Finals Week 1 – Adelaide v GWS: Row G’s phalanx of tepid thermoses


I cross Victor Richardson Road; bow at the Barrie Robran statue; undergo a cheerfully non-invasive security check, beep my ticket and click through the turnstile; sniff a whiff from the Neil Kerley Bar whose patrons are plainly devouring some Walker Flat yabbies doubtless netted (legally) by Knuckles himself; amble past the Chappell Stand that’s next to the Bradman Pavilion so Ian and the Don can symbolically continue their fiscal disagreements in perpetuity; glance sideways at the Favell/Dansie Indoor Training Centre; consider a swift beer at the David Hookes Terrace Bar, or possibly the Phil Ridings Bar; catch some uncharacteristic clatter coming from the Ian McLachan Room, and finally climb the stairs to the Sir Edwin Smith grandstand, where I breathe in the elegant sweep of the Clarrie Grimmett Gate, the Bob Quinn Gate, and the heritage-listed, yet soothingly nameless scoreboard. 


Misty rain is falling as the match begins, and bobbing about us are crocheted tri-colour beanies and tartan thermoses by the bagpipe-full. Somehow, I don’t think we’ll get invited into a shout of bundies with the strangers in Row G.


The GWS-ers start brightly and move the ball forward frequently, but without any significant threat until the man-bunned Harrison Himmelberg opens the affair.


There’s certain footballers who execute specific skills with rare exquisiteness. Brodie Smith is a glorious kick, and invests the ball with joyous flight and astonishing physics. I pay to see him launch a scorching drop punt. He does, and goals at the Riverbank end. Minutes later he slips when tackling, and appears to wreck his ACL. This is cruel. Knees are the most robust of our moving parts, but also the most delicate.


Ex-Collingwood racer Paul Seedsman is in our best side, but again takes the field attired with Andrew Newton Jarman-style three-quarter length sleeves. I’m unsure of the function, and speculate if the inaugural Crow himself knocks these up in the shed on his Singer, as a tribute to himself. It’s not impossible. Still, Seed provides telling run and carry, and is a penetrating kick. He goals to give the home side a small, but ultimately permanent lead.


With appendectomy Wikipedia entrant Rory Sloane spectating, giant Giant Rory Lobb jumps up one place to claim the title of this game’s third best Rory, behind Laird and Atkins. His point is the last score of the first term. Pleasingly, the Crows have not made their customary slow start.


Tonight, it’s not the third quarter that defines the contest, but the second, and on a soggy evening Eddie Betts again shows why he is among our code’s most effervescent players. He generates joy where none should exist. He goals from spatial situations beyond human contemplation. Like McCartney singing over a lonely guitar, or Black Caviar lengthening her stride and lowering her back, his contributions are rare and breathtaking. I’m privileged.


Mercifully, our tidy lead means we’ve heard little from the supporter in Row A who provides coaching and umpiring recommendations from her seat. Her vocal stylings seem to echo mid-career Tom Waits, Bobcat Goldthwait and a distressed, if not deceasing, dugong. For many reasons, we’re all relieved the footy’s not close.


The GWS mob get three speedy majors after the long break, and there’s some momentary tension. Waits/ Goldthwait/ dugong screeches. With a single first-half goal, the visitors have registered the lowest score in VFL/AFL finals footy since 1960.


However, a Richard Douglas intercept mark and conversion ensures that we relax, and not kick over any checkered soldiers in Row G’s phalanx of tepid thermoses. He then collects another in what has been an emblematic season, and at the siren the opposition has crept forward but a single point.


During the huddle, a nearby couple gathers up their goods and squeezes past us saying, “If we go now we can get home to watch the last quarter.” This is bewildering and I wonder why they bother coming at all, and how these Port supporters stole a pair of tickets. Curious.


At the ten-minute juncture of a fizz-less final stanza Coniglio achieves the game’s concluding goal, and at 10pm the Crows have advanced to their second only home preliminary final.


As we cross the Torrens foot bridge, even the mediocre busker warbling an Oasis cover is thrilling.


It’s getting exciting.



ADELAIDE                                3.4   8.7  12.8  12.12 (84)

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.4   1.5   5.7   6.12 (48)


Adelaide: Betts 3, Douglas 2, Smith, Seedsman, McGovern, Walker, Jenkins, Lynch, B. Crouch

Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio 2, Himmelberg, Ward, Greene, de Boer 


Adelaide: Betts, M.Crouch, Lynch, B.Crouch, Jacobs, Brown, Greenwood,

Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Coniglio, Scully, de Boer, Ward 


Adelaide: Smith (knee)

Greater Western Sydney: Cameron (hamstring), Coniglio (knee)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Rosebury, Ryan

Official crowd: 52,805

Our votes: Tex (Walker), Don (Pyke) and Charlie (Cameron)


Read more coverage of the Adelaide v GWS game here.

