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Touch of the Fumbles

Touch Of The Fumbles: Pulling a Homer

Touch of the Fumbles

I think we can all accept that Adelaide should have lost on Saturday night.

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But it’s not just that we ought to have lost, it’s that the loss, by rights, would have been one of those generationally-scarring shitshow losses that still makes us sink feverishly into a foetal position when it’s mentioned in tones of hushed regret decades hence.

For were it not that Sam Weideman’s kick – the second-last kick of the night – sailed wide (and I’ve watched it a few times over, and I’m still not sure how that happened) this would have been an Adelaide defeat for the ages. An Andrew Leoncelli circa ’01 or Jeff Farmer ’03 kinda defeat.

A Tarrant, Buddy or Jack Anthony at the death.

So this wasn’t just a matter of snaring an unlikely win, or even salvaging (even temporarily) our sinking season.

We have walked away from a football train wreck for the ages.

We’re Bruce Fucking Willis in Unbreakable, in football form.

Still, you’ll be pleased to know that I and everyone I know managed to keep things very much in perspective regardless.

Of course, it’s unseemly to dwell on poor old Weideman, as the TV cameras were wont to do in the aftermath.

Mid-comeback, I was confident that this match would somehow end horribly, to keep us in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed.

And I was right, in a way. It did; but not for us.

Even then, though, it’s not the kind of clutch win you’re inclined to rewatch and revel in.

Weideman’s grisly finale was kinda like Fredo kicking the bucket in The Godfather Part 2: even though it was a brilliant ending, you’re still left feeling sorry for him.

But given the weird majesty of it all, it’s hardly seemly to dwell on negatives, though there were many. Like that annoying AFL tradition, the biennial ‘Rory Sloane injury against Melbourne in Darwin’. Or the fact that for the most part we collectively returned to ‘North Melbourne in Round Four’ levels of incompetence.

Because for all that, we still managed to pull a proverbial Homer.

So this is a moment to pump up the positives, like those people who buy lotto tickets when a tree falls on their house ten seconds after they leave.

For one, I’ve been waiting years for Adelaide to win a game with a kick on the final siren.

Sure, it didn’t happen quite as I imagined it would… but it happened nonetheless.

‘Fredo’ Weideman learns a tough lesson: Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Crows again. Ever. Photo: Dan Peled / AAP

And it was a genuine ‘Sliding Doors’ moment (by which I mean ‘Gywneth Paltrow Sliding Doors’, not ‘Damian Barrett Sliding Doors’ – a moment that could change the course of our future, rather than a specious syllogism).

A(nother) narrow loss would likely have sent our season spiralling, whereas we now have a chance – a chance, and nothing more – to relaunch.

It also marked the return of the displaced duo Jenkins and Gibbs, who didn’t play at any level the previous week but evidently impressed the coaching staff with their running around the oval, or somesuch.

Gibbs played a significant shutdown role on the dangerous Clayton OIiver, thus fulfilling Adelaide’s cunning plan to recruit at great cost a star player with a proven track record for playing a certain way and teaching him to play a completely different way.

And Jenkins, a regular podium finisher in our annual ‘Most Maligned Forward’ competition, was huge in the decisive final quarter, allowing us to take the honours by default.

It was also nice to end the week on a high, given it started with a fairly unfortunate Goal-Of-The-Round nomination list that was certain to trigger any long-suffering Crows devotee.

So, I’ll take it.

I’ll take it because we’ve had two weeks of playing pretty damn well on occasion, only to scrounge together a one-point loss one week and throw away a draw to lose by two goals the next.

But not this time.

Because this time something was on our side – fate, the Footy Gods or whatnot.

This felt like the football universe was throwing us a freaking bone at long last.

And it’s not all bad for the Demons either.

Take heed and take heart, Dees fans: Nigel Smart shanked a late shot at goal when Freo beat us by a point back in ’98, and we went on to win that year’s flag.

So… I guess that means your team will win the premiership this year?

Well, maybe not.

In fact, if I had just one slight, teeny-tiny gripe about the win, it was this: that Melbourne’s loss puts them within striking distance of Carlton.

For while the Blues plumb new and more amusing depths of ineptitude weekly, it’s easy to forget that they’re only two games off their nearest rivals, with a higher percentage than Gold Coast.

Which means that Mitch McGovern’s much-lamented departure may yet end up being the ironic saviour of our season. For the out-of-sorts Carlton forward’s failure to touch the ball as it sailed over his head for a goal in the dying seconds of the Blues’ Round Four choke to the Suns could end up being the moment we snared this year’s Number One draft pick.

Unlike their fans though, I’m warily confident Carlton can salvage a few wins – especially now that they finally seem to have tired of bolstering our draft hand and have given coach Brendon Bolton the proverbial arse.

