Round 1 – Adelaide v Geelong: James and Stephen Rowe – Good boy!


James Rowe is 21 years old, built low to the ground, smart, clever, quick. There are more athletes than footballers in many rebuilding clubs in the competition; Rowe is a footballer, his teeth cut at SANFL level, the leading goalkicker of the League despite standing at just 173 centimetres. A premiership player for Woodville-West Torrens, the 38th pick in the 2020 National Draft.


Rowe’s dad, Stephen, calls the game on radio, and played 29 games for the foundational Crows team. He was in joyful tears over his son’s drafting last year, recounting on live radio the hours spent in tears of happiness, the visit from the coach at midnight to congratulate James. It is an incredibly moving audio package.


James played in Round One, kicking two and starring as a pacey, dangerous small forward for an Adelaide team that flayed its heavily favoured opponent by playing with all the youthful flair accumulated from a full-bodied rebuild. That the wooden spooner bludgeoned the Grand Finalist is another entire article.


Rowe kicks his first goal in the second quarter, a beauty; receiving a skimming handball from half-forward, he hums through fifty, with an awkward bounce, and threads a difficult kick from an angle on the right. It’s a great passage of play, two clever handballs that find Rowe moving at pace in the pocket. Rowe’s awareness to take his time, decelerate before the disposal, indicates his significant footballing pedigree. His celebration begins at the moment the ball hurtles from his boot.


And what a celebration it is, the #31, Stephen’s first number and now Jimmy’s, wheeling, bellowing, toward his teammates, arms windmilling wildly in the afternoon sun, leaping into Tex Walker’s arms with a scream of pure elation. Walker holds him tight, so he can be congratulated by the rest of the team without tearing off again.


It is a heart-bursting, infectiously joyous moment, writing a fierce smile across the face of the viewer, whether they be casual, rusted-on, passing. It also places Adelaide four goals clear of Geelong with the great majority of the second quarter to be played. Stephen Rowe’s reaction in the commentary box, though, is my favourite aspect of it.


Stephen is sitting in the FiveAA box. Mark Bickley and Will Goodings are in the box with him. There are papers, notes, coffee cups everywhere. There’s a camera on Stephen should his son kick a goal, a bloke at the back of the box with his cameraphone ready.


Writers have said that Rowe called the goal – he didn’t, he was watching as Will Goodings rode James’ goal, next to him, the father’s arms lifting precisely with his son’s as the ball sailed through, Stephen’s teeth clenched in a jaw-wrenching smile, his eyes brimming. Through the Perspex window, commentary neighbours have turned to watch. A pause for the crowd left by the FiveAA callers, Stephen Rowe’s arms still in the air, his eyes glued to his young fella. He yells out, joyfully. “Good boy!”


There is a lot that goes into ‘good boy’. It resonates in the chest, rises in its exclamation. Stephen Rowe takes a moment before speaking, to watch the celebration, soaking in his son’s success for as long as he possibly can. It is not a caller barracking for the rookie, it is the father desperately proud of his son, caring not for the job, the game, those who may hear. And then, as Jimmy Rowe falls into a leaping, broiling sea of ecstatic teammates, the rush of words, the attempt to address his joy: “He needed an early one! God, I love footy…. look at them get around the little man!” There is laughter in the box, not at Stephen or James, but the type of contagious, spontaneous giddy happiness that comes with a moment so pure and beautiful.


Jimmy Rowe is 22 this year but in this moment he is an under 9’s tacker kicking his first goal, helmeted on a Sunday morning, caked in mud and sodden to the bone, his mother and father clutching coffees by the boundary side and watching hard. I myself am reeling back to those mornings, winning my first game at age 8 and sprinting wordlessly at the siren to hug my dad by the boundary, totally ruining his shirt but we don’t care, we don’t care at all.


It has me thinking of brotherhoods, of fathers and sons and brothers and siblings and friends and cousins. Being proud of one another. Of watching my now 17-year-old brother Ollie open the batting for his team, hooking fast bowlers for four. Watching him kick a goal for his local team and then rip off his Woodend jumper to reveal a Richmond one underneath. It has me thinking of the men I know and realising the love I have for them.


Good boy!


ADELAIDE    4.4    11.7    13.9    15.13 (103)
GEELONG     2.3     5.5     10.8    13.13 (91)


 Walker 5, Rowe 2, Frampton 2, McHenry 2, Lynch, Murphy, McAdam, Schoenberg
Geelong: Parfitt 2, Hawkins 2, Smith 2, Stanley, Rohan, Menegola, Blicavs, Guthrie, Dahlhaus, Miers


Walker, Laird, Scholl, McHenry, Rowe
Geelong: Dangerfield, Guthrie, Blicavs, Smith, Parfitt



Brown (sore achilles), Kelly (concussion), Hinge (shoulder)
Geelong: Menegola (shoulder)



:  Mitchell Hinge (replaced Luke Brown)
Geelong: Charlie Constable (replaced Sam Menegola)


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE



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  1. Well written Paddy. I enjoy the honesty that shines out in your pieces.

  2. Nice piece, Paddy. Thanks

  3. Jeremy Wells says

    This is a lovely piece Paddy, really enjoyed it. I’ve seen the footage of Stephen Rowe in the commentary box and I think you captured the sentiment perfectly.
    I’m a Tigers man, but when Jimmy Rowe’s goal went through, I had goosebumps.

  4. Excellent summary Paddy, I can’t say anymore, you’ve said it all.

  5. It was spontaneous and brilliant loved,Stephens reaction having known,Stephen since early eighties I admit added a bit on -sitting with Stephen and Andrew Pascoe at a Under 17s game speaking with Rowey re the frustration of Jimmy not playing for Norwood,the frustration of being overlooked in drafts.Only thing I disagree with is pace it’s not Jimmys strength but geez he reads the ball beautifully a real footballer
    Thanks Paddy

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