What a brilliant game!*
Let’s re-live the dizzying denouement: despite a first-half showcase of clean-skilled, free-flowing football during which Adelaide’s blistering pace and impeccable decision-making shines through, the game nonetheless comes down to the wire in the final few minutes, with the Crows in arrears to the tune of five points (due to various other factors unrelated to our skill, speed or smarts).
With little more than two minutes on the clock, club champion Rory Sloane takes possession in a pack just metres from our goal, and fires off a regulation handpass to put the ball into space, only for the umpire (well-known as a paid-up Carlton season-ticket holder**) to award a just-for-the-hell-of-it free kick against.
The Blues rebound, gifting a mark to the heretofore useless Lachie Henderson on their 50-metre line.
With a minute left to play, any score would make a Crows win impossible. But today the Footy Gods*** are smiling on us. Henderson cramps up, chooses to take the shot himself regardless, and obligingly kicks it out on the full.
The irrepressible warrior Talia bombs it forward again, but it finishes up spilling out of bounds on the wing. Thirty-one seconds left, and another clearance to the wounded Dangerfield sees it back in our forward 50, only for Sloane to again be pinged by the Blue-eyed umpire, when his kicking boot sadly fails to connect with its intended target.
Andrejs Everitt, who tends to put in one good game each season and it’s invariably against Adelaide, clears the ball, but it’s palmed down by the gallant former Blue Sauce Jacobs, again finding Talia, who hoists it back into the 50. And, just as the siren rings out across the MCG, the pill lands in the safe hands of small forward Charlie Cameron…who hangs on for dear life as Dennis Armfield helplessly tries to spoil. He’s done it! The mark sticks!
Cool as a cucumber, the second-gamer goes back and, with the composure of a 300-match veteran, calmly slots the sealer, putting the Crows a point up at the death, just as Jared Petrenko did in the corresponding round last year against the Kangaroos. Wild celebrations ensue: Adelaide is in the eight, and the impossibly-catchy club anthem can be heard echoing back down the dark highways all the way from Melbourne.
Such is the season-defining euphoria of the victory against a genuine AFL powerhouse in Carlton’s ominous 2014 outfit that it puts it firmly in the annals of great Adelaide wins-against-the-odds. Right up there with the ’09 semi-final against Collingwood, for instance, wherein a one-time Crows forward whose name we don’t mention anymore put us a solitary point up, only for Truck Rutten to give away a silly free kick to Magpie Jack Anthony (who?). But fortuitously, Spud Anthony failed to make the distance, leaving the Pies dejected and humiliated and the football world marveling at how well Neil Craig’s simple game plan stood up in finals football.
Or the 2012 preliminary final against Hawthorn, when super-sub Stiffy Johncock streamed over the 50-metre line and let fly to put the visitors ahead; fortunately, no-one on the Hawks team (and particularly not Cyril Rioli) had any answer for the Crows’ momentum, and the siren quickly sounded thereafter, propelling Adelaide into a Grand Final.
If yesterday’s famous away win against Carlton wasn’t sweet enough, the weekend was made complete by Port Adelaide’s inept display in their comprehensive loss at home to the depleted Hawthorn. The Power’s distinct lack of pace, fitness and hardness at the contest and their dour, defensive mindset suggest the hype surrounding Alberton was spectacularly ill-conceived. Which is a relief.
So all we need to do now is front up to face the Gold Coast Suns at home. With or without “Elbows” Ablett, it’s clear the zippy, skillful Crows will run rings around them and nothing can possibly go wrong. Fact.
*Note: Elements of this analysis may not really have happened quite as I remember them. Sometimes the whole truth is too painful to recall.
**This is not actually well known, and may in fact be complete bollocks.
***There are no Footy Gods.
Tom Richardson is InDaily’s political commentator and Channel Nine’s state political reporter.
On Mondays during the AFL season he can be found in InDaily’s sport section, writing this lament – or chronicle of triumph. Time will tell.
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