And I say ‘good’, broadly, in the sense of it being the most undeniably wonderful thing that has ever happened in the entire history of humankind, ever.
But that’s a given.
What I’m still trying to figure out now, some two-and-a-bit days after it happened (and it surely happened, right? We didn’t collectively dream that bit? Or maybe it was some elaborate April Fool’s gag?) is how it happened.
Because it all seems so unlikely.
We never felt quite in the game; but we never felt quite out of it either.
Every time we’d get within two goals, Port would kick away again; and every time they’d get out to around four, we’d reel them back in.
And then, trailing by two points, the Crows looked sunk when Trent McKenzie, the Elmer Fudd of SA football given his recent propensity to injure himself, took a seemingly game-saving defensive mark with one minute left on the clock.
At that point, victory looked monumentally unlikely.
Even less so when a chaos-ball frenzy ended with a stoppage up the wing, with just 25 seconds to go.
And when Dan Houston took possession and bombed it towards Port’s forward arc with just 16 second – SIXTEEN SECONDS – on the clock… well, all hope was lost.
But then Frampton, as promised, came alive – and showed us the way.
The hulking forward-turned-defender – whose largely-forgettable night to that point had all-but earned him the moniker ‘Silly Billy’ – gathered the loose ball, flung it on his boot and (basically) found Hinge in the centre square, who launched it into attack – only for it to spill free from a valiant marking attempt by three-game phenomenon Josh Rachele.
Murphy chased it down, but fumbled and lost the ball – only to then be cleaned up by Mayes, who’d pushed into defence after a lively night up forward.
I mean, you know all this.
But my point is, at none of these moments did I, even remotely, believe we were any chance to win.
Let alone when Sydney recruit Jordan Dawson – a man so significant he requires two surnames and no discernible Christian name – was handed the responsibility to kick for victory from an acute angle in the north-west pocket… only for the kick to not so much drift right as launch there. Before, miraculously, curving back goalwards and sending (most of) the Adelaide Oval throng into ecstatic buffoonery.
Not to mention me, on my couch at home – where I was ensconced thanks to an untimely COVID outbreak at Château Fumbles – managing to damage both the wooden floorboard and my typing hand from repeatedly (and somewhat ill-advisedly, in hindsight) thumping the ground in triumph.
And while it was disappointing I didn’t get to try out ‘keep my team’s name out yo fockin mouth’ as a topical Showdown retort, it’s also highly probable that if I hadn’t been in iso we wouldn’t have won, so this is really all my doing and you’re welcome.
Now I, like (I suspect) you, have now watched those final scenes once or twice more (well actually, once or twice per hour, on average), and I will never figure out how that goal went through. It is one of the great footballing mysteries, like how Jarman ended up with ball in hand for his last goal in the ’97 Grand Final (“that’ll do; that will do”). I could (and, yes, will) watch it 100 times, and still never understand.
As one former political type put it to me, it was the most significant and unexpected swing to the left since the state election.
So well might we celebrate to the point of personal injury. Because, after all, this stuff almost never happens to us, does it? Not any more, at least.
I remember the great, and sadly late, Matt Price writing in 2002 about the time his beloved Freo’s off-season recruit Jeff Farmer goaled after the siren to defeat his former Dees teammates.
The match coincided with Price getting word that an old mate had suffered a heart-attack, prompting the writer to muse on two universal truths.
“Life is short, and we best take full advantage of it. And there is nothing better in this world than seeing your team get up after the siren.”
That was 20 years ago, and this is the first time I’ve been able to test this latter theorem.
Sure, we celebrated the turncoat Mitch McGovern’s post-siren goal to draw the match against Collingwood almost five years ago, a non-loss that was effectively a win, having come from 50 points down and consequently confirming our top-four status.
But the only previous time we’ve been able to celebrate actually winning a game with a kick after the siren was so long ago that the obligatory Titanic music hadn’t even been written yet, and there was no internet to post it on even if it had been.
? SOUND UP! pic.twitter.com/9BON0XsoWR
— Kieron Turner (@kieronturner) April 1, 2022
That was back when a strangely hirsute Rod Jameson kicked from 50 after the siren to defeat Fitzroy, way back in our inaugural year – of negligible consequence to me at the time, admittedly, given I was then a young teenager typically occupied more with angst and self-loathing than supporting the Crows. Until I grew up and happily discovered they were much the same thing.
It was the most significant and unexpected swing to the left since the state election
Moreover, that was merely a last-gasp win against the outright worst team in the league, after an awful game, and off a dodgy free kick.
And while I’ve obviously watched it a few times since, the delightfully surly early-90s commentary (“absolute murder”, lol) kind of detracts from any sense of there being, as Price would have it, nothing better in this world.
This was something else entirely.
And it was just the start.
There was also the small (large) matter of the Crows making yet another AFLW Grand Final on Saturday, which may feel like a formality having made four out the league’s five deciders, but especially given our perpetual angst we should never take for granted, for a moment, the fact of an Adelaide team that can be reasonably expected to win most weeks.
