AFL Round 19 – Adelaide v Port Adelaide: A single goal

I used to want it ALL. That’s what happens when you recklessly allow Dale Spender and her cohorts into your life. And for a brief period I came close to having it all – albeit within the confines of the University of Adelaide. Lazy mornings on the Barr Smith lawns dreaming about Coleridge, a bracing protest through the city streets at noon, wine-fuelled confabulations about the history of the reclining female nude in art on dusk. It was heady stuff back then.  I was drunk on love, politics, books and cheap tequila and, to top if off, my team had entered the AFL, leaving Port Adelaide in its wake. Suffer.

 

Away from the sandstone cloisters this thing called ‘the real world’ presented a few challenges. Men with dubious talent really were getting plum jobs ahead of me and so were swimsuit models. By my reckoning I had two choices – find a portal back to university life or redefine what happiness means to me. All one-way portals out of the real world were booked for the next twelve months so I set about shedding some of my hopes and aspirations. Yeah, equality was noble and important but I guess I could live as a second-class citizen in a patriarchal society for a few more years? I’d come this far. Controlling our own bodies, ending domestic violence, putting a stop to victim blaming, fighting for equal pay and affordable child care could all wait. All I really wanted in life was to BEAT PORT ADELAIDE.

 

I approached Showdown XXXV, the last at Football Park before the move to the Adelaide Oval, with more dread than usual, which was quite an accomplishment for me. I normally approach this game with the same amount of anxiety one feels visiting a proctologist.

 

My sense of unease was justifiable in the context of the season. Most rational Crows fans (and I’m told a pocket of such people exist somewhere on the outskirts of Adelaide) had given up on season 2013 a long time ago.  Not me. I stoically sat in the other camp, the one occupied by the delusional. It helps not having a solid grasp of mathematics.

 

Using the trusty nine-beaded abacus I figured out the Crows could still play finals if they won all of their remaining games against Port, North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and West Coast.  Sure, you wouldn’t choose to be in that position but in times like this it’s important to remember what Lord Byron said: “adversity is the first path to truth”, and as bad as our season was you really couldn’t compare it to what he went through.  Besides, we did beat Geelong two weeks ago without our own Romantic hero Dangerfield.

 

The Crows began Showdown XXXV with the sort of zeal that’s been at perilously low levels for most of their season.  Touted by triple Magarey Medallist Barrie Robran as the best set shot for goal he’s ever seen, Lewis Johnston got into the groove early in his first game since round 20 last year. Could he be the one to put a stop to the destructive forward line curse? Two glasses of Pinot later * I was the one in full flight: “All the way with L J”, all the while relishing the prospect of his middle name starting with B.

 

A 10-minute burst by Chad Wingard in the second term coincided with a period of self-imposed exile. As always, the laundry was my place of refuge. Not because, as advertisers would have you believe, women climax at the thought of cleaning products. Instead it had more to do with the strategic positioning of the TV to the laundry. I like the option of viewing or looking away in disgust.  My move appeared to confuse my bundle of gorgeousness on the floor.  Legs kicking furiously, he wrongly assumed I was up for a game of peek-a-boo. Poor cherub. How was he to know I was hiding behind the laundry door to get away from Wingard? One day Francis would understand this. One day he would be a part of it.

 

21 points down Jared Petrenko, LJ and 19-year old substitute Mitch Grigg sparked the Crows revival. There was that smell again. The smell from the Geelong game. The smell of hope. You know the one. It comes and goes all season unless you’re a Melbourne supporter in which case it never arrives in the first place.  The Showdown scent was particularly sweet, a plump, ripe mango ready to be devoured. That’s the smell of hope right there – a 7-goal quarter when your season is hanging by a thread. By the final change the Crows were two goals up and the juice was dripping down my chin.

 

It only got sweeter. At the 22-minute mark of the last quarter the Crows led by 20 points. A flurry of celebratory text messages from family in Adelaide sent ripples of fear from my toes to my brain. Buttocks tightly clenched I willed my boys to hang on. Think clearly. Be smart. Don’t do anything stupid!

 

What happened after that was scandalous – an offence against morality.

 

Port reeled off four consecutive goals, including one from Angus Monfries that corrupted the laws of physics. The ball had no right to do what it did. The sudden change in direction was supernatural. Sinister. It could only be punishment for the Kurt Tippett affair. There was no other explanation.

 

A bobbing ball with a grotesque face and a demonic laugh will haunt me forever. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Fuck.

