Not that we were ever really in the match, but it was perhaps the first time this year that we saw extended glimpses of a cohesive game plan coming together – and the emerging and potential capacity of a young side to develop it.
McPherson looked good on debut, McHenry had a couple of nice passages and Jones laid a couple of important tackles, while Hamill looks so good he might one day even take the next step and request a trade back to Melbourne.
Still, let’s not go nuts.
We still managed only five goals and lost by as many.
I think I’ve said before that Crows debutants are rather like buses: you wait around for years with no sign of one and then a whole bunch turn up at once.
That’s even more true now, of course, with almost half our starting side having played 26 games or fewer – and seven of them still in single figures.
So if you’re wondering why we’re suddenly playing like a reserves side – it’s probably because half our players were until recently, in fact, our reserves side.
It was apt that this was David Mackay’s first match for the year, for the whole team performed as though paying homage to the way he always played the game: with a brave and endearing intent to commit to a course of action that is not necessarily within your capacity to execute.
And at the end of it all, we’re still left to ponder what became of the hard running, free scoring side that dominated the comp (until it didn’t) less than three years ago.
Still, no matter, for list manager Justin Reid told News Corp last week the club was halfway through a four-year list rebuild, so this is all very much Part Of The Plan and it’s all going swimmingly.
I was glad he explained this, because I had started to think we were right at the very beginning of said rebuild and that things were looking Quite Bad Indeed. But now that I know we’re actually halfway through, everything looks So Much Better.
By my calculations, that could mean the first initiative of our Rebuild adventure was… yep, you guessed it – that Gold Coast preseason camp.
A strong opening gambit, certainly. It’s important to set the tone early.
That, of course, came hot on the heels of trading out two first-round draft picks for a guy who’d turn 29 before he’d even take the field in Crows colours, and then signing him to a contract long enough to see him through to old age.
Sounds like a helluva rebuild.
Still, onwards and upwards.
We’re all about the future these days – specifically, our next loss on our way to the Number One draft pick. Sure, for a while there I was getting worried Melbourne might conspire to steal our thunder, but it’s now clear we’re in a class of our own at the foot of the ladder in 2020.
Which might not be so bad, were it not that Port Adelaide is also on their own at the top of the ladder, and with a bunch of home games still to go.
I can only surmise that this year (which, let’s face it, is turning out pretty shite on all fronts anyway) is our equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back: it’s gonna end badly, with the evil guys in control and the good guys in disarray (and probably with one of our greatest young hopes recovering from a nasty injury).
So we’ve just got to bear it, knowing that Return Of The Jedi will be out within three years, and there will be much rejoicing.
In the meantime, we’re very much living the Episode V maxim that everything that can go wrong, invariably will.
As proven recently when emerging big man Reilly O’Brien inadvertently tweeted his motivational game notes, in which he threw some serious shade at his weekend West Coast adversary and one of the AFL’s premier ruckmen, Nic Naitanui.
Needless to say, this caused something of a stir, as well it might when the nearly-anonymous ruckman for the league’s bottom-placed side starts tweeting about his highly-fancied opponents like he’s Donald Trump:
As you no doubt know, ROB hastily sent a follow-up tweet saying he’d “had a mare” with a haywire iPhone, and explaining that he regularly jotted down such listicles of motivational sweet nothings to help boost his confidence before big games.
But he still didn’t clear up a couple of enduring conundra: what was with that mysterious sentence fragment at the end? “Thank”? Thank who?
Was he reminding himself to thank his teammates when he received the best-on-ground honours post-match?
And why did his faulty phone refuse to auto-capitalise proper nouns or the start of sentences?
So many questions.
had a mare, apologies 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/9j2BPe2vD9
— Reilly O'Brien (@reillyob) July 9, 2020
Anyway, as you’d also know, NicNat cleaned up at the centre bounces, setting up his team’s massive 13-4 domination in clearances from the middle, before magnanimously handing Red-faced Reilly a brand new $1500 phone post-match.
Which might mean that mysterious sentence fragment at the end was to “thank NicNat if he gives me a new phone after the game”.
And, to be fair, ROB did have a field day getting the ball and marking everything, and he did get up the field and have a grunt around the ground, so the notes probably came in handy. And moreover, he won the all-important AFL Fantasy points tally, which everyone knows are much more important than any actual game-day stats.
So, to sum up:
NicNat copped a whack,
Then gave ROB a phone.
These young Crows are coming home.
And the whole episode has heightened speculation about how ROB intends to get himself up for next week’s home fixture against the young St Kilda star Rowan Marshall, and fortuitously Fumbles has EXCLUSIVELY obtained the ruckman’s game notes ahead of the not-very-highly-anticipated clash:
The Crows are, of course, returning to Adelaide Oval and will, for the first time this year, play in front of a significant home crowd – as CEO Andrew Fagan reminded members in one of his occasional email missives this week:
Though, to be honest, he kinda lost me at “ups and downs”.
There were ups?
I must have missed them!
I remember a few downs – quite a few, in fact – but ups? Not so much.
Anyway, for reasons already explained, I won’t be attending the game next Monday – although given the way the COVID crisis is going, there’s every chance none of you will be either.
But given I’ll be missing it – and moreover, since it’s on a Monday night, won’t be writing about it either – there’s every chance the Crows will win.
But if they don’t, we’ll have set a new record – losing 10 games in a row across two seasons.
As it stands, we’ve equalled our nine-game streak that began way back in the doldrums of 1999.
That same year, St Kilda came out on the heels of a winning run and kicked a stunning first-quarter burst of goals, only to let slip a huge lead to a bottom-eight side and lose a seemingly-unlosable game.
Back then, it was a record 63-point lead to the Hawks that went begging after a nine-goal-to-one opening term.
On Saturday, the Saints turned back the clock, throwing away a seven-goal-to-one first term to lose to the lowly Dockers by a kick, in probably the most memorable game of this tedious, pointless season.
After that 1999 outing, they went on to be terrible for several years thereafter, starting with another loss the following week.
So we can only hope that history repeats.
Detrimental as it may be to our four-year Rebuild plan, sometimes it’s just nice to get a win too.
Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s shamelessly biased weekly football column. It will return in a fortnight, which means the Crows will probably win in the meantime.
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