West Coast versus Adelaide
6:10 pm Saturday 31 August
What are the odds? Not good really. Adelaide and West Coast only within reach of finals because of Essendon’s supplement-tainted relegation to ninth position. By the opening bounce at Paterson Stadium it was all irrelevant. Carlton’s six goal comeback against Port Adelaide had closed off the final eight. The Blues by a whisker into September action.
So what did the Adelaide and West Coast clash mean? A chance for Eagles’ fans to farewell some of its retiring greats, for Crows supporters to see what might have been. At best it was a pointer toward next year.
In Busselton, two and a half hours drive south west of Perth it’s blustery outside, intermittent rain falls. Springs feels a long way off. I’m with Ann and the kids, all four of them in front of the television. A Saturday night ritual, bath, tea, and with winter pyjamas as they huddle on the couch to watch the first half of the footy. Heat from the fireplace warms the room as winter’s final hooray beats down outside. Watching the footy is the only television they are allowed. They probably think that there’s nothing else on. In some ways they are right.
Today August 31st also marks the sixteenth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. There’s a brief mention in the nightly news.
“Who’s that?” asks Jacy who’s eight years old and likes all things to do with fairies and Princesses.
“Prince William’s mother,” I answer. The father of the new baby George. Remember him?
I’m trying to keep the conversation short. Explaining death is difficult at the best of times especially when the footy is about to start.
“She died in a car crash, that’s why you have to be very careful on the road.”
Jacy seems content with that answer.
And then for a moment I am back there. Staying at a mate’s five bedroom stately house in Birmingham. Hearing the whispers and steady movement.
“She’s dead. Princess Di is dead.”
It’s hours after Australia heard the news. No Facebook and Twitter back then. I watch the television and see a middle aged couple I met a week before being interviewed. They were in a car behind the Princess’ and stopped to try to help. True story. What were the odds?
There was a sense of the unreal that Sunday morning. Everyone seemed upset by the news. Like they all knew her. Months later, dinner party jokes about Princes Di’s death were still frowned upon. I know I laughed at one to stony faced stares.
While England mourned the Crows were on an unlikely run to their first flag. Fourth going into the major round, many fans thought the Crows no chance of a premiership. But a Darren Jarman inspired win against the Saints followed by another ‘catch up’ premiership in 1998. What were the odds?
Sixteen years on and there’s no need to dwell on the past…for long.
No such luck for the Crows this year. The odds haven’t fallen their way. Or they haven’t done enough to make the odds fall their way. The loss of draft picks and officials’ suspension because of the Kurt Tippett contract has taken its toll on Adelaide. I’m not sure what excuse West Coast has. Rumours about the Eagles coach’s tenure have circulated for months.
It looks cold at Paterson’s Stadium, only the keen have turned up. The Crows jump the Eagles. It’s like watching a ball rolling down a steep hill. You know it’s going to have a fair bit of momentum by the time it reaches the bottom. One way traffic as the commentators say.
By half time the kids are in bed and the game is all but over. The Crows are ‘doing a Watto’ (credit JTH), that is performing when it matters least. By the final siren the Crows 34 scoring shots to 18 tells the story. Well part of it anyway. It’s an 86 point margin. Crows fans must wonder what if? Had they snuck into the eight, what would have been the odds of a run at the flag? Maybe it would have been like 97 and 98, but that’s probably dreaming which is all many fans can do until next season.
Adelaide 4.4, 8.7, 15.10, 19.15 (129)
West Coast Eagles 0.3, 3.7, 4.8, 5.13 (43)
Adelaide: Dangerfield 3, Otten 3, Grigg 3, Crouch 2, Thompson 2, Sloane 2, van Berlo, Callinan, Smith, Tambling
West Coast: Tunbridge 2, Smith, Dalziell, Wellingham.
Adelaide: All played well
West Coast Eagles: Priddis, Cox, Selwood
Umpires: Fleer, Wenn, Foot.
Official crowd: 29,416
Our Votes: Dangerfield (Ad), Thompson, (Ad) Sloane (Ad)