SANFL – Norwood vs Crows – the Aaron Keating Cup

Another Friday night at the Parade. The ground slowly barely half fills as the bevvied up young men file out of the local pubs and occupy the ‘Sponsor’s Product Hill’ and ‘Sponsor’s Product Corner’. This evening the challenge is a bit different. It is the inaugural meeting of the Redlegs and the Crows as they compete for the ‘Clark’s older brother Aaron Keating Cup’. Despite only playing six games for the Crows and around 40 for Norwood, in a glorious stretch of nine days in 1997 Keating won a premiership with both clubs. Brett James also has claims to cup naming rights, having achieved that feat as well and played a combined 310 games for both clubs and playing in both of the Crows’ premierships. But who am I to argue with the namers of the cup.

Tonight it seems a long way from that 1997 glory week with both clubs struggling this year. I suspect the lack of wins concerns one club more than the other. Norwood are 2-4 and appear to be lacking some depth after having lost a full team (plus bench) to the AFL and retirement over the last two seasons. Adelaide are 1-5 and have been even more so lacking in depth with their reliance on top up players due to injuries on the AFL list. A win is important for Norwood to possibly make fifth spot whereas it may not be a priority for the Crows.

The crowd is disappointing tonight, maybe 3000. While the vast majority of Norwood supporters also follow the Crows (given the other option in town) the boys with the red socks most certainly get the warmer reception as they enter the arena. The Footy Budget is getting a bit of a workout to identify the Crows’ top up players. A few too many familiar faces in their lineup for my liking – Otten, Reilly (dropped this week on 199 AFL games), Petrenko, Porplyzia, McKernan and Grigg, signalling some depth beginning to emerge for the AFL side. With Charlie Cameron’s strong debut the night before against Collingwood (his double side step that led to Jenkins’s just before the siren (Eddie!) goal almost justifying selection on its own) ensured the Crows should be able to have decent talent available at SANFL level.

Deprived of the company of the elder statesman, who is feeling the 40 degree warmth in Spain, it is only the brothers Brown who are in attendance tonight (at least it has been an anthropogenically enhanced 27 degrees in Adelaide today). Both driving, it is the sponsor’s mild ale that is keeping the throat lubricated this evening.

Things do not start to plan. Norwood nemesis, Ian Callinan (Jack Oatey medallist for Central Districts in the 2010 Grand Final, he kicked four goals and broke Simon Phillips’s jaw that day) kicks the Crows’ first in his 100th SANFL game. Soon after blinking we are 18 minutes in and the Crows lead 32 to zip. The Redlegs forward 50 entries are all going to an outnumbered and overwhelmed Michael Newton. The Crows are treating this as a Globetrotter’s training run and the Redlegs are playing the part of the Washington Generals.

Enter Simon Phillips. Late in the first he creates Norwood’s first two goals and early into the second brings them to within a kick – he is everywhere doing everything, if only he could do that consistently he would be an AFL star. Soon after, ‘Juice’ Newton puts us in front and from that point on it is only Norwood turnovers that give the Crows an avenue to goal.

The clearly audible siren sounds for half time and Redlegs enter the tunnel in front by three points, but looking very much the better team. Along with watching the Hope Valley Auskick kids, I ponder that tonight’s game presents Crows (AFL) supporting Redlegs fans, such as most of the people at the game, the opportunity to justifiably dislike Crows players we have less justifiably disliked over the years. McKernan (by a fair margin) and Petrenko are most clearly in the crosshairs tonight.

The third quarter sees more Juice than the Riverland and a ship from South America combined as Newton kicks four straight, repeatedly teasing the left hand goal post at the southern end but always on the correct side of it. Roocke and Wilson (all 61kg of him) start to show a bit and Timmy Webber continues burrowing under as the Redlegs break away.

Into the last quarter and Anthony Wilson gets into a footrace in an open 50 with some poor Crows defender. Not surprisingly the play ends with him running into goal and slotting his first in the red and blue – a very popular goal. Good local footy moment – Jace ‘son of Olaf’ Bode gives a team mate an invective filled spray on the southern outer flank. Such is our laughter, that he takes the time to turn around and explain to us why. Baulderstone and Dawe have control of the ruck and by the time Newton gets his eighth 20 minutes in, both teams shut down for the night, Norwood 31 points to the good. Redlegs’ tackling has certainly been effective but the Crows only seem interested when they can get the ball into the open, which isn’t often.

Game over, the ceremonial stroll across the ground ensues – still lusciously green before the winter muddy square emerges. Redlegs still in the hunt and the Crows still don’t seem to care. There are a few senior Crows players who should be pushing for AFL selection that aren’t and will need to make other plans for 2015. I would also imagine the Crows will be drafting a ruckman at season’s end – they could do a lot worse than Baulderstone or Brooksby at South Adelaide. Lyons, Reilly and Grigg make the strongest case for promotion but are not bashing the door down. With one AFL reserves side on top of the ladder and the other on the bottom, it’s difficult not to think both are compromising the competition in their own way at the moment.

Redlegs / Crows honour roll (at least 50 games for both clubs as player/coach)
Neil Craig – 216 Redlegs (124 player, 92 coach), 2 premierships – 166 Crows
Nathan Bassett – 140 Redlegs (48 player, 92 coach), 2 premierships – 210 Crows
Brett James – 234 Redlegs, 1 premiership – 76 Crows, 2 premierships
Rodney Maynard – 157 Redlegs – 81 Crows
David Pittman – 69 Redlegs – 131 Crows, 2 premierships
Matthew Robran – 54 Redlegs – 130 Crows, 2 premierships
Andrew Jarman – 51 Redlegs, 1 premiership – 110 Crows
Kris Massie – 56 Redlegs – 88 Crows

About Dave Brown

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


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    I would have to barrack for Norwood against the Crows seconds. Must get back to Adelaide one day and go to a game at Norwood Oval where I remember seeing Peter Aish, Peter Vivian, Bill Wedding Bob Fosdike et al

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Browny I couldn’t go Friday night but in all honesty I didn’t mind as I detest having the afl teams in with a completely different agenda it disgusts me that there is not a national res competition

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Tom Warhurst was stiff to miss out on the honour roll

  4. Dave Brown says

    Wait until the new clubrooms are built in where the Baulderstone Stand is Peter. Will likely be a good view from the function area.

    Will be more of a challenge this Friday night, Malcom.

    Yep Swish, Tom Jr only came up 48 Crows games short. Most unlucky, given the criteria, was James Thiessen who played 119 for Norwood (incl 1997 premiership) and 44 for Crows (incl 1998 premiership). Both men still attend Redlegs games, too.

  5. Peter Schumacher says

    Malcolm, that is a really good point about there not being a national reserves comp. I have never thought of that but I reckon that it screams out to happen.

  6. Thanks Dave. Down at Wayville the day after the ’97 Grand Final the Crows were introduced to the crowd. I’d like to think Aaron Keating was channelling Muhammed Ali when he simply said, ” I am here. You are here.” I don’t think he was able to say more than these six words. Pretty sure he didn’t get six touches the day before!

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