 

With 28 seconds on the clock Wingard sealed Port’s win with a strong overhead pack mark and his fifth goal.

 

Fuck the rotten mango too.

 

In my semi-coherent state in the foetal position on the floor I heard the murmurings of commentators. It was the first time a Showdown had been decided by less than a goal. Port was two games clear of Carlton in eighth position and a step closer to its first finals campaign since 2007.  Port now led Showdowns 19-16. Wingard was the Showdown medallist. It was arguably the greatest Showdown ever played. The Crows were 13th and four games and percentage out of the eight.  And they went on.

 

Oblivious to his mother’s pain Francis kept reading on his mat.

 

Olga The Brolga had never looked so enticing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnote

*One of the lesser talked about positives of having a baby and breastfeeding is when you return to drinking you get drunk quicker.

 

 

 

 

ADELAIDE                         3.2   5.6    12.10    15.13    (103)

PORT ADELAIDE            2.1   9.3    11.4      17.5       (107)                  

        

GOALS

 

Adelaide: Dangerfield 4, Johnston 4, Wright 2, Petrenko 2, Grigg, Brown, Henderson

 

Port Adelaide: Wingard 5, Hartlett 3, Gray 3, Schulz 2, Monfries 2, Butcher, Colquhoun

 

BEST

 

 

Adelaide: Crouch, Dangerfield, Johnston , Grigg, Vince

 

Port Adelaide: Wingard, Boak, Hartlett, Gray, Cornes, Schulz

 

 

Umpires: Stewart, Ryan, Jeffery

 

Official crowd: 43,368

 

Our Votes: 3 Wingard (Port) 2 Crouch (Adelaide) 1 Boak (Port)

Comments

  1. Angela

    I can’t stand Adelaide but you had me feeling for you in the article. Really really funny, awesome images.

    Wonder what Olga the Brolga sounds like read to a kid between clenched teeth and half cut on red.

    Rational Adelaide supporters, nice line. Please write (a lot) more Angela

    Sean

  2. Ben Footner says:

    Great read Angela. I feel your pain. That one hurt real bad – as bad as the first did. I guess it makes it a fitting finish to Footy Park Showdowns. I think I even misted up a bit after the final siren, it all got a bit much for me for a few minutes.

    Last year the footy gods loved us, this year they despise us. Perhaps your right about it being payback for the Tippett affair.

    PS – I love the ‘All the way with LJ’ slogan, send that one to the cheersquad. lol

  3. e.regnans says:

    That’s a beauty, Angela.
    I’ve a feeling that that moment of recognition (“find a portal back to university life or redefine what happiness means to me”) is one commonly felt; not often discussed.
    Brilliant.
    And the shedding of hopes and aspirations… wouldn’t it be an interesting evening for us each to spend it with our 19-year-old selves?

  4. Neil Anderson says:

    Is that bundle of gorgeousness at your feet the reason you haven’t been on the telly lately?
    Handy drinking tip at the finish but doesn’t help us blokes much, but we’ll give it a try.
    Great piece of writing about the angst of a true footy fan, hiding behind the door, hoping your team isn’t crashing and burning as you put a load of washing on.
    We’ve talked a lot about footy gods at the Almanac but on the weekend there must have been a convention at Mount Olympus. After all the ‘house-keeping’ and boring speeches, the boys were ready to play and let rip with a couple of beauties!
    One of them was at the Bulldogs/Swans match with the ball not only bouncing at right angles but half way up the goal-post as well. The Dogs were shot then anyway but your guys were still hanging on at the time of the Monfries goal.
    Don’t you just hate it when an average player from another club, playing for the enemy, bobs up and ruins your day. Josh Hill has done it a few times against his old club the Bulldogs.

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Ange,

    those Fates can be cruel. Byron knew that. Was it a rotten mango that killed him?

  6. mickey randall says:

    Enjoyed your report Angela. Well, as a Crows supporter, not really, but how you found humour in the horror. Lots of nice lines. At least, as a good ordinary footballer, Monfries now has his moment. The one he can milk for the rest of his life.

  7. Andrew Starkie says:

    Angela, great piece. Have just watched highlights on AFL site. Monfries’ right angle was pure cruelty. The Gods can he nasty sometiems.

    All that said, no offence, but tell someone who cares. I’m a Roo and haven’t forgotten 98 and our fadeout to your lot earlier this year still wakes me up at night. Liked your line about Francis understanding one day. My 1 year old was signed up at Arden St before she was baptised. I hope she doesn’t hate me for it one day.

