There are few AFL clubs – indeed, perhaps only one – that could somehow manage to turn a week in which they’re not actually playing a game into a Week From Hell.
So take a bow, Adelaide Football Club.
From a Grand Final berth that is now a distant memory (which is, to be fair, one of the small crumbs of consolation in all this) the Crows have spiralled into such a mire that the universal observation – and an eerily cogent one – is that something at the club is unaccountably broken.
The supporters are baying for blood, and if not blood then at least some semblance of accountability. Mind you, it could be argued that there was some semblance of accountability at this year’s board elections, and that AFC members arguing for greater transparency could always try voting for the arbitrary ‘sacrificial lamb’ candidate who promises greater fan engagement, instead of whichever former premiership player the club inevitably puts up to win in a canter.
C’est la vie. Just as they say you get the government you deserve, one can only conclude that you also get the football club you deserve.
#WeWantAnswersAFC Campaign, Thursday June 21st, spread the word. pic.twitter.com/tqaUKlZrdM
— WeWantAnswersAFC (@_WeWantAnswers_) June 17, 2018
But you get the supporters you deserve too, and this week the Crows got the mastermind behind one of the more amusing social media hashtags – #WeWantAnswersAFC – the central conceit of which is that supporters who pay membership fees are essentially shareholders who are entitled to a warts and all audit of the Crows’ 2018 annus horribilis. Or, as the mysterious supporter put it more succinctly: “Yes, we do deserve answers, END OF.”
Apart from the on-field wreck of a campaign that not so long ago saw us as consensus flag favourites, the nub of his gist appears to be a lack of genuine engagement, typified by the concern that is clearly at the forefront of every supporter’s mind: “Updates on the website photo gallery hasn’t [sic] been updated since last year.”
Which, given the way things have gone since last year, is probably for the best, really.
The point of the campaign was to rally the troops to bombard the club’s official Twitter handle and that of CEO Andrew Fagan with the burning questions of the day – Thursday June 21, to be precise.
But the ever-poker-faced Crows saw and raised the campaign, with an ingenious counterpunch to ensure the pointed inquiries were given the scrutiny they deserved:
All this, inevitably enough, quickly became a viral sensation, with supporters from across the national divide chiming in with the burning questions of the day to ridicule the campaign’s po-faced outrage.
Even US president Donald Trump got in on the act, although he forgot to include the #WeWantAnswersAFC hashtag:
Why don’t the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world’s worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
Although this lone genuine and plaintive plea from a frustrated Crows tragic to an unsuspecting Argentinian lady was the highlight of the week for mine:
Still, it’s a serious business getting answers from the Adelaide Footy Club.
Let’s hope the masterminds behind the Twitter uprising have more luck than the hapless reporter in this exclusive ‘Fumbles Friday’ vision, when he deigned to ask a few curly questions of the Crows’ hard-as-nails former football manager John Reid (and please note, this comes with a strong, STRONG language warning):
Yep, it’s truly amazing. (The best bit for mine is the way he slots effortlessly back into the interview like nothing has happened!) A one-off incident, most likely almost 20 years ago, you say?
Well, listen on…
Ok, a two-off incident then.
Still, most old-time sports journos I’ve spoken to reckon JR was always happy to front up and answer questions, no matter how the team was travelling. Which is probably worth the occasional ear-bashing. Right…?
Aptly enough, by my best guess that ancient video footage was shot sometime after our decimation by a rampant Sydney Swans in Round 20, 1999 – in which Tony Lockett kicked eight goals, including the 1300th of his career to break the all-time record.
And it’s arguable that, the obvious tragic turn aside, the past week has been about our worst since that pre-millennial low-ebb.
Mainly because it’s one of the few times that such an on-field nadir has coincided with an equivalent Power zenith (well, apart from 2004 when we sacked a coach and fell to a record defeat against the Lions while they won a flag).
The Collective Mind trip must now be regarded as the single worst summer retreat since a bunch of teenagers visited Camp Crystal Lake in the early ‘80s
For in that same week in ’99, Port had just beaten the Demons to tally up their 11th win of the season, meaning that just one win from their remaining three would propel them into their first ever finals campaign. That one win, of course, came at our expense the very next week – while we wouldn’t bank another victory until Round Six the following year.
So how does all this compare to this week’s debacle?
Well, let us count the ways….
Since our last missive from Fumbleland, we’ve had:
- Mitch McGovern rumoured to be on the way out the door
The suggestion, thrown out by a Melbourne-based reporter, appears to have settled into received wisdom now, probably because the man himself has hardly jumped into the public arena to shoot it down.
Moreover, his manager’s effort to dispel the suggestion was one of those ‘do you want the good news or the bad news’ moments, further jangling the frayed nerves of the faithful by cryptically noting: “We’ve all heard in the past two weeks that players are looking to get out of Adelaide, but to put Mitch McGovern in that group is ridiculous.”
