I’m glad this happened.
I’m actually perversely pleased about it.
Normal service has been resumed.
We suck again. Thank God for that – I was starting to get carried away for a minute there.
All this triumphal zeal and pie-eyed optimism is all very well for a few weeks, but here at Fumbleland we’re really more your glass-half-empty sort of supporter.
More Eeyore than Tigger.
We do a better line in despondency than hyperbole.
Indeed, I sometimes wonder what it’s like for supporters of teams like, say, Hawthorn, or Essendon in 2000, or Geelong any time from 2007 till about three weeks ago – teams that the rest of us would just expect to win, and would pencil in our respective match-ups against them as a routine shellacking.
I’ve always envied those supporters, but do they really front up each week and just smugly shrug, “Yep, we’ll win this one, no probs”?
Or does every win simply compound the fear that their season will fall cruelly short (which, after all, it did for each of them at some point)?
Are they really just like the rest of us who, no matter how well our team’s playing, are haunted by the prospect that on any given weekend the rose-coloured veil will fall and we’ll be revealed as the slow, listless, one-dimensional, ball-butchering imposters that we really are?
Much as the Crows were yesterday.
So, yeah, in many ways it’s kind of a relief. It makes my private pessimism feel quite rational and justified.
And, as Paul Keating would say if he’d been a footy coach instead of a politician (and he’d probably have made a pretty good one, apart from the whole Not-Liking-Sport thing): “This is the loss we had to have.”
Despite almost two decades in which to learn not to get ahead of ourselves, Adelaide fans are really pretty good at Getting Ahead Of Ourselves.
Three wins in a row against middling opposition and we’re already booking Grand Final flights to Melbourne and drawing up preliminary designs for our ‘Phil “Groundball” Walsh 2015’ commemorative tattoo.
But in reality, deep down Crows supporters felt like Billy Joel when he was married to Christie Brinkley – it was fun while it lasted, but we all knew it was too good to be true and just a matter of time before we were dumped on our arses.
Yesterday was a dirty, dirty afternoon, and not in a You-Can-Leave-Your-Hat-On, 9½ Weeks kind of way.
We were never in the contest.
We were slow, unresponsive and evidently lacking either a Plan B or the wherewithal to execute one.
Groundball Walsh’s determination to leave Hartigan minding Jake Stringer – who kicked six on him in three quarters before being subbed off with no apparent ailment (leather-poisoning, perhaps?) – was reminiscent of the time One-Punch Clarkson left Zac Dawson standing Anthony Rocca, despite the fledgling defender conceding eight psyche-rattling goals.
To make matters worse, even if you know your Jared Polec from your Graham Polak, your Brendon Lade from your Brayden Lyle and your Alipate Carlile from your Ali Carle, I’d challenge you to tell me anything Jake Stringer has ever done before of note (hint: nothing).
The Crows were choked in the corridor and smashed on the outside. At one point, Matty Wright took a saving mark in defence, then sent the ball straight back to a losing contest down the middle. As Port Adelaide’s unofficial anthem helpfully tells us, “We all have wings, but some of us don’t know why …”
The game was scheduled in the prestigious 4pm Sunday timeslot, a fixture evidently not designed with parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers in mind. Hasn’t AFL scheduling mastermind Simon Lethlean ever heard of the dinner/bath/bed Witching Hour?
Watching your interminably-frustrating team is hard enough without a three-year-old insistently tugging at your ankle demanding you “be a Gruffalo”.
On this occasion, though, the Crows were so bad it actually made the alternative of coaxing/wrestling an irate toddler out of a lukewarm bath and reading Mem Fox aloud for the millionth time comparatively appealing.
The iPhone video of One-Punch Clarkson also proves Port supporters are inherently nitwits, but we knew that already … Still, if the dunderhead heckling the Hawks coach wasn’t conclusive, the fact his mate chose to shoot the entire incident in ‘portrait’ rather than ‘widescreen’ mode removed all doubt.
Groundball Walsh’s initial response after the game when asked if it was a reality check was: “Yeah, nah, yeah … so …”
Which pretty well summed it up.
For the Bulldogs, though, it seems Luke “Tasty” Beveridge was a pretty inspired coaching appointment, rather than merely a guy whose name had great pun-potential. While he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he’s already proved just the tonic for Footscray supporters, many of whom had already called Last Drinks on Season 2015 (see what I mean?)
So comprehensive was the Doggies’ win, it was only a matter of seconds before the commentators started flinging the sort of hyperbole previously only reserved for the esteemed likes of … well, us. Sandy Roberts even suggested that this routine towelling had “exacted revenge” for the 1997 preliminary final! Um … yeah, along with the other 12 times they’ve beaten us since then, including coming back from 40 points down at three-quarter-time in 1999 to clobber us by two.
It was no real surprise they got a jump on us, since they did exactly the same thing last year and generally match up well on us of late, them being fairly quick and us being fairly not quick. Even after six goals to one in the first, I was calmly relaxed about things. This was Comeback Round, after all.
It wasn’t until halfway through the third, when the margin spiralled to 10 goals, that I began to ponder the possibility that our much-anticipated revival might not eventuate.
We did manage to cut the three-quarter time margin of 75 to 57 by the end, but that was still pretty piss weak in the scheme of the weekend’s other Failed Comebacks.
Port aside, it was quite fun on Saturday night watching both last year’s Grand Finalists get simultaneously annihilated.
But unbeknownst to us, Hawthorn and Sydney evidently had a bet on to see who could let the margin blow out the furthest before reeling it in.
They both failed, of course, but football was undoubtedly the winner.
Also, Freo and Port.
Yes, if the Crows reverting to frustrating type wasn’t horrible enough, the Power have decided that playing badly wasn’t really for them, and have emerged as the Hawk-slaying juggernaut we all expected them to be. If their victory against the reigning premier proves they’re a genuine contender, Hawthorn’s last quarter at least suggests the traditionally-fast-finishing Power can be scored against, and quickly.
(The iPhone video of One-Punch Clarkson also proves Port supporters are inherently nitwits, but we knew that already … Still, if the dunderhead heckling the Hawks coach wasn’t conclusive, the fact his mate chose to shoot the entire incident in ‘portrait’ rather than ‘widescreen’ mode removed all doubt.)
If there were further positives to be gleaned from the weekend (and you’d have to look pretty hard), the evergreen Scott Thompson again showed why the likes of Lyons, Grigg and Matt Crouch all appear doomed to fight it out in the illustrious “Green Vest Raffle” for the last spot in the starting 22 … at least till Matt’s brother Brad returns from injury!
We have a surfeit of hard-nosed inside mids, but Thommo continues to show the rest of this team a toughness and determination no doubt forged through years of that frustration to which we’re all long accustomed.
And at least the Moggs Creek Seniors were beaten at home by the Kangaroos.
And, when you think about it, we’re still a mathematical chance for the finals …
But if we’re really stretching for consolation, we’ve regained a genuinely important sense of perspective about where we’re going and where we are now. We can finally shuck the sort of giddying, uniquely-Adelaide hype that only a scrappy home win over Melbourne can generate.
Maybe this really was the Loss We Had To Have.
Next week, however …
Next week the Grey Army faces off against the Toothless Hordes as we host the suddenly-ominous Power – in the Family-Friendly Sunday 4pm fixture, no less.
Quarantine the bath plugs and stash away the Mem Fox: it’s Showdown time.
And that is the loss we really, desperately don’t want to have.
Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s weekly AFL column, published each Monday during the AFL season. For new readers – yes, it’s shamelessly biased. Even up the score in the comments section below.
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