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Touch Of The Fumbles - We freeze as one

Touch of the Fumbles

A special Friday edition of Tom Richardson's regular football rant, with much to rant about - in particular the worst goalkicking performance in Adelaide's history and the eternal spectre of the one who got away.

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I’m back!

Did you miss me? No? Fair enough.

Anyway, I’m back now and I’m not happy.

Pissed off, in fact.

Why, you ask? How can I not be happy about the Crows winning five games straight?

Well, quite.

I know I should be happy. Everyone thinks we’re destined for the top four. Hell, even I have a sneaking suspicion we’re destined for the top four, and I am never optimistic.

And nor am I overly annoyed about our feculent goal-kicking, which saw us kick a comical 28 behinds against North Melbourne – a club record, if you don’t mind (it’s always good to set new PBs).

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Kyle Hartigan takes on Ben Brown. Photo: Michael Errey, InDaily.

I toyed with the idea of sitting it out last night, anticipating an Adelaide Oval that looked more like Glastonbury. For a while there I almost resolved that the only elements I was inclined to brave were the kind that fire up a kettle.

Unfortunately, the Crows’ radar was even worse than the Bureau of Meteorology’s.

But, having remembered that I don’t drink tea anyway, I made it along, and fortunately – despite the blustery chill – the promised deluge never eventuated.

Still, it was damn cold. We freeze as one.

Unfortunately, the Crows’ radar was even worse than the Bureau of Meteorology’s.

But that’s cool. A win is a win, and a win that annoys Brad “Did I say that or just think it” Scott is sweeter still.

(I wonder if Brad caught up with Don Pyke after the game for a wistful chat about their shared love for umpires?)

And even though North’s season is quickly going south, it’s not a win we should take for granted. Ben Cunnington may have a last name that sounds like an elaborate swear word, but he’s a pretty handy player.

At least Tex reminded us that while he may not be the world’s most sensitive social media aficionado, he can still kick a ball quite a long way, occasionally even in the right direction.

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Tex pondering his next Tweet. Photo: Michael Errey, InDaily.

And we won despite a piece of play by David Mackay that is easily the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of football, when he snared a free kick for a solid tackle, only to pass the ball backwards OVER THE HEAD of defender Jake Lever to gift Lindsay Thomas a goal.

So yeah. Counting our blessings.

Why, then, is all not well in Fumbleland?

Why else?

It’s Paddy.

Paddy Sodding Dangerfield.

Yes, I hear you say, we’ve heard it all before. We’re sick of hearing about him. Move on. Get over it.

And I want to. Really. But I can’t.

It’s like living next door to your ex-girlfriend.

You’re constantly reminded about what you’re missing out on.

Does he ever stop smiling? Patrick Dangerfield and Steven Motlop share a laugh at the Crows' expense. Photo: Ben Macmahon, AAP.

Paddy. Dislike. Photo: Ben Macmahon, AAP.

Before the bye, our last quarter charge against West Coast was one of the most galvanising, energising and (hopefully) season-defining moments of Adelaide’s year.

And yet, no sooner had I turned off the telly than my enthusiasm was dampened by reading about Dangerfield’s lazy 48 disposal return in the Cats’ win over the Kangaroos.

I refreshed my screen a few times, assuming that this might be a typo that would be corrected at some point.

But no, there it was. 48 possessions.

In fact, to be precise: 48 disposals, 13 marks, 13 clearances, 11 inside 50s and two goals.

And those 48 disposals came at an Adelaide-baiting 83.3 per cent efficiency, making them quite useful to his chosen team. Which is Geelong, if you’d forgotten.

Indeed, he’s led the Cats’ disposal count for each of their last three games – all of them victories over fellow top eight sides.

So, yeah, it’s great that we’re winning games. And it’s great that we didn’t get completely screwed in the Dangerfield trade.

But let’s put this in perspective. None of Milera, Menzel or Gore made our team last night – but imagine if that team still had Dangerfield running around.

We’d be having an “Essendon 2000” kind of season. Untouchable.

It’s fair to say those narrow losses against the Roos, Hawthorn and the Bulldogs would likely have been avoided. And the one side that genuinely and thoroughly outplayed us was Geelong – and they wouldn’t have had Dangerfield!

So we would have conceivably hit the halfway mark of the season having played every other top eight side, without dropping a game.

Damn you Paddy!

After that West Coast game, Rory Sloane moved into second spot on the AFL Coaches’ Association player of the year leaderboard – behind ol’ mate Patrick Dangerfield. Eddie Betts also (briefly) moved into the top 10. Imagine having the two best players of the year in one team. Oh wait, I don’t have to – because as of this week, Joel Selwood has knocked Sloaney off the number two spot.

Damn you Paddy – damn you to hell!

Our first season ‘post-Paddy’ has been a bit like last night’s weather – everyone braced for a predicted downfall that never came

Sloane’s season is a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – like a human battering ram, he keeps getting pummelled and poleaxed, and then shrugs it off because it’s just a flesh wound.

He’s stood up, as have many in the Adelaide side, to ensure that our first season “post-Paddy” has been a bit like last night’s weather – everyone braced for a predicted downfall that never came.

But it could have been so much more.

Hell, we might even win the premiership this year, and I’ll still feel a pang of regret that we could’ve snared next year’s as well, but for the loss of the league’s best player.

Still, there’s always consolation. And this year, the consolation is that at least we’re not Port Adelaide.

Remember when Power fans ridiculed us for finishing third in 2012 and then falling out of the eight not once but twice? That was funny.

Y’know what else is funny? Port Adelaide.

Although Ken Hinkley’s innovative “ruck-free clearance” theory seems to have caught on, with West Coast adopting the patented gameplan by losing Nic Naitanui and dropping Scott Lycett before last week’s Brisbane game.

And on the upside, Ken will have a whole extra month to devise similarly revolutionary strategies ahead of next year.

Meanwhile, Adelaide’s season will take a poignant turn next week, with the AFL helpfully scheduling our fixture against Melbourne on the anniversary of Phil Walsh’s July 3 death. Literally, facing Demons.

Who knows what impact the occasion will have, but I suspect it’s a good thing that it will be an away game, removed from the cauldron of emotion that Adelaide Oval would have become.

Goalkicking aside, this year has been a fine testament to a culture Walsh helped instil in this Adelaide side.

Last night, amid one of the uglier games of football, I watched a plastic bag swirl its way across the sodden oval deck and, Kevin Spacey-like, mused on the notion that there’s so much beauty in the world.

And then Mackay turned the ball over and I cursed the name Paddy Dangerfield one more time for good measure.

Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s weekly AFL column. It will return to its usual Monday morning format after next week.

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