  8. “I’ll have what she’s having” (except for the result).
    Brilliant Angela. Your Crows might be languishing, but you are in the Top 4 Almanac match reports of the season. Funny, frank and fruit!

  9. Roseann Testagrossa says:

    Great piece Angela. Felt your pain as I shared it. Still think Showdown I was the best though, with Mods kicking 7 sausage rolls. Hopefully a new venue in the Oval will improve the Showdown battle numbers in the Crows favour next year, with Tex kicking 7. I blame Lord Voldemort too. KT is to blame for everything. Such an ugly ..,,, Was good listening to you at the Crows Lunch in June. Looking forward to your next Crows report. Cheers, Roseann Testagrossa

  10. ramondobb says:

    Gripping stuff Angela. As a Pies fanatic, I’m glad it wasn’t the footy gods conspiring against us as we seem to think they do far too often. Not that its any consolation, but don’t think of it as the footy gods against the Crows, think of it more in relation to them trying to keep Mick’s Blues out of the final eight!

    PS. We miss you as MC at the Collingwood lunches!

  11. Thanks for the comments – I still haven’t recovered from the Monfries goal. I may never recover.

  12. Peter Schumacher says:

    I have to resort to the “Good Book” here and I refer to Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Everything is meaningless, “says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” This will be absolutely the case if Port stuff it up and let Carlton back into the eight and would also be particularly relevant when thinking about the Crows loss in the first place or the Monfries offbreak.

    Have to say that I agree with the view that you must be missed if you are no longer the MC of the Collingwood lunches but for me this more relates to the ABC no longer having a decent sports presenter or any sports presenter for that matter as part of the format of the 7 pm news. Stupid bloody ABC. You ARE missed!

  13. Stan the Man says:

    Yiassou Angela, brilliant read. Mitch Grigg will be a gun in seasons to come. His grandfather (Ian Abrahams) played League footy for Woodville after coming across from WA I think. He is the second youngest to play League footy for Norwood (only the little champ Jamie Aish taking that mantle last year). Crows mids are looking good with young ‘uns Crouch, Grigg and Laird etc …..and “Rodney” Dangerfield of course.

  14. Yes Peter the whole ABC Sports Presenter situation was a sad affair- Perhaps one day they’ll go back to the old format.

    There is definitely the need for an evening sports chat show. I really hope someone comes up with one and I’m a part of it! Stay tuned…

    I’ve done a couple of Collingwood lunches Ramon but those jobs have been few and far between this year. I’ll probably get a gig or two during the finals.

  15. Brilliant piece, Ange. I almostforgot about ’97 and ’98 and felt sympathy as I read that. And be glad – the Crows can still make the eight! Even without the help of an Essendon demise via points loss.

  16. Thanks Gigs – love how you almost felt sympathy. You’ll be pleased to know Francis is still wearing his Bulldogs beanie.

  17. Ange, the ongoing developments with Francis and that beanie are very exciting! Perhaps dual-supportership could be an option.

  18. Emma Rene says:

    BEAUTIFUL read, Angela. It’s heartening to see that there are others who want to hang on to Adelaide’s hope for this season, despite it defying the laws of mathematics (and really, who has a care for those laws?).
    A Swans fan myself, my boyfriend is a Crow through-and-through, and somewhere in the last 3 months I fell in love with his team as well. They will never occupy the place in my heart reserved for my Swans but there’s something really likeable about their boys – how they go about their footy, and how they keep on pushing for those wins regardless of how desolate the season is looking. And frustrating too! I caught the second half of the Crows-Pies game and was almost in furious tears by the end because you could see they were better than that.

    All the best for the rest of this season, and hopefully the Crows can match it with my Swans in nextyear’s finals series (and that the Red and White holds out!).

  19. Emma – you like the Crows because of the Geelong influence – Sando, Dasher. The Crows would be lost without them.

  20. Emma Rene says:

    Ahahahaha – never been swayed by Geelong. They’re an honourable team, but don’t have any particular hold for me. It’s nice seeing Lewis Johnston find his wings, actually, after leaving the Swans.
    The Crows would not be lost! They would simply strive to draw leadership and determination from other corners! But I suppose I can’t negate what impact the ex-Geelong players have haha.
    All I know is that what I witnessed (albeit via a television screen) on Sunday was utterly unfair, and that my own disappointment with the end result was only compounded by seeing how disheartened my boyfriend was.

  21. Thanks Emma – you clearly have good taste in men! Good luck for the rest of the season.

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