Grand Final – Adelaide v Richmond: A Week Effort

 

Sometime early 1999

“… and our coach is called Blighty. He is a great man and he’ll be there forever. Don’t you worry, we’ve only been in since 1991 and we’ve already won the last two Grand Finals. We’ll be in the next ten and I’ll take you to each of them”

 

I’ve still got that t-shirt. I was hoping to get a new one this weekend.

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It’s been a funny old week. I started out as anonymous, was briefly synonymous with the Crows and at its end, I found myself uncharacteristically magnanimous to the victors.

 

Being voluntarily temporarily jobless, I’d avoided the GF week hum of the big smoke. I’d also chosen to also avoid much of the local media and I rarely consume much of SA’s one-sided drivel either.

 

My inner showgan got a run earlier in the week, trekking out to Ascot Vale to kill a few hours and far more dollars. My companion for life and I contemplated existence from the CWA grandstand as I harked back briefly to the Sunday morning highlights of the Melbourne trots from the Showgrounds, while we gourmandised on faux German sausages in bread at $11 a pop.

 

We made our ritualistic tour of the arts and crafts hall. The cakes and preserves were dominated by Janet and Marjorie, who seemed to have entered in every possible section. I wondered if this was the continuation of a long term thing between these two age-old rivals. Did they know each other? Were they estranged sisters, locked in a bitter buttery battle over the rights to their grandmother’s lemon slice recipe? In a nod to the 21st century, I also saw that one of the available categories for the youngsters was Best 3D Printing. I think Janet’s grand-niece may have won the Encouragement Award – Robots in the Advanced Acrylic Artistry section.

 

After shelling out for a few plastic bags full of sugary stuff for our old enough to vote kids, I had more than slight pangs of regret that I’ll never again recreate the fear that I felt at Wayville in 1975 when Bucko and I set the world record for continuous backward revolutions on the Zipper, as we left the racecourse carpark.

 

 

I’d known since Monday where my Grand Final seat was situated, amidships in the Olympic Stand. Daughters #1 and #3 would also be there on Saturday, but in a catering capacity, rather than sitting alongside me. #1 was with me in 1998, number #3 is my regular game day offsider. So we were all going at least.

 

The Wednesday trip to the nearest ticket outlet, a bayside suburban newsagent (the last one in captivity), to pick up my actual printed ticket was the first tangible sign that Adelaide was really there. But I still hadn’t felt any real sense of connection or expectation. I didn’t go across for the first two Adelaide finals, keeping my powder dry for the big one. Did I really care? Or did I not want to care too much?

 

 

Later that evening, I was pinged by the in-the-news-a-lot-lately John Carr, letting me know that he and his daughter Molly had awarded me Spooneriser of the Year on their @dadandmog Footy Pod. I was pickled tink. John interviewed me for the podcast the next day, where I proceeded to trample all over the bits that he had prerecorded, but it seemed to come out ok.

 

 

Friday was the Almanac Grand Final Lunch, where my date was #3. I was pleased to be seated at a table with fellow ex-AUFC Blacks BD, Handbag, Flounder and Plug, but I wasn’t expecting to be up on stage being interviewed by JTH as a representative of my native state, expounding on the arcane recreation of Sheaf Tossing. I helped establish a pretty low bar for the day’s remaining talent to overcome, unlike my World Record holding ancestors.

 

At the lunch’s end, I was totally unprepared to be on lead vocals for the traditional competing teams’ rendition of their club song, with Matthew Clarke’s folks in support. I must apologise to Doc, Barnesy and G Shorrock for failing to uphold Elizabeth’s reputation as the OzRock capital of Oz as the denizens of the Tiger Lounge blew us off stage. Pride (of South Australia) comes before a fall, I should have noted.

 

 

Even when I arrived back home on Grand Final Eve, to that point I was largely unfussed about the Grand Final. After dinner (or “tea” as we Croweaters might prefer), I started to prepare for the next day.

 

Without warning, I was eleven years old again (or maybe thirty eight), as I pinned my old school Crows team badges onto my scarf along with the Scott Lee and Andrew McLeod ones that hadn’t seen daylight for decades. My 1998 Premiership cap, a tasteful denim number festooned with membership badges of that era, was fished out, a contrast to my more recent version.

 

Not having any apricot slice at hand, I had to make do with a couple of muesli bars instead. Bag packed and early to bed. I was really starting to care after all.

