AFL Round 11 – Adelaide v Sydney: Slow start, supersonic finish

There was trouble brewing on the tarmac at Kingsford Smith airport on Friday afternoon. The captain had halted takeoff due to the cockpit air con malfunctioning and the mood inside the cabin was growing ugly. “Harden up.” someone yelled. “Open a window.” shrieked another. I grabbed a passing steward and hissed “Open the bar.” But no-one was listening and after thirty agonising minutes we slowly rolled back to the terminal to await a replacement plane. Four hours later we landed in Adelaide.

It seemed to take that long to get to the game on Saturday afternoon too. The shuttle bus got snarled in traffic heading out of the city and I was nodding off as we inched into Footy Park. Upon arrival there was a mad scramble for our seats so as not to not miss the first bounce. Snagging a couple of Swans scarfs for our Sydney originating but Adelaide dwelling friends who’d come along for the game we shambled down towards the boundary fence in the crisp late afternoon.

We’d knocked off this Enemy last September and for once I wasn’t feeling that nervous going into a game. Still the motivation of Dangerfield’s 100th appearance and a loud sulking over the Tippett trade fiasco were danger elements. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being disappointed Tippett wasn’t starting but also wondered whether the inclusion of Jesse White was a red rag to a bull.

It wasn’t.

The start of the first quarter was about as close as this game got. Our defence had to cope with some early pressure before Bird scored off an O’Keefe ball. White, possibly relishing a chance to give it to the team who’d rejected him in the trade, booted a long goal. Hannebury’s goal was where the momentum really shifted our way with the boys trapping the ball in the forward fifty for the remainder of the term.

By the time we reached half time the scoreboard screen had to stretch to a second page to list all our goal scorers. The Swans’ vice- like pressure put The Enemy on the back foot and with their rushed handballs came the turnovers and goals. Both White and Morton showed class but practically every one of the players had a crack at the big sticks to put us forty seven points up at the siren.

Down in the bar I chatted to some Enemy fans over a pint of West End. There was an air of resignation to their talk. One guy who looked like he couldn’t run fifty metres without collapsing had more fire in his belly than his entire team. His desire for a second half comeback was palpable but completely lacking any belief that it was going to happen.

It didn’t.

I’d thought that Jetta’s omission was going to hurt us; that we hadn’t the required burst on the larger field. But we had no need for speed instead opting for the blitzkrieg option, blasting the attacking arc with stunning ferocity and accuracy to extend our lead out to eighty seven points. Morton’s magic off the side of his boot was a memorable highlight but the sheer class on show really blew everyone away. The Enemy were unlucky with several posters and their 19th man was of no help. It seemed every time the announcer tried to rev up the crowd the Swans scored another one.

I got up to leave and suddenly realised we had another quarter of football to go.

With Mummy subbed off after flattening an Enemy player Brandon Jack, Kieran’s brother, made his debut to little fanfare. Shame it wasn’t on the SCG where we could give him a more fitting welcome.

“Kick to me.”

When The Enemy fans are shouting things like that and meaning it you know the jig is up. Still after both Bolton and McGlynn kicked majors the Swans eased up somewhat yet The Enemy could only claw the deficient back to seventy seven points.

The next day in Strathalbyn The Advertiser relayed that this was the Crows’ worst belting in nineteen years. I left the Commercial Hotel to stroll around in the afternoon warmth, suddenly in no hurry to get back to Sydney.

About Tom Bally

Born in 1834 Tom Bally was instrumental in establishing the rules of the modern game. It's a little known fact and the rare times he talks about it all he'll say is "that bloody Wills chap got me full of grape one night and the next thing I know he's peacocking around Richmond Paddock like he dreamt up the whole thing on his lonesome. Still I got the last laugh didn't I eh? Introducing the Umpire and all that."

Comments

  1. Ben Footner says:

    I live in Strath. Thankfully on Saturday night I was at the local dog track watching the hot air balloon regatta instead of home watching that terrible performance. I had the tape on it but it didn’t get a watch.

    I thought Adelaide was past those type of performances, I was wrong obviously. Grave fears for the rest of the season now.

Leave a Comment

*