If God existed and was into football, He’d have been a Crows supporter this past weekend. Well, truth be told (which it must be, according to the Commandments) He’d probably have been following the World Cup instead, but bear with me here.
Not only was this possibly the best round of AFL this year, with four games decided by eight points or less, but it seemed a heaven-sent opportunity to propel Adelaide into the eight, with Collingwood (6th), Gold Coast (8th) and Essendon (9th) all falling heartbreakingly, deliciously short.
Add to that our incredible ability to only win every second week (a record stretching back two months now), which resulted in a surprisingly comfortable home victory over the similarly psychotic Kangaroos (7th). And not to mention, of course, that the Power lost. All of which can only point to some kind of divine intervention.
Round 13 was, indeed, a milestone occasion in Season 2014, marking the first time the Crows have won and Port has lost on the same weekend. Since they don’t seem likely to make a habit of it, one must celebrate these things when fate allows it.
We even managed to win with some panache; we really must remember to leave Kerridge in the goalsquare whenever we play the Roos from now on. And having hosted Chad Wingard’s Mark of the Year the previous week, Adelaide Oval presided over a genuine Goal of the Year contender.
Not to be outdone by the Power’s justifiably-hyped small forward, a lively-looking Eddie Betts dobbed a 50m checkside from the boundary through the big sticks. True, Wingard’s feat had the advantage of actually being carried out on the field of play, but if the umpires aren’t going to quibble about Eddie’s goal, then I’m sure as hell not!
And the Power will be hardly despondent by their effort at the SCG, which only reconfirms their pedigree.
Sure, the Swans kindly left out He Who Shall Not Be Named, in a magnanimous gesture to ensure Crows supporters would not be conflicted. But Port were without Polec, and Hartlett for much of the game. And it was at the unfamiliar confines of the SCG. And they only just lost. They will, of course, have to learn the lessons of defeat: the primary one being that if you’re willing to spend $9 million, you’ll probably pick up a pretty handy player.
Nonetheless, if they can hang on to a top two berth and secure two home finals at the infuriatingly-dubbed “Portress” (thanks for nothing, Gerard Healy!), their suddenly ubiquitous supporters will be odds-on to be smiling their drooling, toothless grins all through the off-season.
It was, no doubt, a bitter pill for Port Adelaide that their first season in the competition was overshadowed by the Crows’ first flag. I now have some empathy with their frustration, having debuted this blatantly-parochial rant in a year that the hated Power appear destined for a Grand Final.
But no matter; we’ll forge on. Particularly as, for whatever it matters, Adelaide FC still holds that tantalising possibility of scraping into the finals, where a first round flogging doubtless awaits.
In the meantime, it ensures the teams around us (specifically the teams peripherally above us) have become mortal enemies. So, much as I’d have sympathy for Essendon players and supporters after their week from hell, to me the ASADA “show cause” notices effectively translated into a simple proposition: The team immediately above us on the ladder ain’t playing finals. Talk about divine intervention …
Since we’re onto Biblical matters, there’s an old gag about a guy who’s caught in the middle of an Ark-worthy flood. Clinging on for dear life, he prays to God to save him. A man in a row-boat floats past and offers to pick him up. “No thanks, I have faith that God will save me,” he replies. The water rises, and at length a motorboat putts in his direction, its driver offering succour. “No thanks,” he replies again, “I have faith that God will save me.” Finally, with the waves engulfing him, a helicopter appears overhead and lowers a rope. But his reply is the same.
When he finally drowns and finds himself at the Pearly Gates, he angrily confronts his maker: “I had faith that You’d save me, but You let me drown!”
God replies: “Buddy, I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?!”
At the end of this season, plenty of supporters will feel the proverbial Footy Gods abandoned them in 2014. If their team is Richmond or Essendon, I can kinda see their point. But I think of that story about the guy drowning through his own stupidity, and I imagine God patiently telling the Crows: “Mate, I sent you a favourable draw, a new Oval, Patrick Dangerfield, you got to play Melbourne at home, I buggered Jobe Watson’s quad and then smote Essendon’s whole list for good measure, and you still weren’t good enough to make the eight.”
The guy in that parable didn’t realise that praying wasn’t enough; he had to save himself. The Crows have had chance after chance to seize a finals berth, and so far they’ve just been consistently unable to take them. Well in the match against Geelong, Port and Sydney, only to drop our collective bundle, blowing gimme-games against Melbourne and Carlton and wilting against Freo.
But we’ll get our best, and possibly last opportunity this week against the demoralised Bombers. With Gold Coast coming up against Geelong, a win could set up our season; but a loss will rightly bury us.
Still, if our rollercoaster win-loss form continues, and we do follow that dominant home win against North with a paltry away loss, at least it means we’ll win the Showdown the following week. Right…?
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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