 

 

I was in early to the ‘G for my now traditional (i.e. third) visit to the Coodabeens outside broadcast. I got a wave from Billy and Andy and jockeyed for an early position. To my left was ex SANFL field umpire Darryl Schramm, who I’d met at the previous days’ lunch. Small world. Once the show started, Covey picked me out from the crowd (OK, I’ll admit, I may have waved my scarf first) and interviewed me on the Crows chances (and also my singing efforts at the Almanac lunch, thanks to Luke Reynolds’ tweet). I somehow managed to include Matthew Clarke in the Crows’ centre square setup, but at least I got away with saying “up the guts!” on the ABC.

 

Mickey Randall pinged me mid-show with the news that I’d been mentioned in the Adelaide Advertiser regarding one of my Almanac pieces in a magazine piece that attempted to channel the SANFL 80s into today’s proceedings. Where will all this giddy publicity end, I thought?

 

About there actually.

 

 

I grabbed my seat, which was a fairly good one, with the bonus of being on the end of the row but not on an aisle. Manspread heaven. It seemed to be a Crows-only bay, although behind us were some Richmond supporters. My neighbour was from Hope Valley, but I correctly formed the impression that he was going to see the game through one eye only.

 

The retiring players went around but I had trouble picking out who was who, although I did leave my seat to send off Scott Thompson (without the customary abuse that I often levelled at him during his slower days).

 

 

When The Killers came on, I kicked into musical curmudgeon immediately, misreading the mood of virtually everyone else in the crowd of 100,021, who had perhaps heard more than one of their songs, unlike this old coot. I’d be happier with an Ed Kuepper/Billy Bragg/Lindy Morrison trio myself, which just goes to show how out of touch the AFL is with its core demographic (57 year old blokes wearing Levi’s 504s and a Crows bomber jacket from 1994 who spent the earlier part of the day listening to even older blokes singing footy songs, i.e. me).

 

My final missive into the electronic atmosphere was a non-denominational “Go Footy”, before the bounce.

 

 

Everything was going swimmingly in the first quarter as we smugly waited for the game to play out according to our pre-match favouritism. Eddie Betts panicked Vlastuin into error for a walk in goal after Sloane opened the scoring. At the other end, Jack Riewoldt couldn’t thread the major uprights despite fashioning multiple opportunities. Our best player for the day, Sauce Jacobs shoved one down Hugh Greenwood’s grateful gullet at a near goal square stoppage, and geez we were cocky.

 

Come the second quarter, my neighbour was bleating about the umps on every occasion and the Richmond guy behind us was giving him a lecture about how “It’s finals mate, ya can’t be expecting those”. When Lever senselessly but harmlessly grabbed a tuft of Townsend fluro, and we went berko, RGB proclaimed “Ya can’t complain about that. It was always a free”, while saying nothing about the arm-lock placed on Betts in the goal square moments later. I wisely decided to shut my gob from that point, no point arguing with logic like that. The Tiges kept us goalless, snagging four of their own but we were still in touch. Out of sorts, but still in touch.

 

I wasn’t overly concerned at half-time. Sure, our forwards weren’t giving a yelp and we were overly fumbly, while Richmond were playing with composure and desire, but having witnessed our comeback against Collingwood in Round 19, I felt that we were still in with a chance.

 

I was wrong.

 

Cripes we were feeble. Were made to be feeble by Richmond’s relentless suffocation. The annoying thing to the spud in the stands (me) was that this was entirely predictable. Richmond played exactly how they have been playing since Hardwick restructured their game style. Adelaide’s Plan A may still have been the correct plan to get them this far, but my inner fear that some teams had worked them out was now being played right in front of me.

 

Next years’ Ken Farmer Medalist, Josh Jenkins failed to impose himself on a single contest. Adelaide had a chance to sneak back mid-way through the third quarter, but Jenkins, Atkins and Mackay (playing hopefully his last senior game for the Crows) all coughed up chances and we were gone.

 

The last quarter was party time for the Tiges. I left them to it.

 

Richmond deserved the win. Not because of their thirty seven years of sustained mediocrity or because their fans stuck by them through thick and thin (and they’ve got some ripping fans, let me tell you). But because they were the best team on the day on the last day in September. End of story. But there is a lot that goes on off the field that allows a club to get that far. Decisions. Educated decisions and gambles. Holding their collective nerve. Seeing off rebel board nominees. A coach looking inwards. Recasting the assistant coaching team. Neil Balme. (Not forgetting that they had a four game losing streak from Rounds 6-9 this season, which hasn’t happened to an eventual premier this century).

