Round 1 – Adelaide v North Melbourne: The sermon from the mount

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As I sit here on Easter Sunday night in the Flinders Ranges, staring at an almost full moon, I’m worshipping at nature’s altar. Sure, tonight’s moon, lighting up the backdrop of Mount Remarkable, doesn’t have the celestial athletics of last night’s eclipse / blood moon. But it does have two layers of cloud rolling across it at a rate of knots. It is more spectacular and mysterious in its own way.

So, on this holy weekend it must be time for some pontificating. Spectacular and mysterious can also describe Round 1 of the AFL to date. Several close games, upsets, high marks, dramatic collapses and surprise thrashings all a feature. As if those of us whose team had a victory or a close loss needed reminding how much we love and missed this game, we got it.

None more so than at the AFL’s new spiritual home ground, the Adelaide Oval. There were many question marks over the Crows. Will they defy most people’s ladder predictions and make the eight? Is Phil Walsh the right man for the job? Is Taylor Walker the right man for his job? Is Patrick Dangerfield off to Geelong faster than (desperately trying to think of something that intentionally goes to Geelong quickly)?

We, at the very least, got partial answers to all of those questions (in order: a good chance; signs are promising; signs are more than promising; and it doesn’t matter).

The Crows a show?

In more detail, I have been blown away by how readily people have written the Crows off before the season even started. So many narrow losses last year with an injury affected list, questionable defensive pressure (Sloane aside), poor ball movement and clear internal instability. Yet they only missed the finals by a game. The Crows have greater depth, a shorter injury list and greater stability – so why are people so down on them?

A better Walsh than Mike?

The Phil Walsh question cannot possibly be answered after one game but let’s just say there were more tackles and fewer short kicks from a half back flank to a contested situation at centre half back than we have become used to. A fierce forward press was effectively applied for the majority of the match. Plenty of whatever the opposite of swallows are need to be counted before we declare a winter, however.

Glory to the newborn king?

The third question may be, relatively speaking, the most straightforward. Walker answered that question himself with an emphatic ‘howdy partner’. From the very beginning, particularly when it mattered, he out marked, out kicked and outplayed the various defensive structures North Melbourne tried to put in his way. By one minute into the second quarter he already had 10 marks and a couple of goals to his name. Some dodgy kicking aside, he played like a king. The sort of king that led North Melbourne to two premierships, but with more orthodox toileting habits.

Some of us (read: me) have been wringing our hands over the summer about whether he was the right man for the job. Does he do the things a modern-day captain should do? Does his larrikin edge give him all the complexity and subtlety of the pantomime buffoon that Shane Warne portrays so well?

The answer at the end of this day is that it does not matter. As the leader, if he can consistently produce performances like that, his team will be successful. As much as Warney may stray into decidedly untoward areas these days, it can be forgotten that (diuretics aside) he would have been a very successful leader of the Australian cricket team. The non-buffoon qualifications some of us (read: me) tend to attach to such jobs are more about decreasing the chance of getting a bad leader rather than guaranteeing getting a good one. If Taylor Walker goes on as he has started then a good one is what we have got.

The raging bull in the room

To answer the last question, I’m sick of talking about Dangerfield (and I might just shut up about it some time this decade). He’ll make his own decision based upon his own criteria, of which all us pub warriors (and AFL employed journalists) have no idea. Until then talk is just so much hot air that couldn’t even raise a balloon. I’ll let ‘it doesn’t matter’ speak for itself, other than to reflect that those who think the decision will be based upon Geelong being a better club an Adelaide might get a shock this year. In the meantime let’s just enjoy watching the run and goal type work he displayed on the weekend – play with joy!

Here endeth the sermon from the mount – the bottle of McLaren Vale GSM is empty and it’s starting to rain.

About Dave Brown

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


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Dave Yep spot on especially re , Tex people lead in different ways and styles and there is nothing wrong with that . Can never believe this fascination and hysteria re a player signing a contract extension , do we no where we will be working in a years time ? A good week end with the legs and crows winning !
    ( intensity and pressure re Freo v Port was amazing )

  2. Something that goes to Geelong quickly? How about “quicker than an Easter Monday 3/4 time exodus”.

  3. Citrus Bob says

    the Crows will be top four this year if everything goes their way and the players stay on the park. Interesting to see if Walsh falls for the 3 card trick and play Thompson this week.
    Walker’s exhibition was a treat and he will kick 83 goals this year. Danger was as expected Danger and dangerous. Forget 2016.
    Throw in Douglas and Sloane on the ball and a tough relentless backline and there is the makings of a premiership side within 2 years.
    Sorry, I nearly forgot “Fast Eddy”. Thanks Mick. He also gave away Jeffrey Gartlett to the Dees. Thanks Mick.
    To Mick’s credit though Waite to the Shinboners?
    Citrus Bob

  4. Enjoyed your mid-Easter ponderings Dave.

    “A better Walsh than Mike?” is a key question of this age. Courtney also went well, but Mike was probably the better daytime TV host.

    Like you, I’m already ill of the Dangerfield speculation. And I’m not even in the country.

    Still, a bright start from our boys.

    Looking forward to getting home and having a full Easter break next year. In Singapore public holidays are allocated- two per religion, and Christianity gets Christmas and Good Friday. No Easter Monday which I guess is resurrection interruptus.

    Citrus Bob- I like the confidence of your prediction that Tex will kick 83 goals this year. Would 82 be a failed season from the new captain?

  5. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for the comments.

    Rulebook, very much liking the look of the two ladders at the moment. I think we should stop the season now and consider it a job well done…

    PB, as it turns out that would be fitting. Was toying with faster than Sam Newman seeking fresh material for street talk but that would involve admitting having watched enough of the Footy Show to know that was a thing.

    Citrus Bob, I like the way you think – 2016 officially forgotten. Eddie has indeed been a gift – even if it was considered Adelaide paid too much. Carlton people may well ask how much is the right amount when their team can’t kick goals. No doubt Mick happy to no longer have the Waite dilemma.

    Mickey – I love the idea of two public holidays per religion. Can any religion get in on that scam?

  6. Sadly only the four locally recognised ones. My attempts to get “Dudism” as inspired by the Big Lebowski were unsuccessful.

  7. Dave Brown says

    Keeping fighting the good fight, Mickey!

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