Round 22 – Adelaide v Sydney: Footy positive

So, I’m trying to stay footy positive – loving football in whatever form it comes to me. When fellow knacker Ben Footner proffers a spare ticket to the big Friday night game, I jump at the chance pending approval from the Home Office which is uniformly obliging. I’m trying not to get nervous, I want to be intrigued. The Crows have nothing riding on this game, except it’s bloody Sydney. Sydney of the Tippetts and Buddys (why do we pluralise individuals?) and the really effectively developing rookies having blown their salary cap on two players. You’d hate ‘em if they weren’t so goddamn admirable.

The Crows have little to play for. A top two spot locked in, the most they have on the line is pride and a strong desire to keep Sydney out of the top four. Conversely, Sydney will be desperate for a win – despite the Bulldogs’ pyrotechnics last year, teams can more or less write off their finals chances if they don’t make the top four. Giving the rest of the competition a six game head start was a bold move. I want Pyke to play the straightest of bats – run out a standard Adelaide performance; see what Sydney do and use it to plan for the finals or next year, whichever comes first.

So, as it turns out, this game means nothing and heaps, all at once. Regardless, anticipation is high as the teeming, mostly Crowy, masses make their way into the ground. I wait by Russell Ebert, the bronze one, for the brothers Footner (for once this instruction could have the potential to be misconstrued as the real Russell Ebert was outside the ground at the unveiling of the Ken Farmer statue. He seemed unwilling to stand still while people waited next to him, however).

 

A few palate cleansing ales at the ‘craft’ beer bar and it’s into the match. Seats on the eastern wing, the perfect vantage point for a touch of theatre. And theatre it is – the Swans come roaring out of the blocks in the first quarter. Cleaner with the footy in all its slippery glory and testing out poor Alex Keath with his handful of games against Buddy with his many more and all of his Buddyness. Keath gets a useful lesson that the megastars of the game are allowed to get into your back without penalty (something that Eddie Betts has taken advantage of over the years too, mind).

10 minutes in, everyone’s favourite former Balfours spokesperson marks and goals. Despite the general chorus of light hearted booing, the two Crows supporters beside me politely clap his effort. It is worthwhile remembering football crowds, even those not in Melbourne/Sydney, are not an homogeneous mass, seething with resentment about past injustices, imagined and real. Be careful judging people by the most banal among them, lest next time the shoe is on the other foot.

Despite the Crows turning around the contested ball deficit, and a late Sloane goal, two early second quarter goals put the Swans 29 points up and even the most ebullient of Crows fans, Mr Footner, warns of ‘Barney Rubble’. But things are turning: McVeigh is no longer free to mop up as the plus one in defence; the umpires have recognised that Heeney is holding onto Sloane like a blonde headed koala joey to its blonde headed mother; the Crows are pressuring the Swans out of the footy and finding space out the back. By half time only poor kicking (and comparatively good kicking by the Swans) has the Crows behind by eight points.

Early in the third the Crouch boys have control in the middle. Tom Lynch puts the Crows in front four minutes in. But then Buddy kicks THAT goal. The immediate reaction of everyone around was he ran too far. A look up to the replay screen confirms it – 14 Buddy steps at full pelt would cover at least 20 metres. His decision to take an extra few steps should have doomed him, but it did not. But what theatre! Like a speccy with the hands on the shoulders or where the player doesn’t quite have handle on the ball, I don’t mind umpires that lean towards the spectacular.

Despite the Crows’ having the better of general play again the kicking is the difference and the Swans win the quarter by three points. Like an Atlas Moth, the crowd is hard to pin down. We are witnessing a ripper game, it doesn’t matter if we lose but we sure as heck want to win. The centre dominance continues and when Jenkins goals halfway through the last, we look like their measure has been gained.

Play is getting ragged with space opening up. This is why everything that happens next is so inexplicable. Multiple Crow inside 50s are poorly considered falling into the lap of Sydney’s plus one and then THAT 50 occurs – plenty has been said in the meantime and the umpires have admitted they got it wrong, so moving on. Sam Reid obliges for the Swans with another tricky finish given the conditions.

Soon after Rory Atkins, once again, picks out Sydney’s plus one and they rush the ball down for a Papley goal. The Swans have transitioned the ball spectacularly and have taken every opportunity that has come their way. They are deserving winners – such spirit in an encounter that delivered more than could be expected. Half of me wants Pyke to unleash with a Terry Wallace like ‘spew up’ speech while the other half thinks he might just have got them for next time.

Remember last year when the Round 23 fixture between Adelaide and West Coast was the first Friday night fixture between two non-Victorian teams in something like 10 years (despite the fact it should happen four times a year if the draw wasn’t rigged)? This is what people want to watch on a Friday night, tight, tough, close footy, and the footy positive side of me was fortunate to witness such a contest in the flesh (thank you, Mr Footner).

 

Keen on an Adelaide premiership in 2017? You can already read about one here. Also, head on down to Tanunda on Thursday for the South Australian launch of the 2017 Women’s Footy Almanac.

About Dave Brown

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

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Our Achilles heel seems to be coping with the opposition loose player in defence (remember Sicily?), some dumb last quarter forays.

    Barrie should’ve kept his blue beanie on for that photo (think I saw one from another angle that had Michael Sexton lurking nearby)

  2. Ben Footner says

    Anytime Dave! Was a cracking game – and as Pyke said after the game – despite the loss, Adelaide are ready.

  3. Thanks Dave. Like many Crows fans I’ve rarely been happier with a narrow loss. Much to like about our approach.

    Bonus points for Atlas Moth reference!

  4. Ben Footner says

    BTW – “the Crouch boys have control in the middle” – looking forward to hearing that a bit more often this September / over the next few years. Could become a superb combination out of the middle in coming seasons.

  5. Excellent Dave love the Heeney koala line also yep agree the lack of composure and clear thinking going inside 50 was just as much a factor in the Crows loss as the poor goal kicking was

  6. Dave Brown says

    Thanks for the read and the comments folks. As you can tell from the piece, Swish, I spent most of my night watching what Sydney was doing 40m out from their defensive goal. It wasn’t rocket science and when McVeigh was forced up the ground I thought the Crows had effectively dealt with it. But that delivery in the last 10 minutes when there was plenty of space was just bizarre.

    Thanks again Ben. Love your pro-Pyke perspective and, yes, the Crouch boys are threatening to become the combination we had hoped – and Matt’s still only 22.

    Thanks Mickey, I find lepidopterology is a largely untapped source of humour.

    Thankfully, something that can be quickly improved, Rulebook. Hopefully, along with the goalkicking.

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