AFL Round 4 – Adelaide v Western Bulldogs: The lost art of wet weather footy

Score a footy and Crows gear

Score a footy and Crows gear

Wet weather footy – it seems to be such a rarity these days. Occasionally there will be a downpour at the ‘G. Brisbane gets a bit of tropical rain to test the southern visitors. The centre square at the SCG can get a bit muddy every now and then. Generally though in these days of extreme weather and after a decade or so of footy at Etihad Stadium, real hard slog wet weather football seems to be the exception rather than the norm of decades past.

Those that badge football as entertainment probably regard this evolution of the game as a success. Wet weather football is not entertaining football for most people I guess – the footy becomes a cake of soap, players struggle to keep their feet, and the play generally degenerates into a succession of pack contests, stoppages, and long kicks along the boundary.

Personally, I appreciate the art of wet weather footy. I enjoy it when the conditions dictate that teams put aside their set plays, zone defences, and switches to the fat side. To me a wet game of aussie rules is like a woman without makeup – its true beauty is allowed to shine.

Most of the hardy souls in the AAMI Stadium outer with me for the Adelaide v Western Bulldogs clash probably don’t agree. It’s cold, it’s wet and it’s uncomfortable. Me though, I love it. It’s what supporting your team is all about – being their rain, hail or shine. If they have to play in it, then I can sit in it. Sadly it seems that most Adelaide fans have chosen the live coverage on their flat screens from the comfort and warmth of their own loungerooms, a paltry 27,000 turning up. Paying for a season ticket and then not using it will never made sense to me.

I decide that a couple of pre match ports are in order to warm the insides and blunt the icy winds coming off the gulf and across the stadium. Above the bar is a line of faded and buckled photos of SANFL stars of yesteryear. In these last days of Footy Park they are a sad lament of times now past, but also a statement of the need for renewal. I’m sure the concrete terraces would’ve been lined with supporters in all conditions back in those days. No tidy rows of seating back then either.

We take our seats, jackets on and towels under bums. Dangerfield curiously starts on the wing and within a couple of minutes it becomes apparent why, drifting forward to kick the game’s first goal.  The first quarter is punctuated by a huge down pour, ensuring anything below my jacket is soaked. Thankfully the socks stay dry, nothing worse than wet feet. Dangerfield drops forward for another goal, his skills and speed in the wet making him superior in a one on one contest.

Adelaide are playing to the conditions better, their harder players like Thompson and Sloane relishing the conditions and the contests. Years of undercover football at their home ground see the Bulldogs struggle. In the early days of Adelaide in the AFL I remember watching several trips to the muddy Western Oval on the TV where the Bulldogs were the masters of such conditions – how times change. Cooney is still of the old school though, a shining light for the Doggies in the wet as he slams through the second of two quick goals close to quarter time.

The second quarter sees more dour wet weather footy. The games stays an arm wrestle, however the Bulldogs reluctance to completely throw away their dry weather game sees them cough up a couple more goals without troubling the scoreboard themselves. Adelaide are better at moving the ball forward, their soul aim to gain territory as it should be in these slippery conditions.

Half time comes and those well prepared for the conditions reach for their thermoses of hot tea or coffee. Remarkably the sun comes out for the second half, although the icy winds still keep things chilly.

Adelaide slips up a gear, Sloane, Dangerfield and Thompson taking things up another notch. The goals start to flow, with the lesser lights also finally increasing their outputs after a quiet season so far. Otten is looking superb in defence, showing shades the form that saw him come second in the Rising Star a few years back before an unfortunate pre-season knee injury curbed his progress. Rutten & Reilly seem to be back to their old selves, and the form of youngsters Brown, Kerridge, Lynch & Crouch is very encouraging. As if to emphasise the point, late in the term Crouch punches through his first career goal with a wonderful run up the wing and into the forward 50, the last of 6 Adelaide goals for the term while the Dogs still fail to trouble the scorers.

The signal for three quarter time might as well be the final siren, Adelaide’s comprehensive premiership quarter snuffing out any chance of a Bulldog revival. In fact the Dogs still only have the 2 goals kicked in the first term, a stat that must have the bespectacled ones reaching for their record books.

The final term is played mostly on Adelaide’s terms and slip into preservation mode subbing Tex Walker and giving Porplyzia a run.  The Bulldogs manage to slip a couple more cheapies through late to keep the unenvious ‘lowest score’ records at bay, but besides the courageous solo efforts of Cooney there’s been no bark in their bite this day. A nice end point to the game ensues with second gamer Kerridge marking on the siren and going back to kick his first goal.

The celebrations in the outer are low key, Adelaide supporters simply grateful for the 4 quarter effort displayed after an indifferent start to the year. The Adelaide players seem happy with the win, but you sense that with the job done and some form found, their minds are already re-focussing on next week’s game at the ‘G against Carlton. After today’s display I wouldn’t be surprised if this includes some prayers for wet weather.

About Ben Footner

I'm tragic Crows fan, avid lawn bowler, public librarian and father of 2 little kiddies. Sometimes I also find time amongst all that to squeeze out the occasional article for the Almanac.

Comments

  1. Great read Ben, reminds of a Crows game against North Melbourne some years back that was also a very cold and wet Football Park evening. At that stage, W Carey was still playing for the Kangaroos and not the Crows.

    Thanks again for your report, I enjoyed it very much!

  2. Good report, Ben. Better than the crap in the Powertiser. One point–only 24,000 of us there on Sunday. Shame that as we need to support the team whatever the weather.

  3. Ben Footner says:

    24k! I knew the figure was disappointing, I forgot it was that disappointing Allen!

    A bit of rain never hurt anyone – I do find our fellow Adelaide fans a bit soft at times.

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