 

How do I feel? Predictably empty, but I’m not mad or angry. The players owe me nothing, but they owe each other and the coach plenty. Sure, the Crows have overcome huge adversity to get this far, but I think it’s time we looked forward not backward. I’d appoint Rory Sloane as captain, but what do I know.

 

The Crows’ response will be intriguing. Do we just need a tweak, or a rocket? Geez, I’m thinking about next year already.

 

“Go Footy” indeed.

 

I might burn that Back-to-Back t-shirt too.

 

 

More 2017 Grand Final coverage here

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right

Comments

  1. Bad luck Swish. The Tigers mauled the Crows after quarter time. So much for the pre-game steely stare! Agree that Sloane should be your captain. Tex is all moustache and no go. Thought your coach was comprehensively out-gunned too. He coached like a stodgy back pocket player (not unlike ours!).

  2. Spooneriser of the Year? Congrats. I can see you doing an excellent Ronnie Barker.
    Self deprecating and witty to the end. Much like your Crows.
    Has Rulebook claimed Neil Balme’s involvement as a defacto Redlegs flag yet? (“We taught him all he knows – bugger Tommy Hafey”).
    Loved the Ken Farmer Medalist line. Trade bait for Tippett?
    Eddie bursting through the 50 and ………….looking for someone to dish it off to? The Hall of Mirrors will be chockas at the Royal Show this year.
    Still there’s 16 teams who wish we were as bad as you.
    You must be the Oldest Apprentice ever at Almanac Enterprises. Since me. Good luck on the job front. Perhaps #1 and #3 could put in a good word.

  3. Congratulations, I still have that t-shirt, and the grey on from the year before. A space on the shelf for the next one too. Missed by THAT much!

  4. John Butler says

    Commiserations Swish.

    A real Josh Jenkins of a day for you.

    There’s always the Ashes.

    Cheers

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Bad luck Swish,
    You were happy in the haze…
    It will pass, eventually.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Dips. Leaping Leo Dalton greeted me from a rooftop bar when I got off at Ormond Station after the game. I politely declined his offer to help drown my sorrows. I’d probably still be there if I hadn’t.

    Onya PB – you’re a smart feller

    Hey Woof, I’ve still got the grey one too. Time for them both to go I reckon.

    Ta JB – maybe some new entries into the Macquarie lexicon under Jenkins and Walker coming up

    Hope so Phil. We just haven’t earned it yet, baby…

  7. Matt Zurbo says

    Swish, what a great piece. Thoughtful, not shouting, wise. I really, really enjoyed it. And am as jealous as all hell you got to hang with the Coodas! I worship them, but don’t get their show down here in southern Tassie. We done mate.

  8. Leo Dalton says

    Swish, you were looking a bit shattered and I thought a few frothies on top at Ormond would have cheered you up. Dips’ older brother was up there with me and we would have accommodated a few beers for you. Loved the story, sorry the match didn’t go your way. Next year perhaps.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Wow thanks Matt, that’s like getting the thumbs up from Blighty himself.

    I’m surprised that you remembered Leo, you were a few beers into what must have been a way better afternoon than mine. Thanks again for the offer.

  10. Andrew Fithyall says

    Swish – Excellent report. As a television viewer I reckon the pre-game entertainment The Killers were as good as the AFL has staged for a long time. But if you want some Ed Kuepper, join me at The Caravan Music Club in Oakleigh mid-November for The Aints playing The Saints. I can guarantee that as a 57 year old you will not be the oldest there.

    AF

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Ha Andrew, I’ve already bought my ticket. See you there.

  12. Anna Brown says

    Doesn’t matter how many goals he kicks, having to watch Josh Jenkins play just because I’m a crows supporter makes me angry, every..single..’week’

  13. Andrew Fithyall says

    That is hilarious. See you there. I may even shout you a commiseratory Coopers.

  14. John Butler says

    I presume that’s the Artist Formerly Known As Fithall?

    Fithyall? Is that y’all new country and western persona?

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    You may not have to worry about that next year Anna. He never seemed to recover from his rib-tickling against the Hawks in Rd 2

  16. My condolences, Swish.
    And well done for taking it with such good grace.

  17. At the end of the day, it is only a bloody game, it is not the end of the world and the crows will come back again strong next year and sometimes you need the pain of this year to motivate for next year, that pain will drive the crows for next year I am certain. They may be unstoppable next year, maybe..

