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Round 22 – Adelaide v Sydney: With apologies to the neighbours

 

Watching your team at home alone on the TV is not a healthy pastime. Every play should be a free kick to your boys, the umpires are dodgy (and conspiring against you), the opposition are dirty dogs and the opposition crowd an uneducated rabble. Speaking to yourself, language deteriorates and volume increases if it’s not going your team’s way. Objects fly around the room. There is no one to provide balance or reason; everything is viewed through a prism of one red eye and one white eye.

 

All week I’d been thinking of heading to the Rising Sun Hotel in South Melbourne to watch this game between the Swans and Crows.  The last time I’d been there was coincidentally for the game against the Crows in last year’s semi-final, where we had a resounding win at home at the SCG. The atmosphere at the Riser is not unlike my lounge-room, just magnified by hundreds of Bloods supporters viewing the game through a prism of one red eye and one white eye; no one to provide balance or reason.

 

However, the weather is foul and I don’t fancy driving across town. I am just home from an MCC lunch with guest Dermott Brereton. Barry Mitchell is in the crowd and I take the chance to have a chat to a former Swans champ. It’s a shame his boy Tom is no longer with us at the Swans.

 

Anyway I decide to stay in for the game. Half way through the second term I am quite sanguine. Our lead has extended to 29 points. Joey has returned from a few weeks R&R and is leading a mid-field that is smashing the opposition. Buddy already has a couple against rookie ex-cricketer Alex Keath, and other goals are spread as a result of general team pressure.

 

Just when I’m getting comfy and dreaming of a big win, the tide turns. The Crows gun Sloane has lifts and the likes of M. Crouch wrest control around the stoppages.  They pull back three goals in a row and go in at the main break just 8 points down. Game on!

 

The Crows goal from the first play in the third quarter, and are within a few points. They seem to be gaining control. The ball is held in their forward zone for periods, they miss some chances and we absorb the pressure, though they goal again and take the lead. My pressure levels are rising.

 

We need some brilliance to get back into the game. Enter Buddy Franklin. He comes from somewhere near the Pie Stall in the Bradman Stand, takes a pass on the defensive side of the wing and takes off. No one is immediately in front of him. Talia trails unable to keep up, just like Hooker on the MCG a number of years ago. His second bounce goes astray; Buddy still has time to gather, assess options to centre the ball then instead drill it home from 45m out on a severe angle. The neighbours will have heard my roar. Buddy brilliant!

 

The Crows surge again, though I start to notice that every time they go for the ball they seem to get a free. Most are probably deserved, though there are a couple of clangers, and we can’t seem to buy a decision from the umps. I shoot off my first text of the evening to my brothers and a mate: ‘Any chance of a bloody free?’ The free kick count gets out to 24-8 at its worst.  Hometown influence? They must be peeling the paint off the walls at The Riser.

 

Buddy’s brilliance comes to the fore again when the ball bounces high around 70m out at centre half forward and rather than gather he cleverly palms the ball to Rohan running by who drills another beauty. The Crows goal, then three Swans have to mug a Crow in the centre to get a holding the ball call; the resultant pass to Reid delivers another goal.  We are striking on the rebound and hanging on to a lead. We go to the last break 11 points up.

 

The Crows dominate the first part of the last quarter. Three unanswered goals give them a handy lead. They again miss some chances to ice the game. A late bump from Jones in a marking contest results in a report. We look like we might be done. We hang in though and the young guns, Jones, Mills and Heeney are doing their bit. Finally we get a lucky break and a 50m penalty, when it looks like Millsy has played on after a fine intercept mark. Mills kick finds Reid, who kicks truly from 45m out.  We are within a kick with 5 minutes to go.

 

The Crows surge, we absorb some more pressure; Rampe, Smith and co have again been superb down back. Rampe intercepts and drives the ball forward, it falls to young Paps who takes off, crosses the 50m line with a few bounces and kicks truly. Paps is a gem!

 

We are in front with 4 minutes to play. We seem to have learnt from previous close losses, absorb more pressure, scratch and scrap and kill the last few minutes. What a memorable victory!

 

My house has survived with no major mishaps. The virtual debrief starts with text messages about free kicks, whether Jones will be suspended, best players and of course Buddy. What a champion! And even a bit of analysis: ‘how did we win?’  Skill, determination, old fashioned guts…and a slice of luck.

 

At 0-6 many were talking to their travel agents to book September holidays. Our recovery has been at the extreme end of even my most optimistic expectations. We are in the finals and the only trips I’ll be taking are up to Sydney to support our Blood Brothers, or perhaps across town to The Riser to experience that rarefied atmosphere. Go Bloods!

 

Our Votes: 3 Sloane, 2 Kennedy, 1 Franklin.

 

 

About Keiran Croker

Keiran is a lifelong Swans supporter, despite a brief dalliance with the Cats and Tigers in primary school years. Family connections to Port Melbourne and South Melbourne demanded loyalty to the Swans. The long wait for success was worth it.

Comments

  1. Great, wasn’t it Keiran! Being there was even better.

    Trying not to speculate too much about the next 5-6 weeks!

    Cheer cheer

  2. Tom Bally says:

    I unfortunately talked to my travel agent long before 0-6. Ironically at the time I said ‘I bet we win the lot…’

    Games like this are best watched in the safety of ones house. The swear jar gets a good workout.

  3. Love that opening paragraph!

  4. Ben Footner says:

    Adelaide were in total control of that game mid way through the third and I must admit it felt confident we’d kick away from that point.

    Buddy Franklin had other ideas. Kick one beauty and have a hand in another, and all of a sudden the momentum evaporated.

  5. Stainless says:

    From a neutral perspective it was a fascinating result, raising a few issues.
    Adelaide supporters must be filthy at throwing away the chance to consign Sydney to the bottom half of the eight. It would be easy to pot them for choking in yet another big game but I actually don’t think they did. Rather, it was a case of Sydney, with much more to play for, storming out of the blocks and the Crows waking up at quarter time and having to play catch-up. Even with home ground advantage and an armchair ride from the umpires (apart from “that decision”), you don’t concede five goal leads to this hydra of a team and expect to win, especially missing some of the chances they did.
    Oh and how the Crows must wish they had a great negating defender like Alex Rance who routinely makes Franklin look ordinary :)
    That said, I still maintain the Crows have played by far the best footy of any side this year and I expect them to beat the Swans comfortably if there’s a repeat match in a couple of weeks.

  6. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great work Kieran. Your opening line, minus the word ‘alone’, is a sentence I’ve uttered to my wife many times.

  7. Keiran Croker says:

    I think the Crows, Giants & Swans are the ones who can win the big one. I’m confident the Swans will play well against whoever they play and wherever it may be. Though GFs are hard to get to and even harder to win, so who knows! Lets enjoy the contest!

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