AFL Round 22: The only thing worse than a humiliating Carlton defeat is the feedback from cocky Crows supporters who’ve ventured across the border

The incomparable element of Round 22 is the excitement surrounding the matches that will shape the finals series. The best example is final round of the 1987 season when Steve Kernahan’s wobbly helicopter punt after the siren against North Melbourne at Waverley gave the Blues top spot and of course the hysteria surrounding the Melbourne side as they broke through with a victory against the Bulldogs to reach the finals for the first time in 23 years, aided by a Jason Dunstall goal 75km down the highway against the Cats.

The introduction of the Super Saturday concept with the extra game resurrects that ‘Around The Grounds’ atmosphere that hasn’t occurred for at least a decade and I believe it suits the fixture and the idea should be considered for use when both the Gold Coast and Western Sydney teams enter the competition. This season-defining clash between Carlton and Adelaide will commence at the unfamiliar time of 4.10pm and it is clear that the football public are undeterred by the timeslot with another 40,000-plus crowd flocking into the sealed Docklands Stadium to witness who will earn a home final.

Like many at the ground I am listening intently to the radio on my mobile phone to what is occurring in the Hawthorn v Essendon clash at the MCG, as it will determine who we play next week if we prevail today over the Crows. As my Dad and I sit down in our usual seats we realise we are amongst a whole group of Adelaide supporters and judging by their conversations they have obviously made the trek from over the border.

“I hate this stadium, how is it world-class?” comes the cry from the South Australians behind me.

“It’s not like AAMI Stadium is any better, the only state-of-the-art feature it has is the LED (moving advertisements) signage,” I thought.

As was the case last week mant Blues fans including myself are sporting yellow shirts as part of a sponsorship deal which really gives us an indication of how commercial footy has become. The Blues themselves are predicted to struggle up forward with the absences of Eddie Betts and Jeff Garlett, leaving youngster Chris Yarran to cover at ground level. The Crows would have to be in their best form since they were crowned minor premiers in 2005, powered by the introduction of many youngsters and the returns of club stalwarts Brett Burton and Trent Hentschel in recent weeks.

In the opening minutes it is simply end to end football but neither side can convert a six pointer until Andrew walker’s scrappy kick bends back to give the Blues first blood almost 10 minutes in. Crows pin-up boy Chris Knights provides the quick reply before the Blues conduct a high-scoring rampage with the next 5 goals. One of majors came from Fev who effectively secured his second Coleman medal and possibly a spot in the All Australian team with a beautiful set shot that never looked like deviating off the boot. The Blues are victorious out of the middle thanks to many free kicks exposing the Adelaide taggers as the South Australian fans vent their frustrations.

‘Bloody VICTORIAN umpires!!!” comes the shout from behind me.

Once again Judd provides some space for his teammates in Gibbs, Murphy and Simpson to sprint through the centre and link up. Chris Yarran and Shaun Hampson, who were controversially brought into the team during the week, staked their claim for a spot in the team for the finals series, both excelling in their respective positions. Suddenly as the Blues appear to be grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck the Crows begin to control possession and run in numbers. The inexperienced Carlton defence had trouble containing the likes of Porplyzia and Tippett and as a result the Crows went BANG BANG BANG and by the first change are only five points down and a high-scoring shootout is on our hands.

Throughout the first quarter I am multi-tasking by eagerly listening to Triple M radio to hear the outcome of the match across town and I am disappointed with the result as the Hawks have surrendered a 5-goal lead to succumb to the Bombers, so a victory to the Blues forces a match-up with the Bombers who have recently had the wood on us.

