AFL Round 8 Adelaide v St.Kilda: Crow me a river

The state of South Australia can evoke distinct visual imagery for Victorians.

Such as…

Cheryl and Glynn Hewitt’s tracksuit collection.

The mysterious logistics of the 10c bottle deposit refund caper.

Phil and Amity from The Block.

The Pie floater.

Natasha Stott Despoja.

In childhood it was also the undisputed 1980’s hotbed of after school TV programming. Leading the charge was C’mon Kids, featuring Winky Dink (a white duck with an Elmo inferiority complex), and at state of origin time, Graeme Cornes as a guest host. The Bunsen burner bonhomie of The Curiosity Show followed.

If memory serves correct, Diff’rent Strokes would bat next in Channel 9’s weekday order. Though hardly an Adelaide product, Conrad Bain as Mr Drummond could easily pass as a third generation benefactor of the free-settling South Australian aristocracy.

This “Festival State” imagery is also seasonally based, particularly along sporting lines.

In Summer, she’s all lush Barossa greenery, city of churches, Memorial Drive tennis, Adelaide Oval reverence, and Maggie Beer verjuice.

But when temperatures chart inverse of “the Modra hanger trajectory”, the shift to darker tones is pronounced.

A drab Eastern bloc-style façade. Kick-a-Vic. Pitchforks (maybe). “Get offa my property” tirades for Victorian registered vehicles from about Keith (the home of alfalfa). And those Croweater shoulders, often struggling under weight of chip.

It is Football Park, with apologies to Rundle Mall, that is almost solely responsible for these metaphoric black clouds.

The reasoning is simple.

It’s a massive shithole.

As a sporting venue, “Foopbool Park” is so aesthetically dire that Waverley Park was by comparison the thriving global epicentre of bohemian culture. And remarkably, felt more centrally located than the GPO.

The bus trip from the Adelaide CBD to Westlakes sits comfortably alongside Russian trains to the Gulag. Granted, on the return trip there is little chance of requiring a toilet stop – drinking in your seat at Footy Park is disallowed. Despite this, Woodstock Bourbon contraband soothes many a local palette.

And as a despised visiting Victorian fan, you are always seated directly behind the big sticks.

But today, St Kilda venture there for the last time.

Praise be, my friends. Praise be.

Admittedly I’ve made the trip on just the three occasions.

The first, on a student’s budget, involved tagging along with the Saints cheer squad in 1998. A $110 all inclusive ticket. Sucker for punishment stuff following the 1997 Grand Final. Staggering off the Greyhound bus into ungodly Hindley Street sunlight at 7am (6:30am CST), it was akin to being drenched in, as Morgan Freedman described in The Shawshank Redemption, “delousing shit”. The Crows won by 70pts.

The Harvey-on-haunches 2004 preliminary final vs Port Adelaide followed. Given St Kilda’s early dominance, I refused to ground invade when Gehrig kicked his 100th goal. And if only Brent Guerra had hair back then, he may have thrust his foot more confidently at that last goal ward dribbling ball.

A year later came the redemption, the Harvey-arms-in-triumph in the Qualifying Final against the Crows. He single-handedly turned in the most inspired one-man effort since Jordan drained 63 against the Celtics. Bruce Eva led us in unbridled song on the terraces, and thoughts turned to a home preliminary final (read: premiership). We know the post-script.

Today however I’m parked at home in Aspendale, in front of crackling fire, far from the ills of West End draught, and unfortunately St Kilda far away from any talk of a finals berth.

There’s a fractious German shepherd at foot, and a Chihuahua doing her level best to edge me off the couch. They are a veteran Lazar Vidovic/Danny Craven duo that draw inquisitive second glances during “walkies” along Mordialloc creek.

With the match underway, Crows fans tick off stereotypes early. Bronx cheers arrive in the first minute.

The game then refuses to unfold. It’s clear this will be no spectacle. All slip-slop, arm-wrestle footy.

The Saints have played in a dogged manner most of the year. Missing key personnel, and lacking seasoned depth in a transitioning Benjamin Button team. They are never blown away on the scoreboard, but might be accused of dragging down better opposition in the process.

Nick Riewoldt’s form has warranted the approaching mid-year clichés. “Career best”. “Turning back the clock”. “All Australian”. “Leading the B&F”. The admiration from opposition fans has similarly risen. Easier feat now as a “gut-busting veteran” of a team no longer a threat.

Tonight the skipper’s cattle dog work ethic remains, but the delivery is poor.

Beau Wilkes-cum-Maister (the #beaumaister), with his Canadian drifter backpacking panache, is proving the more likely forward target, but those lumberjack veteran legs of Rutten keep denying him the pill.

Rory Sloane, yet another product of the Christopher Adkins school of Blue Lagoon grooming, is the menace. A thrifty pick-up and dish to Mackay delivers the only early highlight. Ahmed Saad, he of comical goal approach longer than said CBD-Westlakes bus trips, nails one after the quarter time siren to keep St Kilda in touch.

Mid-way though the second quarter, Cuba insistently brandishes a half-chewed tennis ball in my face. It is a Wimbledon quality tennis ball. They generally take longer to destroy, but are a more economically sound investment. It distracts from the action. It’s appreciated.

Tommy Lynch, Adelaide’s ten goal “hero” the previous week against GWS, is starting to find the footy. At St Kilda, popular myth has it that Ross Lyon spoke to the blood-nutted Lynch just once. It rings similar to Malcolm Blight’s brief tenure at the Saints. He never spoke to the red-headed Matthew Young at all. I would have thought the gingers generally required more assurance and confidence boosting.

