The Friday Night of Broken Dreams

Adelaide v St Kilda

AAMI Stadium, Fri 3 April 2009

by Richard Arrowsmith

Friday night.  First home game of the season.  And all the familiar faces, and sights, and smells, are there.

The friendly volunteers at the Seaton High oval are out in force, lined up in their hi-vis jackets and waving torches to guide the Commodore to a safe landing.  The Seaton Sharks sausage sizzle is in full swing.

I walk to the stadium with a spring in my step.  Last week we snuck past Collingwood in an enthralling game; this week we have the chance to back it up against another quality opponent, and get our season off to a flyer.

A celebratory beer is in order – especially since, at last, the SANFL has decreed that we can be trusted to safely consume the brew in our seats.  Welcome to the 21st century in Adelaide.  But that brings the first disillusionment of the night.  The only “beer” on offer – in Adelaide!  Home of Coopers! – is XXXX or Hahn Light.  It’s the nightmare of the Clipsal 500 all over again, only without the intellectual contribution of the XXX Angels.  Perhaps this is the AFL’s way of keeping the level of drinking down.

The familiar faces are there in the crowd.  This is AAMI, remember, where Crows members and their reserved seats have the half-life of a minor radioactive element.  We greet each other and some exchange stories of the past summer.  The bloke behind me has a story for his mate that involves being attacked by iced up teenagers.  The perps were caught, apparently, after another attack nearby when his DNA was found on them.  He wins the battle of the summer stories.  But he’s going to lose, I suspect, if he tries to live up to his brave promise to “take them down” another day.

Halfway through the first quarter, disillusionment #2 sets in.  Apparently the St Kilda coaching staff have watched last weeks Crows-Pies game.  And apparently they noticed Collingwood’s failure to man up and control the corridor.  And apparently they told their players about this.  And clearly the Saints players paid attention.

There is no room to move out there – none.  The Crows’ rugby-style handball chain just doesn’t work when every pass is a hospital pass.  Noone is willing to break the team rules and just kick it when they’ve got half a metre of space – everyone is looking for the pass to the bloke with 5 metres to run in, but he’s not there.  This is going to be tough.

Which brings us to disillusioning moment #3.  When an AFL player (yes, you, David Mackay) receives the ball on the wing and his first movement – his FIRST movement! is to look sideways and backwards before his eyes have even scanned the forward options, you know there’s a problem, and it’s the same problem – with confidence – that has plagued Crows teams in games like this before.

By now, less than 24 hours after the game, I expect there are peasants in the western provinces of China who will be able to predict disillusionment #4.  Yes, I really did have some faint hope that the umpiring would improve this year.  Instead, we saw a performance that hasn’t been matched at AAMI since a memorable Crows-Essendon game some years back, when the noise from the Members sent out a palpable wave of sound that pushed we Outer dwellers back in to our seats.

By the end of the game, the “19” on the big screen wasn’t a reminder to the crowd of their role as “19th Man”.  It was the free kick differential – 30-11 to the Saints.

I suppose the Cane Toads (which was the most polite of the terms thrown from the Outer) are hamstrung by the AFL Rules Committee.  To be fair, there were probably very few actual mistakes (by the letter of the rules) made by the umpires.  Perhaps the Rules Committee should be forced to sit in the Outer and discuss the logic behind pinging a player for HTB when he’s flat on his face with three opponents and two teammates on top of him.

Neil Craig was pretty much spot on in the post-match press conference.  At least in his assessment of how St Kilda won the game.  What was missing (#5, for those who are counting) was an explanation of how we’re going to get the points next time this happens to us.

Honestly Neil, I do understand what you mean when you say ‘that was an important learning experience for our players – they’ve been exposed to the level that they need to get to’.  But I understood it when you said it after every losing game last year, and the year before that.  By now I’d like to see the players getting to that level, and not just being exposed to it (read, creamed by it).

Still and all, I will keep the faith and go to the next game with hope.  Porp was great.  Tippett was great.  Walker is going to be great.  Vince is from wheat bag and silo country, and he can kick it a mile (Memo to Dwayne Russell: that’s not a surprising thing).  Now, if only we can get the ball down to them, and quickly.

Adelaide 2.2    5.3    9.8      10.9     (69)

St Kilda 4.2    6.7   10.7   15.11    (101)


Adelaide: Porplyzia 3, Tippett 3, Hentschel, Maric, Vince, Walker

St Kilda: Koschitzke 4, Schneider 2, Riewoldt 2, King, Ray, Montagna, Geary, Milne, Gardiner, Goddard


Adelaide: Porplyzia, Thompson, Johncock, Tippett, Edwards, Bock, Maric

St Kilda: Koschitzke, Montagna, Fisher, Dal Santo, Baker, Gram, Schneider


Adelaide: Hentschel (quad) (later revealed to be fluid buildup on the knee)

St Kilda: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: McBurney, Wenn, Ryan

Rules Committee: Not present, no apology.

Crowd: 41,189

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