In a world where Australian Rules Football can be played in a fully enclosed stadium – only a few brave souls, 1900 to be almost precise, brave their way through the sheeting Norwood rain to shiver in the stands. The braver take up meagre shelter offered by umbrellas or the awnings of the bars. The only thing warm at the ground is the recent rivalry between the Redlegs and the Bulldogs. With the elder statesman back from his European sojourn, telling stories of 24 hour Norwegian sun and 20 degree days within the arctic circle, even the clan Brown seeks cover in the Southern stand.
In a country where a man can pop down to the food vendors under the stand and witness John Platten inhaling a sausage roll – tonight is the sort of night for the rat – he still has the hair for it too. We are thankful for the warming effects of the sponsors’ various products, particularly the Barossa shiraz. The elder statesman tells us of the light reds sampled in a sun drenched Provencal winery just a few days ago – just as well we are so fond of him.
In a state where in days of yore the Centrals brand of accountable, tough footy might be irresistible on a night like this – the brother of Delta kicks the Dogs’ first within a minute but they do not score again for the quarter. The Redlegs muscle the ball forward but cannot hit the hands or chests of the keys. The undersized Bulldog defence are double teaming Liam Davis at full forward. Two points on the board at quarter time is not a surprising return.
In a city where I mention that grown men reminisce about their old woollen footy jumpers on a website full of top content – the elder statesman reveals he still has two in his cupboard: his Central Augusta Bloods and his Adelaide Uni Blacks jumpers from the 1960s. The next challenge will be to get him to write about them. No doubt there’s a cracking story or two in those jumpers – some even fit for public consumption.
In the land of the blind the man with one eye is king. In the land of the rain the team that drops the ball less reigns. Centrals consistently drop the footy in the second quarter while Panos, McGuinness and Chippendale set up a wall across the centre line. Juice Newton smuggles a dry ball onto the ground and kicks three for the quarter as the Redlegs take control – 32 to 8 at half time.
In a town where football draws people from all walks of life to the game – an excitable man nearby gives us constant score updates from the Geelong / Bombers game from his little tranny radio. He seems more interested in that than the game in front of him. Goals are traded in the third as Baulderstone and Dawe get even more on top in the ruck. The umpires appear to have implemented a possession arrow system where frees are awarded to each team in blocks. The most illuminating moment is when the rain comes down so heavily that the light hitting the rain drops significantly brightens the playing surface – Legs by 27. Meanwhile, out of a sense of nostalgia, a Centrals fan gets himself evicted from the near deserted hill.
In a stadium where the final AFL siren can be heard on his radio – the bloke cheers then gets up and goes home, oblivious to the game continuing in front of him. He’s happy, we smile. Panos and Phillips goals kill off whatever was left of the contest and Norwood take the muddy foot off the pedal. Running out comfortable 28 point winners is a fitting result – a performance of character, worthy of a premiership contender. The elder statesman is happy on his return to the country to find the Legs in a much better state than when he left them.
As the Dogs drop to 4-8 this further solidifies my thinking that their game plan doesn’t consistently cut it in the age of an effective forward press. Centrals were not able to create the overlap in transition that they are so heavily reliant upon and Norwood’s loose man at centre half back was able to cut off many attacks.
Panos best on ground while Norwood’s ruck combination smashed another opponent – that old adage about the tall guys not getting any shorter was certainly true tonight. No walk across the ground this evening as it has been occupied by a bearded fellow with a whole heap of lumber who seems rather keen on building a boat. What’s a cubit?
Norwood 8.11 – 59 d. Central Districts 4.7 – 31
Weekend’s other result – Unley Oval – Port Adelaide 12.11- 85 d Sturt 8.15 – 63
Sturt missed an opportunity to bring Port Adelaide back to the pack in the top of the table game. Port now two games clear while Sturt will need to scrap with Norwood and the Eagles for the double chance.