About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    According to the Oval map, it has been labelled the “Heritage Scoreboard”. I would have gone with “Irish Mulholland Five Goals in 1971 First Semi” myself.

    I’m waiting for the Audi Club to be renamed the Lightburn Zeta Room.

    Hope you snag a spot in the Prelim too Mickey.

  2. It really is a privilege to see Betts go about his work isn’t it?

    Fantastic performance by Adelaide last night,. The Crouch brothers were superb, in particular Brad Crouch who was just in ‘beast mode’ all night.

    On we march.

  3. Love the distressed dugong line, Mickey. Yes, the unnecessary tension released by that Douglas goal was immense. Wonder if the contents of those thermoses was more or less tepid than GWS

  4. Well watching the match on TV in cold, wet Melbourne GWS seemed very tepid. Those three talls up forward , Cameron, Paton, Lobb , contributed no goals. We might see Paton next week, Lobb, has a slight chance of being retained, Cameron: gone. It;s a chance for Stevie J to return to the big stage.

    Adelaide have a well earned break. It’s a pity to see a regular like Smith do his knee: sad.

    The finals have started.


  5. Give my regards to Mostyn Evans, John Creswell and George Giffen for me the next time you see them Mickey. Adelaide Oval is the most sublime of grounds. Many happy childhood and recent Eagles memories. Long may they continue (or at least one more day).
    Had the choice of watching this game on the AFL Global Pass or taking in the Dali Museum and lunch on the beach. Salvador by the length of the Flemington straight!
    The match reports by you and Rulebook filled me in on what I missed (not much). But the wit and elegance of your writing transcends what sounds like a dreary affair for the non-partisan. Tex, Don and Charlie! How long have you been saving that one up. Were you Dennis’ gag writer in a previous life? Comettiesque.
    Leaving the Costa Brava this morning for the long drive to San Sebastian. Hoping to introduce a few Basques to the joys of Jeremy, Josh and Jack over pintxos and cerveza for lunch tomorrow. Thanks Knackers for putting. a smile on my dial in the Spanish pre-dawn.

  6. A great write-up, Mickey.
    The Crows were way too good.

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff Mickey love the best,Rory’s line and superb description re Sir Edward Betts !

  8. Thanks Swish. “Heritage Scoreboard” is the cartographical equivalent of “Page Not Found.” I’ll be at the preliminary final if I can get a good price for our children.

    Ben- neither Crouch sibling can kick more than about 35 metres, but I love that they get the footy. I reckon they remind us that, ultimately, this game is about getting hold of the fig. And getting it to a mate.

    Dave- that the GWS-ers only threatened for about five minutes was the evening’s biggest surprise. We had a nice spread of contributors. NB- we crept out the back at half-time for a beer and the tap lager choices were Hahn, Hahn and Hahn. Take caution.

    Thanks Glen! Disappointing for Smith. Of course the ’97 Crows were without Roo, Modra and Vardy. Smith is a most compelling kick.

    PB- I can see that the non-Crows types may have found this a dull match. Me, I’m happy with dull as I reckon we’ve lost our share of close ones. Won’t mention the 2006 preliminary final. Bugger, I have. Enjoy Spain. Conversation, plonk, food. I think the Spaniards have it sorted.

    Thanks Smokie. As I type I think the only close match in this first week of finals could be the Port/ Eagles fixture. Still, against the might of Bangladesh, we’ve scraped a drawn series.

    ‘Book- Clearly Adelaide has to jag and recruit every Rory. Then maybe BT might get our names right.

    Thanks everyone. Gee, I love September (the month, but even the song goes alright!)

  9. As I always say Mickey, it’s not the length that matters, but how you use it that counts – and the Crouch boys are good users of the footy.

    Matt Crouch’s kicking has undergone a remarkable transformation, boy he must’ve put some work into it over the preseason. His opens up the opposition zone defence all the time with his awareness and disposal efficiency. Trading away a club darling in Vince to secure the pick we then used for him will surely go down as one of the most gutsy and inspired moves seen at a trade/draft table.

  10. Ben- Vince is an effervescent footballer (and participant in various Glenelg public houses too as I recollect) and much-loved among Crows fans. Trading him was unpopular, but in a few weeks we might see the wisdom of this.

    Who would’ve guessed that in 2017 the Crouch boys would’ve produced the best season by a pair of siblings, at least statistically?

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