Which is, frankly, an outrage. Brendon Bolton is doing a terrific job and should remain at Carlton until season’s end. Or at least until after the Blues next play the Suns.

In our regular Fumbleland ‘glass-half-empty’ fashion, I gave them a fair chance of beating Essendon yesterday – a scenario that could have propelled them into a mini run-on with a decent draw ahead – so the match was very much our Whatever The Opposite Of a Grand Final Is.

Which we happily won with relative ease, what with the Blues still hobbled by injuries, inexperience and own-goals such as veteran Dale Thomas’s sanction for drinking off the job.

Daisy got sent off to play in the VFL – which for Carlton actually counts as a promotion.

Brendon Bolton may have lost his job, but he’s firmly in the running to snare a consolation ‘Gold Jacket’ at Adelaide Football Club’s best and fairest this year. Photo: Julian Smith / AAP

But in his absence the Blues endured two goalless terms and finished with just four majors against a fairly average Essendon, leaving Bolton to lament Daisy’s “very, very poor error of judgment”.

Mind you, if it got him out of playing in that festering turd of a game, it actually suggests impeccable judgement if you ask me.

Brendon Bolton is doing a terrific job and should remain at Carlton until season’s end

As for the rest of his teammates, Bolton insisted their 39th loss from their past 43 starts wasn’t about them being hopelessly demoralised and outclassed: they’re just “building resilience”.

Unfortunately, they’ve been building resilience for about 17 years now. Here is a visual representation of all the resilience they’ve built in that time:

Which does all tend to suggest that Wayne Brittain is really the Kim Beazley of the Carlton Football Club: the dumped mentor who you realise, years after the fact, was probably far more competent than you gave him credit for.

Of course this analogy also implies that Pagan was Carlton’s Rudd (the obvious big signing which ultimately proved disastrous), Ratten their Gillard (had some early success but removed for a quick fix), Malthouse was Rudd’s second coming (high-profile, shortlived and marked by heavy defeat on the national stage) and poor ol’ Bolton is the Blues’ Bill Shorten (inexplicably lasted longer than anyone expected but probably made things worse than they were in the first place).

And of course, neither Carlton nor the ALP have had any significant success since the mid-‘90s, save for a brief late-noughties renaissance.

But let’s not labour this analogy. Or ‘Labor’ this analogy, as it were (sorry).

The main thing is: Carlton are very bad, and that is very good.

For, of their main rivals for the spoon, the Kangaroos appear to have moved out of contention now that they’ve finally appointed a coach who’s on board with our whole draft-pick-trade thing. And while Melbourne and the Swans seem psychologically disposed to continue snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, you’d still expect them to accidentally pinch the odd win at some point on the run home.

Which just leaves Gold Coast, and their tenuous two-game buffer.

Guess who my new second-favourite team is?

Hopefully it works out better than my previous ‘temporarily-expedient’ second-favourite team. I’ve been a St Kilda supporter for two weeks now and frankly, I don’t know how anyone could do it fulltime.

Sure, they at least beat the Blues before coughing up the game completely against the Power (which, by all reports, wasn’t the only thing a few of them coughed up this week). But they did both things so tediously. 

Why does it always rain on Jarryn Geary? Photo: David Mariuz / AAP

It’s been a bad week for the Saints, besides using the mid-season draft to address an area of glaring deficiency on their list – players with the first name ‘Jack’.

Having snared 18-year-old West Australian Jack Mayo (obviously recruited for his ability to spread) the Saints are well on their way – with Jacks Billings, Bytel, Lonie, Newnes, Sinclair, Steele and Steven – to having a 50 per cent list quota of Jacks by 2022 (and exceeding it, if you make special dispensation for Jake Carlisle and/or Jade Gresham).

Anyway, they certainly did better out of the mid-season draft than we did.

Although, to be fair, it was one of the first times in recent weeks we managed to execute a clean pass.

But the Saints certainly weren’t helping our cause yesterday, as we continued our frenzied battle of emotional attrition with Port, who lifted their one-upmanship to new levels: we go to Darwin, they go to China. We scrape over the line for a dour but miraculous win, they romp home with a percentage-boosting drubbing.

He sends one of yours to hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!

How big a percentage boost? Well, enough to spoil an otherwise perfect weekend…


As for us, our stay of execution is just that: a chance to ponder our mortality before a genuinely tough four-round run that includes the top two teams on the ladder (Geelong and GWS) and the two teams we most hate losing to (Richmond and Port).

It all starts this week with the ever-ominous Giants at home, and it’s probably safe to say that if we beat them we’re odds-on to play finals.

So, here’s an idea: let’s beat them.

Oh, and if we could do it without the need for yet another a heart-attack-inducing finale, that’d be fine too.

Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s shamelessly biased weekly football column, published on Mondays during the AFL season.

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