Before the AFL’s Indigenous round etched itself into the footy calendar and Dreamtime matches filled the MCG with tens of thousands, the Sydney Swans had been celebrating First Nations roots in Australian Football for years.

The SCG takes centrestage when Sydney host Richmond in the second week of Sir Doug Nicholls round, part of an annual occasion dating back 20 years.

The first Marn Grook match, then played at Sydney Olympic Park, saw the Swans take on Essendon in front of 54,000 fans back in 2002.

The night included performances from the Bangarra dance company, a precursor to the festivities setting the seen ahead of matches throughout AFL Indigenous rounds since.

The contest took its name from the Indigenous game Marn Grook often credited with being a forerunner to Aussie Rules football.

The Swans have had a proud and sometimes complicated relationship with First Nations players and culture in the years since that first match.

Fan favourite Michael O’Loughlin became the first Sydney player to 300 games and modern great Lance Franklin made the move north from Hawthorn at the end of 2013.

However relationships were soured after duel Brownlow medallist, premiership hero and club games record holder Adam Goodes was unceremoniously pushed away from the game under a cloud of racially-fueled mistreatment.

In 2022 Goodes’ and O’Loughlin’s GO Foundation has partnered with the Swans for Friday’s Marn Grook at the SCG.

Richmond and Sydney will exchange cultural gifts on the night and Swans players and staff engaged with cultural learning experiences on Sydney harbour on through the week.

To add to the ceremonies, Friday’s clash against the Tigers presents as a make-or-break match for the Swans.

Sydney come off a lean period with one win from their last four attempts while the Tigers have re-established themselves as a genuine finals threat following a hangover period after handful of flags and question marks hanging over their credentials.

A genuine eight-shaper, the sides are at a deadlock, sitting seventh on the ladder with six wins and 120.4 percentage points apiece.

Marn Grook at the SCG kicks off 7:50pm AEST in Sydney Friday night.