Round 10 – Carlton v Adelaide: Blue Croweater on Devonshire St

Wasn’t meant to watch any of the Carlton vs Adelaide game on Saturday. I was still hurting from the round before when I made the bus ride down from work to the SCG, only to watch the Blues go down by ten goals or so by those terribly annoying Swans (and be non-plussed by the non-event that was Adam Goodes celebrating a goal) with four mid strengths sunk in despair. And more importantly, it was the birthday of my Newcastle Knights-devoted fiancé and we were enjoying a typically pleasant Sydney winter afternoon by inspecting the old Mortuary Station near Central (next stop from there: the dead centre of the city.)

But we ended up at the Dove & Olive in Surry Hills with that striped Saturday afternoon Sydney sunlight filtering through, with the rest of the afternoon to kill before dinner. We got there at half time, to discover the brutally sudden ending (possibly?) of Chris Judd’s footy career has occurred in the opening quarter.

Mentally, as a Blues barracker, I was already prepared that 2015 would be a final flourish for the one of the more excellent footballers of the era – not to mention one of the gentlemen of the game – but the crash landing on the left leg feels incredibly cruel. Surely a Blue (and an Eagle) of Judd’s calibre deserved to walk into the sunset after a fine send off in Round 23. Maybe he’ll bounce back for 2016, as an old man of thirty-two, maybe…

Surprisingly, the Navy Blues were down by nineteen. A mere nineteen. This is how bad things have become when this is the cause of some internal celebration. A schooner (Mismatch Session Ale) and a pizza ordered. We’d watch the Blues go down and then head elsewhere for the Knights at home.

The pizza appeared and it was terribly delicious – it was the first time I got a pizza at the Dove & Olive, and it was not expecting it to be exceptionally tasty. Even more surprisingly: the Blues of Carlton were playing football. Energetic, surging, competitive football.

Choking on the craft beer, I could barely believe my eyes as Captain Murphy lead the charge from the front and the comeback kid Kreuzer attacked and attacked. Was this the same Blues that I saw last week just on the other side of South Dowling? No way, just no way.

Maybe it was another week under the new leadership of John Barker. See, I told you Malthouse was the problem! (The Triggster and LoGiudice is still part of the problem.) Who would have thought: maybe a bloke with a positive attitude who might relate to the Gen Ys on the team could get us somewhere?

Early days, steady on. But…we kicked five goals to two that term. Only four points down at the last break.

Another schooner of the craft stuff (Ironbridge April Sun) and we go forth for the fourth with some confidence. I should mention that the telly is muted – this is the front bar of a hipster pub in Surry Hills, guys – which means the emotions and uncut, undiluted. Carlton has the momentum against the Camry Crows…

Here we go, here we go, CAMRY CROOOOWS!!

There’s a few teams that I’ve seen a lot at the ground. Carlton, of course. South Adelaide, definitely. I’ve seen enough of the Swannies at the SCG, thank you. My dad’s family hails from the LeFevre Peninsula, which means plenty of Port Adelaide.

But in the one AFL-team town days of ’91-’96, Dad had a Football Park membership. And despite being a Port family on the paternal side, the Crows were the side to get behind. Even my proudly Port nanna was caught up from day one – even at an incredibly very small age, I can remember the excitement after ‘The News’ had announced the team would be known as the…Sharks.

Friday 22 March, 1991 – one of the 44,902 for the First Night of the Crows at Football Park…was me. Next to Dad up in the members stand, with one of those incredibly awesome snags in bread that they used to serve at the bottom of it.

The noise that night was incredible. I reckon you could have heard it all the way in the city. And it only doubled in fury when Dermie knocked out Chris McDermott.

Pent up South Australian nationalism, stoked up by the mechanics of that malarkey involving Port and the VFL, must have stunned the high flying Hawks of the time. Knocked them down with a Scud Missile – Eddie Hocking, take a bow – all the way to a eighty-six point win. Suddenly, Rodney Maynard was a big name in the schoolyard.

It turns out that the Crows were not to bulldoze the competition – apparently, they weren’t great when playing in the mud fields of Victoria – but there were quite a few joyful days and nights at Footy Park with Dad during the early years of the blue, gold and red. All that crowd noise and very soon, the cries of Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed burst through the night sky as the Viking from Fish Creek (via Woodville) picked up the yellow pill on the western wing. Eddie Hocking had the best night vision in the league and Nanna said it’s because he ate his carrots.

Remember the Crows’ first club song? Of course you don’t – because everyone sang here we go, here we go, Camry Crows!! until someone thought it was too commercialised and they replaced it was The Pride of South Australia.

There was the Camry Chicken mascot – easily the worst mascot associated with any sporting club in Australia with the worst moves this side of Andrew Jarman’s freaky dancing – in tandem with the Crow mascot, whose highlight was before Round 1, 1992, with a reinactment of Nigel Smart’s infamous firewalk. (Only the third most embarrassing thing to happen to Nigel – behind not winning Norwood for the Liberals and that State of Origin jumper debarcle.)

