Will you damn well take the game on you Crows!


Back. Sideways. Sideways. Back. Sideways. Back.


No, it’s not the latest dance craze, nothing as entertaining as that.


It’s the pattern of the Crows’ ball movement, the ‘Slow Sherrin Shuffle’, and it’s driving the fans crazy.


Exhibit A: last Friday night, second quarter, Docklands.


Ben Rutten takes the kick-in after a behind scored by the Western Bulldogs. He spots up Brad Symes in the back pocket with a 20 metre chip. Symes pops it 15 metres upfield to Andy Otten. Otten goes 20 metres across the face of goal to Matthew Jaensch in the other pocket.

He sends it directly back to Rutten, who again dabs it up the boundary to Symes.

Six kicks and the ball is still in the Crows’ defensive 50.


Symes looks upfield for an option. There’s none. It’s static, stagnant, supine. So it’s sideways again.


He ambles back towards his own goal, again looking to switch the play.

But the Dogs have manned up. The press is on.


The television commentator Dennis Cometti sounds incredulous with what he’s having to describe.


“They look to suddenly run out of ideas. They dry up.”


Symes eventually punts across goal to Graham Johncock, but it’s a bust. Out on the full. And the Dogs greedily gobble their gift. Kick, kick, goal.


The four-time premiership coach Leigh Matthews is unimpressed.


“As soon as a team goes across the fullback line and then back again, as soon as they’re going back for a third time the pressure is building, building, building – and that becomes a bad turnover,” he says.


“It’s interesting isn’t it? At what point does a defender, or a defence really, have to work out well we’re pinned in the back 50 here and the percentages are now we’ve just got to get the ball 50, 60 metres down the line at least to a contest?”


On ABC Grandstand, Matthews’ former Hawthorn teammate Peter Schwab is in little doubt about the answer.


“He should have just come down the line, wait for someone to hit up again, get further away from your own goal,” he says.


“They were just chipping it around, chipping it around and then Symes just panicked and went back, tried to switch the play and a disastrous kick which set up the goal.”


Cue groans from Crows fans in lounge rooms across South Australia.


They’ve seen it before, as has Cometti.


He offers up Exhibit B:


“I just remember last week a similar situation. Jaensch was bouncing the ball across half-back and was tackled by Josh Kennedy.”


And the result was the same. Free kick, Eagles goal.


“Self-inflicted by Adelaide”, as Cometti succinctly puts it.


So why aren’t the Crows going long to a contest?


Coach Neil Craig says the playing list is the most talented the club has assembled.


Maybe it’s time he told them to start trusting that talent and start taking the game on.



  1. johnharms says

    James, Always good to hear you on the wireless. Thanks for the piece. If you take Adelaide out of it, and insert Geelong, you have the Cats in 2006 precisely. Is that a good sign for the Crows?

  2. Tony Robb says

    Hi james,
    Clearly the crows dont have the leg speed to break the defenive fwd pressure and, in turn, to beat the up field zone. The magpies run off their hald back line with ease and open up the fwd 50 very quickly. Carlton are doing the same this year and have enormous fwd pressure inside 50 to stop the ball coming out. Some more sprints on the paddocks on less Chardies in the locker room might do the trick.

  3. Steve Healy says

    Which end of the ground did you sit at?

  4. jcoventry says

    John: One can only hope!

    Tony: You’re spot on in regards to the Crows’ defenders’ lack of pace, but you don’t necessarily have to have leg speed to move the ball quickly.

    Steve: I was watching from home, but when at Docklands I always sit at the Coventry end… naturally!

  5. Steve Healy says

    Haha cheers, I should’ve read it more carefully, just couldn’t wait to say that line!

    If there’s any hope for the Crows they were travelling badly up until halfway last year but started winning games…although it’s fair to say with your injury and coaching troubles that won’t happen

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