Round 23: West Coast v Adelaide – The Last Hurrah at Subiaco (well not really)

So it all came down to this, one game between making the 8 and possibly having a clean out of coaches and players. One game where the margin mattered as much as the result, not just because of the style of play the WA public like to see from their team (well almost all of them, apologies to Docker fans) but because winning narrowly would see public hearts on the east coast beat true for the red and the blue. One game to basically send a grand servant of the game out in style, and they weren’t Sam Mitchell, Matt Priddis, Sam Butler or Drew Petrie. With no home finals and only a semi meaningful WAFL GF and a virtually meaningless battle for the Cormac McAnallen trophy left to play at Subiaco Oval, the last Sunday in August 2017 to many would have meant more than their version of the City to Surf (I ran in the half marathon this year, still bothered by calf issues I carefully finished in just over 2 hours having done next to no training in 5 weeks).

You could go through the list of what fans will not miss about playing matches at the ground. Small toilets with the queue close to outside the door, dodgy sound systems where you couldn’t hear anything and basically didn’t help the post game concert (more on that later), narrow corridors to get between the tiers or to the nearest food outlet to take advantage of the $2 pre match pies, bench seating in some of the old stands on the broadcast wing that give way to cramped seats in the old 3 tier stand. It was from there where I managed to secure a seat for the occasion, somehow not having to resort to legalised scalp….I mean the Ticketmaster resale site like many of the 39000 who crammed in would have. Seemed like a few of the people around me were thankful that I had the phone on a page where someone had the live ladder, for that would be more important than the scoreboard.

Despite Eddie Betts scoring the first goal of the day, it seemed the Eagles had the game itself well in hand. Obviously the Crows had nothing to play for after Geelong knocked over the love ch…GWS the previous night so they rested a couple of players knowing that it could backfire should they lose the prelim (1 game in 35 days potentially between Round 22’s game and the day of the preliminary final). It showed when they allowed the margin to blow out in the 3rd term to 41 points, which led to me not only saying that the Eagles were in front of Melbourne by a comfortable 19 points, but they were also close enough to even overhaul Essendon to finish 6th even if it meant facing Sydney at the SCG.

It was at that point when the Crows actually started to get going, trying to prove that their semi below strength team actually cared. It didn’t show on the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter despite a rare case of a meaningless review (given the kick was a behind but a free kick was in the goal square before the ball went through for a behind, the players were unable to take advantage of which the greatest was the free kick in the goal square, meaning Eddie Betts kicked his 2nd), but the crowd were sufficiently worried about the scenario knowing their team needed to stay positive and play to win rather than protect the lead. They were still in front of the curve when Paul Seedsman goaled reasonably early in the last, but after Josh Kennedy missed a number of chances to seal a finals birth and steal the Coleman from Buddy, Charlie Cameron streamed into an open goal to put Melbourne in front (strange to say when they weren’t playing). It was the most silent I’d heard a 39000 people gathering become. It seemed they knew the situation without me bellowing “Melbourne in the eight”, for nobody even tried to shut me up.

Yet it was probably 2 of the most maligned Eagles that salvaged the season and possibly their coach’s job. Lewis Jetta had a typical Jetta game, some decent play interrupted by “What The?” moments (ironic that I use a name of a segment made famous on a show hosted by a cousin of a former Dockers skipper isn’t it!), yet he was able to read the ball off a pack and stroll into an open goal to edge the Eagles back in front. Then with time running out and players playing as though the game margin was the actual finals margin of 3 points, Jack Darling who had a history of epic failures in pressure situations took what may be the final mark of the day at Subi running with the flight into the goal square and kicking the goal which would give the final margin of 9 points. Yes I’m aware the actual final margin was 29 but this game was being played against Melbourne.

It was the longest closing ceremony for a final round AFL match ever with every Eagles player walking onto the ground to farewell their home ground, as well as 4 colleagues (Petrie wasn’t confirmed until the day of the game, and the public probably wasn’t aware until post siren). It took forever for the bulk of the crowd to get onto the oval for one last kick to kick with Ross Wilson belting out Eagle Rock and some Mondo Rock songs in the background, and it could possibly be the last kick to kick on a WA elite footy stadium (as opposed to ground) for the new venue probably would be reluctant to allow it at least in the early part of its life to allow the turf to settle in properly. Settling into the new venue will be the furthest thing on the minds of the Eagles, for they have now given themselves a shot at some sort of redemption for it was the Elimination Final last year that saw the biggest disappointment at a ground now consigned to the history basket.

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to the new stadium with all the reports I’ve heard. Disappointingly I wasn’t able to sneak a look at the ground form a close proximity, but I had a clear view of the exterior from room 905 in the All Suites in Perth and again in the taxi to the airport that night. It’s something that even if it’s like a lot of other modern stadia in terms of charm and character it’s something that Perth really needs. If 39000 can make a hell of a racket farewelling the old girl, I can’t imagine how 60000 will sound in the brand new home.

MATCH DETAILS

WEST COAST 15.10.100
ADELAIDE 10.11.71

SCORERS
WC: Cripps 3.2, Hutchings 2.0, LeCras 2.0,Kennedy 1.4, Darling 1.0, Jetta 1.0, Petrie 1.0, Vardy 1.0, Redden 1.0, Shuey 1.0, Gaff 1.0, Yeo 0.1, Sheed 0.1, Barrass 0.1, RUSHED 0.1
ADEL: Betts 2.2, McGovern 2.0, Seedsman 1.2, M.Crouch 1.1, Cameron 1.0, Jenkins 1.0, Smith 1.0, Milera 1.0, Douglas 0.1, Knight 0.1, Lynch 0.1, Mackay 0.1, RUSHED 0.2

BEST
WC: Gaff, Mitchell, Shuey, Hurn, McGovern, Yeo
ADEL: Sloane, M.Crouch, B.Crouch, Laird, Jacobs

VOTES
3: Matt CROUCH (ADEL)
2: Sam MITCHELL (WC)
1: Shannon HURN (WC)

UMPIRES: Dean MARGETTS, Nathan WILLIAMSON, Shaun RYAN
CROWD: 39367 for the last time at Subiaco

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

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