Round 2 – Adelaide v Richmond: Welcome Home Bryce Gibbs

Bryce Gibbs & Richard Douglas at Glenelg 2006 (twitter @rjdouglas26)

 

Of course Bryce Gibbs should have already played 200 games for Adelaide but we’ve been over this before and it now is just filed in that fat folder entitled: Victorian Conspiracies.

 

So like Eddie Betts and Sam Jacobs, Gibbs served his apprenticeship at Carlton and arrives as a qualified AFL tradesman. When he left he was a 17-year-old from Glenelg with a drop punt that made you purr and Zen calmness that defied his age.

 

That season (2006) I had seen him do a remarkable thing. It was at the Bay Oval against Port Adelaide. Gibbs was playing out of the forward pocket near the scoreboard. A mis-kick floated forward and if this were a cricket match the teenager would have been caught in the outfield under a high one.  He judged the trajectory of the falling ball and sensed it might float out of bounds. So he stood with his heels lined up on the boundary line with his arms straight up. As the ball neared his outstretched palms he slowly fell backwards – like a gum felled in the forest. His timing was precise and he completed the mark and then gently landed on his back. The optical illusion was that he had marked in bounds. The moment was made complete by the crimson-faced Magpie defender screaming at the umpire that it wasn’t legal. I suspect the man white couldn’t resist the poetry of it and paid the grab.

 

It was the act of a young man who the Gods had given a co-ordination reserved only for a few – and the confidence that comes with it. He showed it as a toddler when his family was among a group that regularly went on holidays together. In caravan parks they would have kick-to-kicks and Bryce Gibbs would amaze them with his ball handling and skill. Not that it was a total surprise to the group. They were all Glenelg footballers who played in the club’s most successful era of the mid-1980s. Stephen Kernahan was among them and it was his number 4 that Bryce wore at the Blues.

 

Bryce’s father Ross was the player who defied everything. He was short but could stand on a defender’s shoulders to mark, slow but never caught with the ball and audacious enough to launch a drop-kick in a grand final (and later in a lower grade drop his dacks on the field to win a bet after kicking 100 goals). His co-ordination was such that he used to walk down the street bouncing a 20 cent coin off the ground and catching it as he went. Team-mate Scott Salisbury lost three dollars trying to emulate him.

 

Gibbs hated training and in one pre-season run through the suburbs he leapt over a fence and hid. When he heard the group nearing again he ran his head under a tap, sprinted out in front and claimed the praise of selectors for his pace. Despite this he never ran out of puff in his 253 matches (which should have qualified Bryce under the father-son for the Crows but we have been through this).

 

Ross arrived from West Perth in 1984 (following coach Graham Campbell) and immediately rang his girlfriend (later wife and mother-of) Julie to tell her that the players ran the nightclub at Glenelg and this is where he was staying. The Bay Disco was a scene in those days and coach Graham Cornes was woken many nights by the manager asking him to come down and haul some of his young turks out so he could close up. Cornes was, in the words of Kernahan, ‘the hard bastard’ who focused the talent. Not that it mattered to Ross. He once remarked that he didn’t know if Cornes was a good coach or not because by the time he got back to his position after a huddle he had already forgotten what he had said. Despite this he played a pivotal role in the premierships of 1985-86.

 

The son is not necessarily the father and this isn’t 1985 but every time number six gathered the ball it brought a smile to my face. He is taller, faster and more introverted than his dad but the skill is the same.

 

Against Richmond under a cloudless night sky lit by an Easter moon, Gibbs’s first act is a hip and shoulder that sends a Richmond opponent sprawling. This will be Adelaide’s night – Jenkins is making Rance struggle, Tex is rumbling and Greenwood picks the ball off the deck with impolite haste.

 

In the first term Jacobs kicks a worm burner that Eddie gathers on his knees before flipping to Gibbs who slots it from 40 out.

 

Purr.

 

In his first home game Darcy Fogarty grabbed his chances. The son of Lucindale kicks the ball through the big sticks as if he is dobbing them over the silo back home. He is country strong like that other number 32 whose name adorns the grandstand from whence Crow nation thunders its approval.

 

Fogarty played for Bays last year as a teenager – a decade after Gibbs.

 

For some of us, the Crows are the SANFL in the AFL. I like to think that yellow hoop on Bryce Gibb’s jumper is the same colour as the stripe on Ross Gibb’s Glenelg jumper.

 

It is good to have him home.

 

 

ADELAIDE    4.4   11.4   14.7   18.10 (118)
RICHMOND  4.2    9.4    10.9   12.10 (82)

 

GOALS
Adelaide: Jenkins 5, Walker 4, Sloane 2, Murphy 2, Fogarty 2, Gibbs, Ellis-Yolmen, Greenwood
Richmond:  Martin 5, Caddy 3, Edwards, Lambert, Bolton, Townsend 

 

BEST
Adelaide: Laird, Jenkins, Gibbs, Sloane, Jacobs, Hartigan, Ellis-Yolmen
Richmond: Martin, Caddy, Cotchin, Nankervis, Edwards, Short 

 

INJURIES
Adelaide: M.Crouch (hamstring), Mackay (concussion)
Richmond: TBC 

 

Reports: TBC

 

Umpires: Nicholls, Fleer, Mollison

 

Official crowd: 49,743 at the Adelaide Oval

 

About Michael Sexton

Michael Sexton is a journo working for the ABC in SA. His scribblings include "1964", "Fos Wiliams on Football" and the biography of Neil Sachse.

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    My opinion of Gibbs has gone way up since he’s been in the tricolours. Funny about that. (Wasn’t a big fan of his dad either, but he would’ve gone alright at Centrals)

    We are going to rely on him over the next few weeks now that we are Crouchless.

  2. Given the circumstances of losing Crouch early (who was starring), that was a really impressive win by the Crows.

    By the way Michael, I have just finished reading Chappell’s Last Stand and I thought it was brilliant.

  3. Peter_B says:

    Crouchless kickers?

  4. chrism76 says:

    Really nice piece – leaving aside my deep dislike for Gibbs senior in his Glenelg playing days.

  5. Dave Brown says:

    Heartily agree Michael (and with Smokie’s comment above). I remember the Bays coming over to the Parade in 2006 and giving us a hiding. Gibbs was getting midfield minutes that game and the, then, very strong Glenelg midfield almost formed a protective wall around him, recognizing they were nurturing a young talent. Also recall watching Fogarty play last year and thinking he didn’t need anyone’s protection, quite the opposite, in fact.

    As for Thursday night, with the addition of Gibbs, Fogarty, Ellis-Yolmen and Doedee the Crows may very well be the best marking team in the competition. They were certainly vastly superior to Richmond in the air. Hopefully the injuries don’t hurt too much.

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