However there is no need to think a victory in the second term as the Crows begin to pile on the goals. As the reliable left footer Kade Simpson boots his first major in the opening seconds of the term I predict another onslaught by the Blues but it turns out to be vice-versa. Jason Porplyzia takes a courageous mark and goals to commence the run. Youngster Paddy Dangerfield puts them in front and Bernie Vince, in the midst of the best game he has played in his career, slots through two in a minute to increase the margin to 26 points. Fev, having a classic tussle with Ben Rutten, keeps the Carlton hierarchy’s hopes alive with his second goal and by the main break the Crows hold a 20-point advantage.

Ever the optimist I am still confident the Blues can fight their way back in this shootout and provide a real contest however those hopes are dashed as the Crows continue on their merry way in the second half. Forward Trent Hentschel who was kept relatively quiet in the first half by Paul Bower began to rejuvanate himself and boots his first. From there the Crows youngsters such as Mackay, Symes, Tippett and Maric capitalise on shocking Carlton skill errors and deliver the footy with precision into the forward line and the margin blows out to 7 goals.

‘What’s the matter Fev? Ya’ getting too cold back there?’ yells the quintessential Adelaide fan.

Thankfully Fev silences the Adelaide faithful, well at least momentarily, with a stunning goal on the outside of the boot to bring up his fourth goal and give the Blues a slight glimmer of hope. However Brad Symes manufactures the quick reply to effectively snuff out Carlton’s chances of a home final. Just as it appears that the atmosphere has been sapped out of the game, the BIRDMAN soars through the clouds to take what must be the mark of the year by the length of the Flemington straight. Even I had to applaud. Burton’s huge speccie brings back vague memories of him at the peak of his powers in 1999 in which he used to take a speccie every week. By Three Quarter Time the Crows led by a lazy 51 points and it is now only a question of whether Carlton can restore some respectability.

The Blues open the term the better with Fev adding to his tally and the quiet Carrazzo boots his first to pull the margin back to seven goals. However the Crows are not prepared to just cruise through the quarter as they continue their high scoring rout with Burton and the new key forward in Tippett continue their good form. Amidst the goal kicking spree my Dad suggests we board the early train home and as Hentschel extends the margin with a goal at the 20 minute mark I willingly agree as we let the Adelaide fans enjoy yet another victory.

As I depart Etihad Stadium and wander through the pouring rain after what would be a 12 goal loss, I reflect on what has been a ground-breaking season for the Blues, one which has yielded 13 wins and a finals berth. Despite the fact that the Blues have to travel north of the Murray River up to the unseasonably warm Brisbane I am confident in a victory and hopefully I can witness the Blues performing as part of a big finals crowd in Melbourne in a fortnight’s time.

Carlton    7.2   10.5   12.6   16.8 (104)
Adelaide     6.3   13.7   20.11   27.14 (176)

Carlton: Fevola 5, Stevens 2, Walker, O’hAilpin, Hampson, Joseph, Simpson, Gibbs, Murphy, Carrazzo, Yarran
Adelaide: Porplyzia 4, Knights 4, Tippett 4, Vince 3, Dangerfield 2, Hentschel 2, Burton 2, McLeod, Goodwin, Mackay, Symes, Thompson, Sellar

Crowd: 42,356
My Votes:  3. B.Vince     2. C.Knights    1. A. McLeod

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.


  1. Nice work Damian.
    And they say Collingwood supporters are bad? :P


  2. Steve Healy says

    Very good Damian.

    Adelaide supporters in Melbourne are like that. I’ve had the same experience. In the Melb V Adel match in Round 5 this year, a family of Adelaide supporters sat in front of me in the Melbourne memebers’ area. Sounds like the broadcast wing wasn’t made up predominantely of Carlton supporters this week. ;)There are so many Adelaide supporters who come to games in Melbourne. It’s strange, because I don’t know any Adelaide supporters who actually live in Melbourne though.

    Incredible game. Obviously, it doesn’t concern me that Carlton lost by so much but it was so high scoring. I want to watch a replay of the game but I can’t because my internet’s slow. Burton’s mark was incredible. If John Harms made that blog about the top 5 marks of all time, then that could well be up there.

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