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Touch Of The Fumbles: They all fall down...

Touch of the Fumbles

This was quite possibly the worst week ever.

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Yes, I know Adelaide won, and won well. I know said win put us into the top four for the first time this season.

I know the Crows escaped unscathed by injury, and now have practically a full squad to pick from for a run home that will see them travel only twice in seven games, and play just two fellow finals contenders.

So why the bad week?

Things took a turn for the worse when my four-year-old marched into the room on Monday last and earnestly announced: “I go for Port Power ‘cos I like Port Power now.”

Power players leave Adelaide Oval dejected after their team lost to the Hawks during the Round sixteen AFL match between Port Adelaide Power and the Hawthorn Hawks at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Thursday, July 7, 2016. (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

PORT ADELAIDE… why?! Photo: Ben Macmahon, AAP.

It was, as they say in current affairs promos, every parent’s worst nightmare! (Well, every parent who goes earnestly for the Crows, anyway.)

Where did I go wrong, etc?

It got worse – he progressed to insisting he was going to “play for Port Power when he grew up”. Which, given his general inability to connect boot to ball, is probably a realistic ambition.

I went through the usual responses – denial, anger, bargaining, depression. Apparently “acceptance” comes next, although I didn’t make it that far.

But given his general enthusiasm for the code extends about as far as collecting AFL player cards in order to use them as pretend train tickets, it all seemed a bit odd, and I suspect this rampant rebellion was fostered less by any newfound admiration for the fabled Port Adelaide way than by the fact that he thinks the lightning bolt logo looks kinda cool.

But then, as Jack Nicholson put it in The Shining: “He is a very wilful boy…”

On further inquisition (some might call it interrogation) it seems that someone at his kindy might have got in his ear peddling the notion that the Adelaide Crows are “a stupid team” and, being of an impressionable age, he took this on board with gusto. Which means, sadly, that we may have to consider moving pre-schools, and possibly withdrawing him from the conventional education system altogether.

Fortunately, the Power fervour proved shortlived, and within five minutes he had decided he went for Hawthorn instead, and even then without much conviction.

“Is Hawthorn a Stupid Team?” he diligently asked.

To which, given they had just reclaimed top spot on the ladder and were in pole position to claim a fourth straight premiership, I couldn’t find a suitable response – settling eventually for the answer Reverend Lovejoy gave in The Simpsons when Ned Flanders asked if God was punishing him: “Short answer: ‘yes with an if’, long answer: ‘no with a but’.”

Of course, his decision was vindicated on Thursday night, when Hawthorn jetted in and pretty much finished off Port’s season with a 22-point defeat.

WRAPPED UP: Hamish Hartlett - under pressure from Luke Bruest - was one of several Power players to leave the field under an injury cloud, although he played out the game. Photo: Michael Errey, InDaily.

ON BALANCE, NOT SUCH A STUPID TEAM: Hawthorn won the mind-games – and the actual game – against Port. Photo: Michael Errey, InDaily.

It was particularly poignant given Alastair Clarkson had lobbed a verbal grenade in the lead-up, suggesting that the Power couldn’t play hard football consistently enough – a sledge with which Ken Hinkley concurred. Wisely, as it turned out, given his charges responded by playing hard football but not very consistently.

Last week I was magnanimous enough to suggest I wouldn’t mind Port winning the match, given Hawthorn are one of the few remaining teams above Adelaide on the ladder – and this is the thanks I get.

Last time I ask Port for a favour!

Although at least they’re starting to get some of their players back from injury so they can potentially knock over one of North, GWS or Sydney in the coming weeks. Indeed, when ruckman Matthew Lobbe’s knee injury layoff was announced back in May, the AFL website wrote that “the Power is hopeful Lobbe will return about round 18 to give himself enough time to regain match fitness ahead of the finals”.

I still chuckle at the naïve optimism of that line, given even at the time there was probably more chance of Donna Jack winning Mother Of The Year than Port playing in September.

Still, being fully match fit will be of some benefit to Lobbe during the finals if he needs to make a quick beer run or toilet break dash during an ad break. So swings and roundabouts.