  18. Joe De Petro says

    Great piece, Swish. I’d make Sloane the captain too. He was superb. I’d also sack whoever decided a jack Graham wasn’t worth a pick before 53. He had the pedigree.

    All the best for your tee shirt hunt next season.

  19. Luke Reynolds says

    Swish, congratulations on your spooneriser of the year award. But, would you swap it for the premiership?

    That was my most popular tweet for a long time. Might need to add @swishtter to tweets more often.
    Nice work on the Coodabeens too. Pity about the rest of the day.

    Great piece, sadly not the one you wanted to write.

  20. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks Smokie, I’m past anger and on to acceptance. I’ve made acquaintance with quite a few corker Tigers types in recent years and I’m very happy for them, but it’s a bit like having your neighbours win Tatts, I’d rather it was us.

    Agree with a lot of what you say Paul, I hope you are right about next year, but something better change.

    Ta Joe. Your bloke Francis Jackson has taken a lot of stick in the past. I’ve met him on a few occasions and he is a lovely bloke, who I suspect is smiling right now.

    Good on you Luke for catapulting me into on-line fame with your ripping tweet. Thanks again.

  21. Well played,Swish I admit I didn’t watch the game my anger re the hypocrisy of the afl in letting,Cotchin off might subside by the next millennium.When Jenkins got the long term contract extension over the lions desire for his services I felt at the time it was a panic move to satisfy the masses having lost,Dangerfield it was felt we couldn’t lose any more other stars ( cough cough ) so close together unfortunately I have been proven to be correct decisions like that have other results in who a club can retain or recruit obviously a bitterly disappointing result.PB Balmey is the best thing to happen to tiger land in quite a while and a huge part of the result

  22. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Swish, losing GF’s is a bit of a St Kilda thing, we have done it 5 times since 66. Losing 3 in a row was the worse. Still hurts. Happy for Richmond who I was backing because of the fairytale and Nick R’s cuz. But completely identified with the shattered players and supporters of the Crows. There’s nothing like reaching the peak of hope only to fall down the mountain and break up in bits.

    Recover well and drink from the well of hope and delusion, and a beer if that’s not enough. Lovely read.

  23. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks ‘Book. It’s gonna be a long summer and an interesting next month. Who’s gonna step up next year?

    I hear you Yvette, and I’d rather be in my position than yours. Appreciate your kind words.

  24. i am, saving the replay for when I get back from NZ, but it seemed to me the Crows’ assault on Nankervis only fired him and the Tigers up? Townsend did more actual brutalising with that tackle than all that phony sledging of a ruckman trier?

    there was also the chatter on 7 at halftime that the Tiges walked in remarking about the schemozzle and lack of cohesion onfield of the Crows, negative chatter among teammates etc? can anyone confirm?

  25. No chance you jinxed them by putting the A. McLeod badge next to the Tyson Edwards one on your scarf?

  26. Dave Brown says

    Hope you become the centre of footy attention some time in the near future again, Swish. There’s plenty of blame to spread about when you lose contested ball by 30 and I’m not sure what a coach can do when his players are that uncompetitive. But Crows are still the best club around at the moment. Three team trophies in the AFL and the Crows won two of them and came second in the other. Holding of nerve so important in footy.

  27. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    PW – schemozzle it was

    Bucko – Team Bunji in my house

    I can read between those lines Dave. Very fine line between holding your nerve and imploding, as demonstrated by Richmond over the past year (and the preceding thirty six).

    Surely the coach has to take some responsibility for the contested ball disparity etc, after all, “it’s Don’s team now”. He was veering into Buckley territory after the game. Maybe there was a difference between his public and his private response, let’s hope so.

    Saturday’s performance was totally unacceptable. The benchmark shouldn’t be how good you are, but how good you should be. I’m observing the response with interest.

  28. Terrific account of the week Swish. You did not set the bar low at all at the lunch. Having a Deutsche name and being a descendant of champion sheaf-tossers meant you had the audience in the palm of your hand. It was better than chicken salt.

    I like the lunch because everyone there is an enthusiast. For many things.

    Thanks for the chat on stage and this account.

  29. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    That’s really appreciated John.

    As an aside, #1 Daughter was asked by a visiting Crow “where’s the chicken salt?” at her catering outlet.

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