Yeah, thanks mate.
- The umpteenth reminder of what must now be regarded as the single worst summer retreat since a bunch of teenagers visited Camp Crystal Lake in the early ‘80s.
I note, incidentally, that most media outlets have opted to add a superfluous ‘s’ onto the end of ‘Collective Mind’, which I assume is to make it sound more South Strayan, as we’ve always tended to do with Myers, Le Cornus and Holdens.
- An eye-wateringly, soul-crushingly horrible loss to Hawthorn, of which the best that could be said is that we kicked more goals than were scored in the concurrent World Cup match between France and the Socceroos. But only just.
Fortunately, I had a mate’s 40th last Saturday (a Port supporter, moreover) so I was forced to miss the carnage altogether. It was, I think, the first game I have been forced to miss in its entirety since Neil Craig’s last coaching gig, when we lost to St Kilda by 103 points in 2011. I sure can pick ‘em.
(Although, to be fair, once I had a longstanding date night that conflicted with one of our regular recent Geelong defeats, but I at least recorded that one to watch later, which involved quite a stressful evening trying to avoid score updates, including telling some fellow patrons at the next table to shut up whenever they started discussing it. My wife, I think, decided it was less painful to just avoid in-season date nights from that point on.)
- Our status as national laughing stock confirmed by the most cringeworthy piece of fan engagement since those nuffies at the airport started singing the club song to the Swans players as they arrived for the 2012 qualifying final – which evidently inspired Sydney to wipe the floor with us on our home deck en route to that year’s flag.
- And, oh yes, another injury blow, with Eddie Betts – who had been, finally, in season-best form in the preceding weeks – now sidelined for a month after becoming acutely aware of his hamstring for the second time this year.
So dire has our hamstring epidemic become we could re-badge the club’s medical room ‘Collective Hinds’.
Still, at least we own a baseball team…
And at least, too, our novel injury terminology seems to be catching (unless Port’s social media dude is just trolling us now…)
KH: Matthew Broadbent is getting really close. In terms of tonight everyone pulled up well, except Darcy Byrne-Jones who has hamstring awareness #PAFCLive
— Port Adelaide FC (@PAFC) June 14, 2018
And why wouldn’t they be, given over the course of this Week From Hell, the Power have:
- Consolidated their spot in the top eight with a smashing win over the hapless Bulldogs
- Buoyed their finals charge by playing the misfiring Chad Wingard into form in the midfield
- And, oh yes, re-signed the in-demand Ollie Wines for another four years, which also allowed him to publicly wax lyrical about what a great, happy, cohesive club Port really are, how the coach is like a father-figure to him, how they’re headed in the right direction and how their fans most assuredly Don’t Want Answers.
I must admit, I feel slightly ripped off about this Wines thing.
After all, in February 2016, The Advertiser reported – and I quote – “A fitter and more powerful Ollie Wines has set his sights on becoming Port Adelaide’s answer to midfield superstar Patrick Dangerfield.”
I obviously took this as meaning he was planning to walk out on his club just as their premiership window was opening to go surfing in Victoria.
But it turned out he just meant he wanted to play well. Bugger.
Still, maybe he’s merely setting them up for a bigger letdown in 2022. As it says somewhere in the Bible, ‘woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep’, which I’m pretty sure was a portentous warning to future Crows supporters about ten minutes into the first quarter of last year’s Grand Final.
But still, I remember being pretty up and about when Tippett put pen to paper for the Crows in 2009, and when Paddy re-signed in 2012 – and, indeed, when McGoin’ opted to stick around (for a few weeks at least) last year.
Good times. Ah, how we all laughed.
Still, we must – as ever – look for positives.
On the plus side, as least we’ve only got three of the top four sides after the bye. Although on the strength of last night’s showing, West Coast look like they’re gearing up to ruin our evident draft strategy next week.
And the nuffy #WeWantAnswersAFC campaign is probably our equivalent of the last ‘frustrated fan’ intervention:
Which, while it was similarly ridiculed, at least ended well for the club involved.
Although not for us.
Indeed, as our season sinks into the mire, one can’t help thinking of the Grand Final as a ‘sliding doors’ moment to rival the archetypal ’12-point turnaround’ in any given footy game. You have a chance to score and fluff the kick, only for your opponent to rush it down the other end of the ground for a goal.
Only in our case, we had a chance to win a flag, screwed it up and have now opened the door for Port to even up the premiership ledger in the very next season.
Of course, as far as first world problems go, this is all very middle class, but aptly so. For the Crows are indeed the ultimate middle-class football team, and the middle-class prerogative is to invent new problems in order to have something to complain about.
Which is why there is something of the zeitgeist about #WeWantAnswersAFC.
Because we don’t really want answers. We just want something to complain about.
We want to be able to shout ‘we want the truth’.
But the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
No, I’m not sure we can.
Touch Of The Fumbles will return to its usual Monday slot after the bye rounds.
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