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Blight laments cursed Craig, but does fortune favour the Crows at last?


Call it the footy gods, call it a disturbance in the force. But AFL legend Malcolm Blight says a decade ago, fortune frowned on Adelaide under coach Neil Craig.

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Current coach Don Pyke has the Crows in their first grand final since Blight masterminded the 1997-98 premierships.

Asked why it had taken so long for Adelaide to come this close to their third flag, Blight says Craig’s Crows were stiff.

Under Craig, Adelaide made the finals every year from 2005-09.

But their best finishes were narrow preliminary final losses in ’05 and ’06 against West Coast.

“We always say you make your own luck and that’s true – I reckon in 95 per cent you do – but there are some strange things that happen in our game,” Blight said.

“And it’s not always the bounce of the ball.

“An umpiring decision – was it high, was it low, was it in the back?

“All those things are nearly controllable, but there is an ounce of (luck) in it.

“Neil was a bit stiff with that. Some days are diamonds.”

Blight likes the look of this season’s Crows, saying there are no glaring weaknesses.

Don Pyke directs the team in Friday night’s preliminary final win. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

Adelaide are renowned for forward firepower, but Blight also rates their defence and is impressed with how the Crouch brothers have added depth and class to the midfield.

He is also impressed with the quality present in the Richmond midfield ahead of Saturday’s grand final, but suspects Adelaide will have the edge.

The teams have not played since round six, when Adelaide were on their early-season tear and mauled Richmond at home by 76 points.

Blight has no doubt that Tigers coach Damien Hardwick learned plenty from that big loss.

“There would have been some notes he made from that,” he said.

“When you’ve played someone and they’ve gotten you, for some reason or another, it might have been something that happened, that they’ve learned from the game.

“The players change a little bit, but without looking at the teams I will bet there are 16-17 (the same) – the team is the team.”

It is two decades – more than two generations in the AFL life cycle – since Blight coached the Crows to their only two premierships in 1997-98 – and he says it’s high time someone joined him.

Blight compares it to playing in North Melbourne’s first premiership teams – 1975 and ’77 – and then two decades later watching Denis Pagan and Wayne Carey leading the Kangaroos to another double dose of glory.

“Football history to me is important… it’s terrific when you see them around the traps, you build bridges and every club should require that,” he said.

And Blight would love to build a premiership bridge with Pyke, noting that when he first came to Melbourne, it quickly became clear how Carlton’s generations of premiership players kept tight.

“They had this fantastic ‘bridge’ network, where you’d just run across them and they’d all been involved in successful times,” he said.

“The more the merrier, I think.

“It would be great to build that bridge with this group of players, the staff and all that.”

Blight, who will be at the MCG on Saturday, anticipates a riveting game, and predicts a third Adelaide premiership – just.

“I don’t know, I just have this feeling that the Crows might bat down a bit further,” he said.

“Richmond are certainly up and about and they have those great midfielders.

“The stars have to star, the rest have to pick up the slack.

“It’s a pretty exciting game and so it should be.”


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