AFL Round 7 – Adelaide v Melbourne: the view from the back

Is it unseemly for a grown man to put a number on the back of his jumper? Should a gentleman of age own a club jumper at all if he did not earn it or it miraculously survived his latter teenaged years? These questions trouble me on far too regular a basis, particularly as I peruse my overly extensive collection of supporter wear prior to a game. I settle for an imagined number on my jumper – last year 9 at both Norwood and the Crows (one of my greatest joys in recent SANFL football was getting to watch Brett Zorzi play each week). This year at Norwood it was going to be 39 in honour of a defender, but the rookie draft happened.

It can be a tough life being a defender in the AFL. With barely a sniff of a Brownlow vote you are barely noticed if you do a good job. By contrast, your direct opponent who is usually taller, stronger, faster and better paid than you can have four kicks and still be considered to have had a decent game if they’re straight enough (the kicks that is). Even worse, you are forced to spend at least one game per year in the company of Hayden Ballantyne (golly knows how the rest of Fremantle’s forward line manage it every week).

The object of my affection today is Alexis Georgiou. This charming young man from the Adelaide Hills has come to the AFL the hard way. Up until the 2013 rookie draft, Georgiou was a dual premiership defender for Norwood (wearing 39) in the SANFL and filled his days working as an engineer on the southern expressway duplication (for many years Adelaide has had a much mocked single way highway to assist people from the dormitory suburbs in the south to get to and from the city – subtle flavours of Keynesian economics about its duplication as is often the case in this neck of the woods). On the day of the rookie draft he was too busy working to see his name called out – his phone going off non-stop in his pocket was sufficient indication it had happened.

Georgiou is not an attractive footballer – he gangles in his 187cm frame. While he possesses good closing speed his running style is unlikely to see him feature at Stawell. The best way to describe his kicking is ugly but effective (his kicking efficiency was over 80% in 2013). What he does have is ticker and plenty of it. He is capable of competing with much bigger opponents and is eager to learn. Over his four years at Norwood he went from being a negating defender to, game on game, adding a more attacking element. He improved his run and carry to the extent that all hell broke loose at Woodville Oval on Father’s Day 2013, when he got so far forward as to grab the ball out of a contest, run into 50 and kick his first goal in league football. Given these factors in a way it is only somewhat surprising that Melbourne decided to give him a go, subsequently upgrade and make him a fixture in defence. Also as he has played in in the region of 60 Norwood victories over the last four years they may just have recruited him because he has more experience in singing the club song than any of their players. By my (admittedly dodgy) maths he has shouted ‘It’s a grand old flag’ as many times in his three and a half years at Norwood as Melbourne has in the last nine seasons combined.

Today at Adelaide Oval he lines up on Tom Lynch only giving up 4cm and having a 1kg advantage on his direct opponent. This is absolute luxury by Georgiou’s usual standards (he has stood Cox, Naitanui and Franklin among others this year). Dangerfield does his thing early but after that the Crows enter the 50 without penetration and struggle to get the ball past half back when in defence. Kennedy-Harris gets past a Brown tackle and puts the Dees in front and the Crows never catch them. Next my man Georgiou, more or less unsighted to this point, takes part in a Tom Lynch head sandwich with Viney and is helped off the ground. The Dees continue to be opportunistic and kick straight as Georgiou’s temporary replacement puts one through. Before you know it early in the second the Dees are up by six goals.

Georgiou comes back on, despite how well Salem played in his absence, sadly lacking some form of roughly applied head bandaging that would have had the potential to make him look like a cartoon character with a sore tooth. He does not feature significantly in the game – getting a disposal and tackle here and there. He is eventually subbed off again in the third quarter after getting slammed into the ground by Jenkins and then getting beaten rather badly by him soon after. In the end his part in the accidental breaking of Lynch’s jaw is his greatest impact on the game – depriving the Crows of an important link player (and straight kicker), sorely missing on the day.

The rest of the game provides the average Crows fan with sufficient incentive to drink his chardonnay and chew on the glass as well. The Crows pile on the pressure but due to ineffective ball movement, inaccurate kicking (just too many coach killing shots on goal) and timely goals from Melbourne, can never quite bridge the gap. Even the last quarter specialist, Sloane, can only manage to hit the post which must have been a particularly cruel blow for Sanderson (as it was for me). There is something wrong with a team that cannot win with 23 more inside 50s than their opponent.

In honour of the gritty defender, the most influential players on the ground today were clearly Talia, Terlich, Grimes, Howe (yes, playing as a defender), and Neville Jetta who blanketed Betts all day. I really wish Georgiou well in his AFL career. However, if it doesn’t work out, he will always be welcome back at the Parade. If so, I might even encourage my kids to put a 39 on the back of their jumper. Long live the unfashionable defender!

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Peter_B says

    Good piece, Dave. Good judge of character too. Alex Georgiou has been going out with my niece for several years now. She is a dietician in Warracknabeal, so she heads to Melbourne rather than back to the Adelaide Hills for her weekends these days.
    Alex looks awkward, but he is a very effective kick with a good disposal accuracy. Rarely wastes a possession.
    Pity about Alex’s concussion on the weekend, but I’m sure he thinks its a fair price for beating the Crows on the Adelaide Oval.
    My Dad is a Port Adelaide supporter, and Alex’s biggest fan. He is on cloud 9 these days.

  2. Dave- thanks for this. I love stories like Alex Georgiou’s in which he plays some good local footy, gets a chance, and makes the most of it.
    Working on Adelaide’s southern expressway ( a “smart road”? No, half a road) will have prepared him for the irony and absurdity of being a Demon backman!
    Nice job Dave. I’m a bit pleased to not be in Adelaide, and see the Crows stink up the new oval with their rot. Let’s hope their season improves quickly. The Collingwood game will likely prove definitive. Nice report, most enjoyable.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Bewdy Dave. I feel your pain.

    It helps to have an interest beyond your own team (mine is the Frost brothers).

    It will be an interesting clash in a couple of weeks when the Crows meet Carlton at the MCG in the Sunday twilight fixture. Or not.

  4. Thanks gents – given this year’s form the Crows may wish to make Etihad their new home ground

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