Crows: Capable of Obstruction but not Government

I tipped Western Bulldogs to beat Adelaide yesterday
and bet on them to get over the line. And they did,
but, sitting in the rain in that lonely park

I only wanted Adelaide to find a method,
any method, to kick a couple of goals
in the last quarter and to stay in front.

In the previous fortnight, with no Goodwin,
Davis, McLeod or Johncock, Adelaide
was missing its customary drive

From the backlines. Bock was back,
but Bock was just back, not truly back.
Yesterday Graham Johncock was superb,

Efficient in the slippery wet, wise
decisions in the cold heat of the battle,
a beautiful arching body sneaking

Out of his opponent’s grip, sublime
placement of kicks. The ball doesn’t drop
into Graham’s hands.
From the pocket,

You can see him making position
ten possessions before he’s in the zone.
He’s not a ball magnet – no player is.

He reads the play as an eagle tracks the path
of a rabbit or a fox in the open plains.
Over the years, Graham has had noise

in his personal life, but he’s also been
Adelaide’s quietest, most unsung hero.

I love watching him, especially yesterday
in the cold AAMI twilight and three quarters
of steady slow rain. He kept us in the game

And so, too, did Ben Rutten, faster that Barry Hall
in a foot race between two awkward camels.
Adelaide were obstructers in the Senate,

against the Dogs but they lacked hardness
at the Government end of the ground.
Taylor Walker, still only 19, doesn’t know

how to put his body over the ball, ride the tackle
and still get a slick handball out. He’s young
and, like Barnaby Joyce, still thinks that he has to

Piss on every tree. His wisdom will come eventually,
but here this conceit collapses. Wisdom will never
visit Barnaby Joyce
. Kurt Tippett took hard marks

In the slippery wet, but couldn’t convert.
Adelaide needed an oily fish at its feet,
a slick porpoise in the muddy sea.

They have one in their menagerie. But, this year,
he’s been asked to perform other tricks.
And thus, in Round 19, Adelaide left the race

for the coveted eight spot. Oh, yes, miracles
can happen – Hawthorn may not win again
and two or three others may draw each contest

in the next three weeks. The maths is not over,
but the season is. The coach will survive,
and so he should. He’s left his glass box

And come down to the ground, where he twitches
with every contest, as we do. He calls the play
as he is watching it, as we do in the stands.

This is not like a politician catching the bus
once or twice in an electoral cycle with cameras
firing. He’s become one of us, again,

A pseudo-player, and a fan and a sufferer
of poor fortune in bold and brilliant skies.


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    Thank-you John. Wonderful work.

    I watched a fair bit of that game on the television in the Steampacket Hotel in Williamstown. As you would expect, the crowd (and it was a crowd – of post-Junior football finals and post-lacrosse parents and children) was very much pro-Bulldogs. Also in the crowd was an ex Bulldogs coach – Terry Wheeler, a current Bulldogs player – Addison, as well as a departing Port assistant coach – Dean Laidley, enjoying some time with his family who have remained in Victoria.

    I love the Barnaby Joyce analogy. How you managed to fit in two references to a Queensland senator in a game involving teams from Victoria and South Australia was certainly an achievement. Try something similar in a game involving Geelong and maybe you could reference another Queensland politician – Katter.

  2. John Kingsmill says

    Thank you, Andrew. That’s the nicest thing
    anyone has said to me all year. (It has not been
    a good year for South Australians.)

    On Barnaby Joyce and Bob Katter… yes…
    it is a national comp, now. There are
    no rocks left, no hiding places anymore.

    I’ve been thinking about how to get
    Premier Mike Rann into a grand final report
    about Collingwood breaking a hoodoo

    and beating Geelong in the Grand Final.

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