Round 1 – Adelaide v North Melbourne: We are contenders!

Adelaide versus North Melbourne
2.50pm, Sunday, 5 April
Adelaide Oval
Richard Arrowsmith
For me, season 2014 was lost to a series of niggles from the condition called Life.  An overseas trip here, a family celebration there, and then when the opportunity comes – sigh, I think I just need the weekend off.  I can’t blame the niggles for everything, I have to admit I was dropped for form also.

So it’s been a year-long layoff and I’m a bit nervous about my return to the big stage.

Brush a thick layer of dust off the binoculars.  A search of the hatstand: Springsteen, Uluru, Sopranos… CROWS.  Sorted.  The 19th Man polo is a bit scruffy but it’ll have to do.  A sound check – ahem… BAAALLLL!  Yep, still got it.

I have to learn a new game plan.  Turn left – not right – at the roundabout and head for Blackwood Station.  Stand for 30 minutes on a train buzzing with team mates exchanging summer stories.  Off the train and into a horde – thousands of voices echoing through the station, and out of the “race” into the sun.

The footbridge is packed.  Elder Park is a picture.  “Popeye” cruises through a small pack of paddle boats.  Look up – and oh, it’s a beauty.  The southern end of the Oval towers above us but doesn’t overwhelm the scene.  The cathedral is visible – just – through a gap.  It’s still Adelaide, but it’s not, Jim, as we knew it.  It is a beautiful sight.  It is a precinct, it is a hub.  It is all of those modern urban design clichés and none of them.

The jarring note comes when you reach the Oval.  Music blares across the plaza; apparently this is part of the “match day experience”.  More like a wedding reception, actually, with a desperate DJ playing all the inappropriate songs and urging the crowd to dance, when all they want to do is chat with friends and relatives they haven’t seen for six months.  Inside the ground, Boom Crash Opera try to get the crowd “up”.  They fail – and rightly, too.  This is a footy match, and we’re not here for someone else’s random choice of music.

I’m in Bay 533 – up in the gods but not nosebleed territory.  Escalators to take me there; I’ve stayed in worse hotels, and I’ve certainly watched the footy in worse stadia.  It’s so new, and shiny, that I can’t help but wonder at the work that is going to have to be done to keep it glossy in ten years’ time.  There’s already a massive spider web on one of the light fittings.

The view from 533 is great – up high, to be sure, but just enough to see the game and the tactics unfold, without reducing the players to ants.  Yes, I like this place, I like it very much.  And, as it turns out, I like the game – very much.

From about 10 minutes in the Crows control proceedings and show us their new game.  Frantic attack on the ball.  Numbers to the contest, but not too many – there’s always an outside option.  Tackles are sticking – hallelujah!  Good decisions, quick movement.  The stats show Adelaide with fewer handballs than North, despite the lopsided possession count.  Lots of smart kicks.  The murmur from the crowd is constant – “oooh, good kick”.

It sticks in my throat, but I have to admit that Phil Walsh has brought a little Port Adelaide to my club.

The forward line works, just beautifully.  Walker, Betts, Jenkins and friends.  Click, click, click.  Tex is marking like a machine, and the awareness and passing off to each other is almost psychic.  Betts has a mini-me in Charlie Cameron – Charlie needs more polish, but his work rate and sheer love of getting the ball has made him a crowd favourite.

It’s one of those games where you avoid the eyes of opposition supporters in the breaks, for fear of grinning just a little too much.  There’s a guy in a North jumper with his arm in a cast.  So appropriate.

Our defence – there is the question mark, according to the pundits.  And really, they aren’t tested much today so that question stays unanswered.  At the start of the third they are sliced open, but when you’re getting badly smashed in the middle you can’t blame the back six.  So there’s no real answers to their strength as a group, but individually they look pretty much OK.  Our Kyles – Cheney and Hartigan – move with strength and confidence.  Talia is Talia and that’s more than enough.  Jaensch, Smith and others link up to bring it out to a zone in the centre that just belongs to the Crows today.

And North?  Oh, dear.  There is no explaining why they didn’t turn up today, when win or lose just about every other team came out to play in round 1.  They will cop it on the track this week and North fans should expect some real sting in the game, and possibly redemption, next week.

For North, it’s Round 1 next week.  For us – it’s Round 1 right now, and we’re top of the ladder.  We are contenders!


Adelaide         6.4       12.10   15.12   21.14   (140)
North Melb     2.1       3.1       9.4       9.9       (63)


Adelaide: Walker 6; Betts 4; Jenkins 3; Sloane, Dangerfield 2; Smith, Lynch, Laird, Cameron

North Melbourne: Higgins 4; Thomas 2; Bastinac, Petrie, Gibson


Adelaide: Walker, Dangerfield, Laird, Douglas, Sloane, Betts, Cheney

North Melbourne: Higgins, Goldstein, Cunnington

Umpires: Fisher, Nicholls, Mollison

Official crowd: 46,491

Our Votes: 3 Walker (A) 2 Dangerfield (A) 1 Laird (A)



  1. Rabid Dog says

    A good win indeed, but one win does not a premiership season make. Unlike Power supporters.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A good start full of hope thanks , Richard

  3. Richard- glad you enjoyed the footy. I gather there was much to like.

    I do continue to despair at our inaccurate goal-kicking, which I reckon cost us games in 2014.

    Liked your report. Thanks.

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