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The Boring-est Round in History

Touch of the Fumbles

A round of thrashings throws up some overdue good news for the Crows, and some intrigue for a Port team that would be likable but for one reason, says Tom Richardson.

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Well, I’m confused.

After four AFL rounds, the only things we can say with certainty are that Hawthorn are, to borrow the late Robert Palmer’s phrase, simply irresistible, and that — to quote indie folksters Belle & Sebastian — the Blues are still blue.

Little else is easily explained at the conclusion of what will now forever be collectively remembered as “The Most Boring Round of Football in AFL History”.

If we take each match as an impartial observer, there is little to recommend any of them, although only the most spiteful curmudgeon (or any given Carlton supporter) would begrudge Melbourne their drought-breaking win.

Beyond that was just a litany of one-sided non-contests; by Saturday night, about three quarters in, I did something I have never willingly done before. I turned the football off. There were two games on offer, West Coast getting mauled by the Cats or the Hawks eclipsing the Suns, and yet I could find no fascination or even enthusiasm in either of them (though, to be fair, if I’d realised just how rampant Hawthorn’s last quarter would be, I probably wouldn’t have been able to resist.)

As the competition stands now, there is Clarkson’s mob, then considerable daylight, then (perhaps) Geelong, who just keep turning up and winning, against all commonsense, then more daylight and a glut of maybes and wannabes.

It’s amazing that “rebuilding” projects at clubs like Melbourne and Richmond seem to take about 20 years; the Cats seem to do it during the course of one slow quarter.

The Tigers and the Blues remain the basket-cases we’ve come to know and love.

The Saints, Demons and Lions are genuinely rebuilding (as opposed to being just plain hopeless), but are coming from a long way back and things will probably get worse before they get better for at least one of them.

The Suns and the Giants, while both improving, remain works in progress.

There’d be much to like about Port Adelaide, if they weren’t … well … Port Adelaide.

Teams such as Essendon, West Coast, the Bulldogs, Collingwood and even the Dockers seem like week-to-week propositions in 2014. And there’s something very wrong at Sydney, which makes the Crows’ drubbing last week at home all the more concerning. The Kangaroos, who took the Swans apart in the wet, are interesting; they looked lacklustre early this season, but things are clearly starting to click.

But in a weekend in which every contest was lop-sided, I’d grudgingly concede that probably makes the Power’s complete annihilation of the Lions at Adelaide Oval the most compelling spectacle. It was, at least, a genuine bloodbath, rather than your bog-standard thrashing.

I said last week it was hard to get a handle on Port Adelaide’s form; they had played three non-finalists for two wins and a loss. As it turns out, the jury may still be out on two of those “non-finalists”; and while the Brisbane Lions won’t have to worry about double booking anything in September for quite some time yet, the Power, to be fair, can’t choose their opponents. They can simply beat them and beat them well; which they duly did.

It will be two more weeks before they pit themselves against a genuine contender, and I must admit I’m intrigued. There’d be much to like about Port Adelaide, if they weren’t … well … Port Adelaide.

But that’s enough objectivity.

Yes, it might have been an entirely forgettable affair. Yes, it might have been pencilled in as a win since the fixture was published last October. And yes, it leaves us none the wiser about where we might end up come September. But all that aside, the Crows have broken their duck. And they did it well, playing hard and fluent football away from home, and they kept it up. So well, in fact, that at a point late on Sunday, many of us started checking the dusty recesses of our memory (or the even-dustier recesses of our AFL Records) as to whether there’d ever been an occasion when both Adelaide AFL teams won by 100-plus points on the same weekend. In the event, there still hasn’t been; Brodie Martin, Adelaide’s starting sub and the freshest legs on the ground at Etihad, shanked a running shot on goal, and the Saints rebounded to cut their losing margin to a “respectable” 86 points.

But after this, the Most Boring Round of Football in AFL History, such milestones are mere window dressing, and none of it really matters.

We have this week to ponder whether Tom Lynch has done enough to lace up for GWS and attempt to better his 10-goal heroics of last year.

I still have no idea how this season is shaping up for Adelaide (a lacklustre mid-table finish beckons as the most plausible scenario).

It’s entirely unclear whether this win over the lowly Saints was a much-needed percentage-booster or merely a glorious anomaly. And right at this moment, none of it matters.

Sometimes a win is enough. We’re on the board, and that’s something. A very good something.

Tom Richardson is InDaily’s political commentator and Channel Nine’s state political reporter.

On Mondays during the AFL season the Crows tragic will be found in InDaily’s sport section, writing this lament – or chronicle of triumph. Time will tell.

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