AFL Round 4 – Adelaide v Carlton: Ticking boxes

Round 4, AAMI Stadium, Adelaide v Carlton, 17 April 2010

by Bernard Whimpress

‘Jesus ticks all the boxes.’

The message from the newish medium – illuminated rotating and revolving AAMI Stadium fence signage – occurred half way through the game and put me in mind of the story told of the early 1970s sign outside a Hawthorn (VIC) church that asked, ‘What would you do if Jesus came today?’ To which a graffitist replied, ‘Move Peter Hudson to centre-half-forward!’ Not betraying my source I commented to the distraught Crows supporter behind me, ‘Jesus would be useful for you in front of goal.’

It also reminded me of some lines I’d written in a poem about watching the Crows just over a decade ago:

A footy crowd

isn’t watching the Adelaide Crows

– an artificial construct –

my home town

rather than my home team.

This is not a footy crowd

this is fundamentalist religion,

this is positive affirmation,

this is feel good euphoria,

this is lets all go down the gurgler

and have a shit weekend together.

The other fundamentalist religion now pays to be there.

You’ll forgive me if I don’t have much to say about the game because whenever I go to West Lakes the play is always on the other side of the ground. However, for this fourth round clash between the Crows and Carlton I saw even less. The illuminated rotating revolving/revolting signage was so irritating on the eyes that I had to avert my gaze for half the game. In fact so irritating that I’m thinking of contacting an opthalmologist this week to see if I’ve sustained any damage. Finally, the flooding in football which that day’s Age said was drying up was actually back with inundating force. It wasn’t only Cooper’s Creek and the Diamantina which were experiencing turbulent flows. From my end of the ground there were a number of occasions when two thirds of the arena was not occupied by a single player.

I stayed in my seat for the entire game but I did a quick arithmetical calculation of what I saw. Let’s be generous and represent one half for the play on the other side of the ground, one half for when I was not so optically distracted that I was able to look at the game, and one third for when play was at my end of the field. Multiply those fragments together and it means I actually saw something like one twelfth of the game. It’s not much of a sample. It doesn’t give one much to write about.

The Blues opened well, and maybe the highlight of the day was the sixty metre torpedo punt deep into attack from the first takeaway which resulted in a goal. The Blues had four goals on the board before the Crows replied although the home team had plenty of opportunities, especially Brett Burton who missed two sitters in front. 5.1 to 2.7 at quarter time.

The Blues were again first out of the blocks and the Crows only goal came at the twenty minute mark, courtesy of undisciplined play by Aaron Joseph who gave away two consecutive fifty metre penalties. Why wasn’t he dragged? 10-4 to 3-9 at the long break.

The Crows had to make an impact in the third term but were unable to do so, again wasting opportunities near goal. Stalemate. 12-5 to 4-15. Adelaide were indirect in attack and so poor with their tackling that a good side would have annihilated them. Yet they were not completely out of the picture.

A couple of early goals to Adelaide in the final term had Blues’ supporters nervous. My wife, a Glenelg fan from way back, has followed Carlton since the Kernahan days, and despite Jack Elliott, and despite Fev’s foibles, has followed them since. She made the match-winning move by taking a toilet break. ‘Perhaps they’ll kick a goal while I’m away’, she said. They added two, the second from a brilliant angled snap from the right forward pocket at the southern end. More goals rained – four in a handful of minutes – to make the eight goal margin look convincing, 16-7 to 6-19.

Comfortable yes, convincing no.

Of the twelfth of the game I saw, Eddie Betts was slick and sure and created space, Judd in his first game back was not commanding but he created chances with his strength and vision. The Crows went backwards or sideways all day, picking up cheap possessions that didn’t count. Only when silky-skilled veteran McLeod got the ball did they look like they had a footballer in their ranks. With four losses in a row the Crows season is in danger of a premature end but it’s hard to see the Blues as a finals force.

Both sides could do with Jesus.


About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    In what position in respect of either team?

  2. Hey Bernard. Any idea of which Church was behind this message?

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