The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 8 – Adelaide v Richmond: Falling into the trap of tempo footy

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!




Adelaide versus Richmond

7.10pm, Friday, May 18

AAMI Stadium, Adelaide



IT WAS CHAOS IN ADELAIDE ON THIS FRIDAY NIGHT. Football Park is a car-dominated venue and the 7.10pm peak hour timeslot gridlocked its access roads. For those who caught the Footy Express, a privately managed but publicly promoted bus service, we saw again the folly of outsourcing essential services. That operator left some fans stranded in the suburbs 20 minutes before game time. Many went home. Others arrived in their seats early in the second quarter. One person told a sorry tale about having to direct an untrained driver out of AAMI Stadium after the game. Another driver was unfamiliar with Australian currency. This is not good.


I saw the first goal from the fish-and-chips queue at the back of the stands. After a quick break from the centre bounce, Scott Thompson slotted it within 17 seconds. Adelaide’s second goal came at the four-minute mark. I was in my seat for that one, holding a $190/$50 betting slip for an Adelaide victory over 66 points.


The third goal came in the fifth minute and it was a pure gem. Ben Hudson tapped to the front of the Adelaide pack, where a midfielder flicked it on to Simon Goodwin, who was already moving past the mob at speed. After three steps, he was well clear and inside fifty. His long-raking left-foot drop punt was as pink as a baby lifted out of a bath. That goal took maybe seven seconds from the bounce. Goodwin punched the air as if he had just slotted the match-winner in an FA Cup.


“That’s how I used to kick my goals in schoolboy football,” I said to my beloved. She didn’t respond.


At three-zip, Richmond looked poleaxed, and out of place in the big league.


My bet was safe after just five minutes. I settled into the cold night, snuggling up against the warmth of 40,000 people. At a goal every three minutes, some records were about to be broken. I was going home with a fat wad.


The mighty plans of mice and men.


The Tigers closed the pathways, put a 12-minute brake on proceedings until Adelaide exploded again with two quick goals to be five-zip. And then the earth began to shift. Through strange umpiring decisions and defensive mistakes from the Crows, Richmond clawed their way back into the game.


At quarter time, Terry Wallace must have found the right thing to say. After the break, the Tigers ran and grafted and converted each forward movement into 11 shots at goal. They added five majors on the trot and forced Neil Craig to resort to his standard: tempo football.


Kicking backwards at the 20-minute mark of the second quarter for 10 uncontested marks in a row kills most games. It killed this one. A mate said: “It’s like a slap in the face, watching a team play attacking football, straight down the corridor and then, suddenly, stopping, and kicking backwards at such a long way from the final siren.”


It killed my bet, stone dead.


Adelaide turned a gallop into a canter into a funeral march. In that second half, an easy win became an arm wrestle between two dud teams. Duds? Here are some awful stats. Adelaide took 106 marks. Seven of them were contested. Richmond took 125 marks of which two were contested. Two! Danny Meyer and Daniel Jackson took one contested mark each but no one else soared over the pack. Can you believe that? Training drills and games are now almost indistinguishable, except that keener contests may well be happening on the training track.


Both teams kicked six goals in the last two quarters. Adelaide kicked 10 behinds to Richmond’s three and won by nine points in a contest that proved nothing to anyone. It was much worse than a draw. It was almost cheating – coaches cheating their players of their instinct and their ability and the purpose of their intensive skill training.


At the press conference I asked Wallace whether Adelaide’s tempo footy stopped Richmond’s momentum and won Craig the game or whether he thought that Craig’s tactic gave him an idea of how he could win that game.


Wallace said that Adelaide’s tactics were the same as those he used against them last year, successfully. When the tempo stuff started, he sent his runner out with the message that Adelaide was playing like this because they knew they could be beaten.


“You have to use the psychology as much as you can,” he said, with a look on his face that said that he didn’t expect anyone other than myself to believe him.


He nearly pulled it off. Craig manipulated a skinny and risky victory. Like Mark Williams against Richmond the previous week, Craig behaved as if he thought a slaughter against the worst team ever would not benefit his campaign.


I should stop betting on the big margins for this team. Maybe I should stop betting on football, full stop. These days, I think, racing is not the only sport where the jockey decides to jump off his mount mid-race. Perhaps I should stick with the dogs – those little horses without anyone on their backs telling them what to do.



Adelaide     7.1     8.5    11.10   14.15 (99)

Richmond     3.3     8.3      9.3       14.6 (90)



Adelaide: Welsh 5, Bock, Griffin 2, Bassett, Douglas, Goodwin, Knights, Thompson.
Richmond: Richardson 3, Howat, Meyer 2, Deledio, Foley, Jackson, King, Pettifer, Polak, Polo.



Adelaide: Welsh, Hudson, Griffin, Shirley, Thompson, Goodwin, McLeod, Edwards.
Richmond: Pattison, J. Bowden, Foley, King, Richardson.


Wallace (Richmond) 200 games as coach.


Rosebury, Sully, Ryan.


Welsh (A) 3, Goodwin (A) 2, Griffin (A) 1.


Bassett (A) 3, Goodwin (A) 2, Griffin (A) 1.





For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.



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