over the Magpies last weekend.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

But if you think she’ll be watching from the comfort of an easy chair, politely cradling a cup of tea, think again.

Nell plans to be well positioned in the back row of the cheerleading squad, supported by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“You better believe I’ll be at the MCG,” he said. “There’s no chance he’s anywhere else.”

AFL Fans Association President Cheryl Critchley said Nell represented what the game was all about.

“Fans like Nell are the lifeblood of football and it’s encouraging to see their excitement during the big final week,” he said.

“That’s why we push so hard to get more tickets from the competing club. These fans are passionate, incredibly loyal and add so much color to the game.”

Benetas CEO Sandra Hills said Nell was a much-loved member of the residential care community.

“We expect Nell to win the Swans this weekend,” he said.

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