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Touch Of The Fumbles: Why the Crows could use a loss

Touch of the Fumbles

Port's season is over, but with the Showdown looming, Tom Richardson is tempering his ebullience. A bit. Although, he argues, a loss for the Crows in the coming fortnight could be a blessing in disguise.

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A few weeks ago the tattoo shop at the end of our street closed down, the latest small business to fall victim to a stagnant economy.

Besides determining I’d need to go further afield if I ever got round to having the dodgy barbed wire number I got done in the ’90s covered over, this was of little consequence to me and my brood.

In the intervening weeks, however, there has been no small degree of excitement building over what would take its place.

It is, after all, a reasonably sized shopfront on a busy metropolitan artery, in an area crying out for a funky little café or small bar masquerading as an eatery, as they are wont to do to survive the suburban regulatory red tape.

So expectations were high when, at length, the For Lease sign came down and new scaffolding went up. The joint was painted, the adjoining carpark paved.

Finally, on the weekend, we drove past to see that the incoming business had taken shape, and its shape was not that of a hip new eatery after all.

Instead, the shopfront was adorned with fresh new gravestones.

Now this whole episode could well be seen as an analogy about South Australia itself, with its great expectations and funereal eventualities.

But I prefer to see it as a metaphor for Port Adelaide’s season.

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Charlie Dixon has been a handy pick-up this season, but was kept quiet on Saturday. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

A season that finally, dismally ended on Saturday, and not with a bang but a whimper.

It began full of promise, with the faithful not merely daring to dream but doing so with an ill-advised brashness.

One mate even wagered me a dinner on Port finishing two games clear of the Crows (and he was convinced they would finish significantly further ahead than that).

But in the end, the dreams of grandeur were replaced with the despondent reality that their season was moribund, derailed by suspensions, injuries and a strange propensity to only turn up to play every other week.

So it’s been an enjoyable few days for Crows’ supporters.

Lachie Neale of the Fremantle Dockers during the Round 21 AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Adelaide Crows at the Domain Stadium in Perth, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Rory Sloane closes in on Lachie Neale. Photo: Tony McDonough / AAP

Brad Crouch re-signed on Friday.

Sure, it was not unexpected; it always seemed unlikely he would leave Adelaide after he got that job as the Tiser’s medical writer.

But Crows supporters tend to get a tad paranoid about player retention, after the likes of Dangerfield. And Tippett. And Gunston. And Davis. And Bock. And Maric.

So while Crouch’s signature may not have been unexpected, it was significant.

When Thommo retires, possibly as early as next month, this midfield would look pretty threadbare without Crouch crashing through it.

And sometimes, even though it sounds like PR spin, you still like to be told that a player is sticking around because he sees a chance for success in the coming years.

It’s been a while, after all.

Yesterday’s win against Freo was pretty regulation stuff; a needed win, but not a memorable one. A game noteworthy only for a handful of things, among them Jake Lever’s ludicrous second-term goal – his first in his AFL career – Tex’s apparent aversion to scoring, and the fact we evidently won two games in Perth in a year for the first time ever.

There was also the team’s Chipmunks On Speed rendition of the club song as they raced off to catch a flight.

And meanwhile, Melbourne further endeared themselves by jetting into Adelaide and putting the Power out of their, and everyone else’s, misery.

For despondent Port supporters, there is one consolation in the fact they no longer have that elusive mathematical chance of making the finals: we can finally abandon this weekly intrigue about the various permutations under which they could make an unlikely charge to September.

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Jack Watts cops a football to the scone. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

That will be, I imagine, some relief to supporters who had found themselves in the unhappy position of being invested in the results of North Melbourne games – a predicament even North Melbourne supporters wouldn’t wish on anybody.

However, before we get too carried away with our free meals and schadenfreude, let’s not forget that the Crows play Port this week.

And let’s not forget, too, that recent history suggests they never play so well as when there is nothing tangible to play for.

And with Adelaide coming back from Perth on a six-day break, the prospect of a boilover is never far from my thoughts.

Nonetheless.

If there’s one thing more taxing than working out the permutations of an unlikely finals berth, it’s navigating the likely match-ups for a likely top-four finish.

Unless we drop both our remaining games, a glance at the ladder suggests Adelaide would be hard-pressed to lose its top-four berth.

But as it currently stands, that would entail a trip to Sydney to play the Swans, currently the most ominously in-form team in the competition.

So here’s one from left-field.

Losing our final-round game to West Coast might not be the worst thing that ever happened to us.

If the Hawks manage to hang on to top spot, it would mean the Crows finish fourth, and take on the slightly brittle Hawthorn in Melbourne instead of the rampaging Swans in Sydney.

I know which option I’d prefer.

The last time Adelaide was in this kind of serious contention was a decade ago. And if the fate of those 2005-06 teams taught us anything, it’s that finals draws make a difference.

We never lost to Sydney throughout that period, but never once got the better of West Coast.

And yet, come the pointy end of the season, we always wound up on the side of the draw that would see us face the Eagles in a preliminary final.

Sure, it’s folly to try and engineer a soft path through the major round. But it’s undeniable that there are some teams we’d much rather avoid, particularly away from home.

And their names are Sydney and Geelong.

And somehow doing so could be the difference between heading off to get a “Pyke Cart” commemorative tattoo or writing yet another obituary for a wasted season.

I’ve no idea where to get the tattoo. But on the bright side, at least I won’t have to go far for the headstone.

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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