Maybe St Kilda just prefer blondes. That mantra has generally stood the test of time at Moorabbin.

In the second half the Torrens floodgates do open.

The clearances are all Crows. With a nod to their principal corporate partner, Douglas and Thompson in particular go about their business with the sturdy family transportation reliability of a four cylinder Camry.

Josh Jenkins is unbeknown to me until now. He’s taking aerial control in the Crows’ forward state of Tex-less (and Tip-less). He sounds butler by name, but be big lump in game. Farmers Union Iced Coffee appears a staple of his pre-season regime.

St Kilda’s endeavour is evident again, but the lack of finishing polish continues to persist. The small forwards are struggling for impact. We pray for Lenny’s return and some short-term relief. If Hayes is the Domestos, Adam Schneider would add the Mr Sheen touch.

The Saints have kicked just six goals as the siren sounds. It coincides with the oven bell ring for my shithouse $5 frozen pepperoni pizza from the house of Dr Oetker. Cuba and Daisy guzzle some pre-dinner schmackos, the nectar of the dogs. Fox Footy is quickly dispensed for Eurovision.

The Saints bid adieu to Footy Park.

South Australia’s chances of gouging my tourist dollar at the same fixture next year have enhanced significantly however.

I’ll happily meet you outside the Victor Richardson gates. No bus in sight!

ADELAIDE 2.4 4.8 9.12 12.15 (87)
ST KILDA 2.4 3.5 5.7 6.11 (47)

Adelaide: Jenkins 2, Lynch 2, Mackay, McKernan, Vince, Thompson, Talia, Douglas, Van Berlo, Porplyzia
St Kilda: Milne 2, Saad 2, Armitage, Riewoldt

Adelaide: Sloane, Jenkins, Mackay, Douglas, Lynch, Thompson, Talia
St Kilda: Montagna, Roberton, Newnes

Umpires: Donlon, Fleer, Stewart

Official crowd: 34,605 at AAMI Stadium

Our votes: 3 Sloane (Adel), 2 Jenkins (Adel), 1 Mackay (Adel)


  1. Magnificent, DD.

    Now give us your Eurovision review.

  2. 3 votes – And those Croweater shoulders, often struggling under weight of chip.
    2 votes – Woodstock Bourbon contraband soothes many a local palette.
    1 vote – The gratuitous mention of Farmers’ Union – it is quite a good iced coffee.

    Sadly, there was no room in my votes for “nectar of the dogs”.

    PS: If a pizza sets you back 5 bucks, you need to adjust your expectations. As they say, things are always cheap for a reason. And being “snap frozen” does not always seal in the goodness.

  3. Mark Schwerdt says

    I’ve noticed that you can get snap-frozen Balfours pies/pasties in your local C*les – might be a better bet than your pizza.

    And Fruchocs (re-labelled Apricot Fruit Balls for the eastern states)

    But no sign of Sno-Top

  4. Scott Rankin says

    A beautiful tale of woe DD. I still shudder at the memory of that Brent Guerra goal square freezeframe response….. THAT was the one that got away.

    PS I’m totally with you on your tennis ball cost benefit analysis. My staffy Lola can go through four Homebrand balls a day, but takes a month to pop a good Wilson!

    Go Saints.

  5. mickey randall says

    Hello DD.

    While I’m a Crows supporter I agree that few will miss Football Park. The new Adelaide Oval should be great.

    Has there been a point in St Kilda’s history when it has not had a blonde star? Is it compulsory?

  6. As a Crows fan living in exile in Melbourne, I loved the writing, the SA references, and the memories. Thanks DD!

  7. David Downer says

    Thank you all…

    MOC – Eurovision reviews seem long in the tooth once that last broken english vote is read. Sam Pang delivered the goods again this year. I did note on Twitter that if an Australian ever found themselves involved, I’d like Richard Wilkins to land the hosting gig (or Winky Dink?). This year Romania took on board what Eurovision is all about.

    Arma – I’ve used “nectar of the dogs” before. But don’t tell anyone. Dr.Oetker on special at Woolworths this week #getaroundthem

    Mark – Balfours frozen pies. Yes. Been there too…

    Scott – I was sitting right behind that Guerra foot thrust (behind the goals, as we do at FP). I was in similar position with Milne’s bobbling ball circa 2010 GF, and Winmar with a similar one in ’98 final in Sydney. Will be more aware of my finals seat lottery outcomes in future. Er, may not have that issue for a while.

    Mickey – If we trace St Kilda’s chronology in reverse I do believe we’d have prominent players sporting blonde mops stretching back to pre-War. Reckon Adelaide have had their fair share also. They were certainly fond of a rinse in the mid-2000s anyway. Was Adam Saliba a blonde back in the day?

    Andy – Cheers. I must admit Phil Smyth’s bald head, Boof Lehmann, the terms “yiros” and “parmie” did also push hard for selection in this piece.

  8. You forgot the SANFL two points for a win and the mad percentages.

  9. Matt Webber says


    A shithole indeed.

  10. I was born in S.A. There, I’ve said it. Dad was a jackaroo and I was welcomed to the world in Pt Augusta hospital. Left before my first birthday, coz I was psychic from birth. Knew all about Adelaide oval and that I was destined to be a Saint.
    Appreciate Sam Fisher though.
    Brilliant read DD. x

  11. Tony Robb says

    They may be changing the venue but the same supporter will be there.
    Great read

  12. Glenelg lost the first SANFL GF (1974) at West Lakes and I have hated the dump ever since.
    Still not happy with the wrecking of Adelaide Oval for Crows and Power.

  13. … and the pie floater and Natasha are bonus points for the Southwark State.

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