And then everyone got swept up in Modra-mania in ’93. (Alas, Scotty Hodges’ eleven against Geelong in ’92 is only a trivia question now…) Injuries in the school yard quadrupled overnight thanks to those high flying antics.

Later on, I took on loyalties from the maternal side of the family and the Port has its national team. As an adult, I did take up the chance to watch a few Crows games at Footy Park not involving Carlton, thanks to a friend with a membership in the Northern stand. And realised just how irritating it was not being able to take your drink back to the stand.

Those memories remind me that no matter how much I can get away from it – barracking a Victorian team, living in New South Wales – I do remain a Croweater at heart.

…even my fiancé, who I’ve converted from Essendon barracker (with a little help from Hirdy and his intransigent ways) to sort of true blue, is excited. We can win this.

CASBOOOOULT! Levi Casboult, I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about you on Twitter. A real ripper from the boundary. We. Are. In. Front. After all the humiliation of the last few weeks, victory is in sight.

It feels unfamiliar. A close game that we can win. I’ve not felt this nervous energy for a long time – even that win against the Saints was tinged with dread that we’d totally stuff it up. But now after all the pain of recent trashings, just being competitive is an immense thrill. Even more exciting is the footy being played by the Blue boys: it’s energetic and competitive. A million miles away already from the lethargic boundary hugging of the The Malthouse Era.

Nervous minutes pass. Competitive minutes. The ball bounces around between two hungry teams. Carlton to bury the recent past. One senses the fear in the Crows – could you imagine, losing to the Blues in 2015? – and their nervous tension, pushing their bodies even further.

The deadlock is broken by a Tom Lynch goal. They’re on a few points up, however! But in less than two minutes later, the ball is marked by Eddie…

I’m a huge Eddie Betts fan. One of the best I’ve seen of his type, the mythical “small forward.” Naturally, I was terribly sad to see him leave Princes Park but if he had to go to another team, then a club whose colours I wore as a small lad probably wasn’t a bad one for him to end up at. Wasn’t like he was going to Collingwood or Essendon or anything.

Bang. Through the big sticks. I’m not actually liking Eddie today.

Dennis Armfield outsmarts the murder of Crow defenders and keeps the game alive with a clever goal. Then the opposite of clever appears in the form of an Australian Football League field umpire, who allows what could almost pass for the stabbing of Sam Docherty, allowing Josh Jenkins to boot another one.

But Barker’s Blues aren’t ones for giving up, it seems. Just a minute later – Nick Graham with a smashing goal on the run. There’s still plenty of time to win this. The nervous energy and the craft beer flows through my body. My fiancé is nervous but sure we can win this. She’s trying to distract herself from the Knights too; according to Twitter, Canberra already have got two tries.

Another arm wrestle out in the middle. Both sides are tiring yet playing desperate footy. A game you’d be very happy to watch as a neutral. I’m a mess, a nervous mess, I’ve finished up the schooner. I want us to win. I terribly want us Blues to win.

…and with 2:24 to go, it’s Josh Jenkins again. That wraps it up for the Pride of South Australia.

Carlton didn’t win the four points but this current crop of Blues won back respect. True faith is restored after many tiring weeks. It’s the bye next week and sure, Port is up after that. But if the boys are capable of playing like that, who knows what Barker’s Blues will be like in two weeks? They won’t win but it certainly won’t be another humiliation like the last game against the Power…

I note that Barker said the right things after the game. I’ve got confidence in this guy, I must say.

We walk down the street to where the Gaelic Club used to be to watch the second half of the Knights hosting the Raiders. (I note that Canberra is wearing one of the worst rugby league jumpers seen for a very long time.) It’s a tough year in our household – another loss to the suffering Newcastle Knights. They don’t deliver a present to my fiancé on her birthday.

I order another drink. In honour of the Crows’ win, and because it’s only the decent beer on tap here, I get a Coopers Pale. I ask for a schooner and get a pint.

About The Philby

Inconsistent contrarian. Barracker of Carlton FC and South Adelaide FC. Resident of Sydney. Holder of the record of shortest umpiring career with the South Australian Cricket Association.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Philby, as a local during those early Crow years (91-mid 94), I got to see plenty of that stupid chook; it wasn’t a patch on Rocket Rooster.

    The Camry Crows song was a ripper (or not), it was unofficial at first, but took on a life of its own. Would we have been the Celica Sharks?

    From what I could tell, that effort was nearly as good as a win for most Blues fans.

    Huge pity about Judd.

  2. The Philby says

    Swish – even at single digits, even I knew that chicken was shockingly naff. One for the long list of ill-thought out Crows promotions.

    Can’t deny here we go, here we go got the crowd involved. Helpfully encouraged every third quarter it seemed with the lyrics up on the South east scoreboard.

    If only one of the local makers from Motown SA put their sponsorship dollars up. And people remembered what the state marsupial is. The Mitsubishi Magna Southern Hairy Nosed Wombats would have been a treat…

    Think I put the mockers on Juddy. Terribly sad way for a champion and a classy bloke to finish up his on-field career.

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