And at least Sydney and Collingwood did the right thing by us by beating Geelong and GWS respectively, the former particularly enjoyable given Dangerfield played really well but his team still lost – an eventuality no-one ever really contemplated despite the fact it used to happen regularly in the good ol’ days.

Levi Casboult of the Blues and Daniel Talia of the Crows contest for the ball, during the AFL Round 16 between the Carlton Blues and Adelaide Crows, played at the MCG in Melbourne, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Danel Talia obliterated Blue Levi Casboult yesterday. Photo: Joe Castro, AAP.

And by Saturday night, with Richmond poised on the cusp of upsetting the Bulldogs, it looked as if the entire glut of premiership contenders – complacently safe in the eight – were playing some kind of collective game of “Ring-a-Rosie”.

Annoyingly, the Doggies stopped playing before it got to the bit where We All Fall Down, scraping themselves off the canvas, as decent teams are supposed to.

But what it means is that the Crows are now (sort-of) ensconced in the top four which, let’s face it, is really the only place from whence to make a concerted premiership tilt.

Indeed, it kinda makes you wonder why we even bother routinely worrying about whether we can snare the last spot in the eight most years, since literally no other team has made the flag from outside the four since, well…us. And that was a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – a galaxy with a different finals system that somehow rewarded us for getting spanked by Melbourne in the first week.

(Yes, Melbourne were playing finals – that’s how long ago it was!)

I suspect some hazy memory of ‘98 has helped foster this strange subconscious notion that just making the finals is somehow a launchpad to glory – that, as Sinatra sang, if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere. And maybe this is, finally, the year that a team snares it from the lower rungs of the eight, such is the evenness of the finals contenders.

Although we say that every single year, and it is invariably proved false.

We gave it our best to return to those lower reaches of the eight for a while there yesterday, struggling to break away from Carlton for much of the first half. Four first-half goals from Armfield (or as I preferred to call him, Dennis the Menace) kept the Blues in the contest, but they were ultimately flattering. Without his unusual influence this was pretty much a walkover.

Sam Jacobs of the Crows (right) celebrates after kicking a goal, during the AFL Round 16 between the Carlton Blues and Adelaide Crows, played at the MCG in Melbourne, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

GOOD BOY: Sam Jacobs gets a well-deserved pat on the head for his efforts. Photo: Joe Castro, AAP.

Of course, let’s not book our October appointments for a 2016 commemorative tattoo just yet (if nothing else, I still can’t decide between “I’m on the Pyke Cart” and “Is Don, Is Good”).

But it’s entirely possible that we will lose to Collingwood at home this week.

Indeed, in years gone by I’d suggest it’s more likely than not.

I cringe a bit when I read every week about how we’re on our best hot streak since 2009, and heading towards breaking our all-time record winning run from 2005.

Because both of those years ended really well, didn’t they?

Pride comes before an inevitable fall… if being a Crows supporter in the years since ’98 has taught us anything, it’s taught us that

It’s sort of half mentioned that the ’05 record winning streak ended in Round 22 – an ominous reminder that we subsequently lost our home Qualifying Final against St Kilda. That at least gave us the consolation of getting to annihilate Port in our only major round meeting to date, but on balance I’d probably have preferred to win the flag.

No such consolation in ’09 – just Rutten’s free, Jack Anthony’s goal and Eddie McGuire’s unbridled glee. A hideous night all round, the sort that would prompt one to ask, like Ned Flanders, if God was punishing us.

And remember: those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.

Taylor Walker of the Crows leads his side onto the ground, during the AFL Round 16 between the Carlton Blues and Adelaide Crows, played at the MCG in Melbourne, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Don’t get ahead of ourselves this time, ok? Photo: Joe Castro, AAP.

Or, in other words, pride comes before an inevitable fall.

If being a Crows supporter in the years since ’98 has taught us anything, it’s taught us that.

No wonder my kid was so suggestible to the “stupid team” proposition: he’s spent almost five years watching his Dad wallow in weekly frustration.

So we’re definitely not getting ahead of ourselves this time… right?

Short answer, ‘yes with an if’; long answer, ‘no with a but’.

Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s weekly AFL column, published each Monday during the AFL season. Yes, it’s shamelessly biased. Even up the score in the comments section below.

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