Unlike those commentators who breezily suggested the Crows should give up their Adelaide Oval Grand Final to play Melbourne on the “hallowed turf” of the MCG, which is obviously a brilliant idea to which we should clearly accede, along with anything else we can do to advantage our opponents in the biggest women’s football game of the year.
And even a Showdown win and a Grand Final berth wasn’t the end of it.
Even the Crows’ SANFL team managed an emphatic win in their equivalent fixture, which may be of little intrinsic consequence but that this is the side in which the AFL side’s next generation must toil when they are intermittently relegated to the Bs.
To see the likes of Berry, Hately and Thilthorpe playing not merely so well but with such cohesion bodes beautifully for this rebuilding side.
Especially since the dreaded ‘Rebuild’ was evidently starting to rankle with the supporter base, who broadly appear to have embraced the ‘Rebuilding’ concept – but only on the proviso that we can also win lots of games while we’re about it.
But in reality, as Morrissey used to sing, these things take time.
Sure, I’d like to be seeing more signs from our 2018 first-rounders, I’d love Fogarty’s pre-season hype to just once be matched with his on-field performance and, yes, I’d love to win many more games than we lose.
But there are good things happening too.
Despite being generally bad these past couple of years, we haven’t had any of those thumping three-figure losses of the type doled out to North on the weekend (although you’ll know who to blame if it happens in the next few weeks).
Sure, it could have happened once or twice: Port might have embarrassed us far more in 2020 if the game had run to regulation time, while we could count ourselves lucky last year that GWS didn’t kick straight when they towelled us up at home.
But our lowly finishes in the past two seasons have allowed us to recruit first Thilthorpe, whose club debut was possibly the greatest of all time, and now Rachele, whose was arguably even better.
Let’s face it, two five-goal debutants in 12 months is probably really pretty ok.
And how smart was Rachele giving away that 50m penalty to allow Boak a shot for goal with two minutes on the clock, knowing it would definitely give us back possession to set up the Showdown finale? Kid’s a genius!
So yes, we needed this weekend.
Not least after a week in which the Crows’ rebuild had been rubbished by the board director who has been almost single-handedly responsible for it.
We needed an unambiguous sign that things were on track; we needed a win whose memory can comfort us through the inevitable hardships ahead.
And indeed, we’ve had a few of them: that trio of breakthrough wins after the dire hell of 2020; against Geelong and Melbourne (and even the finale against the Saints) last year.
But after two seasons, patience was fraying – certainly if the responses of many supporters to the weekend’s team selection announcement was anything to go by.
For the record, of those players whose not just mere selection but very existence was questioned, all were solid contributors to the epic Showdown win: Himmelberg was a beacon up forward, and kicked the final two goals before Dawson’s sealer to bring us back into the match.
Truly, it was the greatest escape act by an Elliott since the final reel of ET – giving him very much the final word on his retention after a poor showing the previous week.
Gollant was gallant with four in just his third game, Crouch was poised and important, while let’s not forget the most inspired inclusion of all:
Anyone who complained about Murphy’s selection clearly neglected to factor in the prospect of his head getting ripped off in the forward 50 on the siren.
Truly, it was the greatest escape act by an Elliott since the final reel of ET
But of course, it was not merely the win, or the manner of it, or even the context of the season – but the fact of who we were playing.
It’s always significant when we take on the old enemy, steeped in Australian football history as they are through their legendary exploits in the famous black and white Magpies guernsey.
But enough about last week’s loss to Collingwood: I’m here to talk about Port.
Given my hopes were never astronomically high for Adelaide’s season, the prospect of the biggest Power failure in SA since the 2016 blackout has become a compelling narrative, with betting markets awash with speculation about the tenure of coach Ken Hinkley.
To be fair, Port were a basket case when Ken arrived, and they have made the past two prelim finals (and delightfully lost them both, in varying measure), all of which means he’s actually some kind of genius, apparently.
If nothing else, that theory at least gives some credence to the cliché about the fine line between genius and insanity.
But so bad were Port in their previous outing against Hawthorn (we can probably give Gunston his Mark Bickley Award back now, I think he’s earned it) at least one Port supporter was moved to give up on their team after the season’s first home game – surely a new record.
Indeed, Crows and Port supporters alike seemed uncommonly perturbed in the lead-up, after an admittedly risible pair of losses the previous round – with a general air of looming frustration among those that descended on Adelaide Oval for the Friday night fixture.
And while that frustration may have been borne out for Port, the good news for them is that the four-point loss was actually a significant percentage booster, lifting them from the bottom of the ladder the previous round to the lofty heights of 16th spot by Sunday night.
A few more losses of that calibre, and they might be pressing into mid-table territory before too long.
But there’s a certain karmic glory to it all, restoring order to the universe after the Motlop goal in 2018 – after we had battled the Power for his services the preceding off-season.
Not least because, as someone pointed out on Twitter, there was something remarkably special about the Power’s score of 13.14.92, and not just because of their terrible wayward goalkicking.
This time round, the guy who chose the Crows over Port consigned the Power to a 0-3 start with the final kick of the game, and all was right with the world.
So, yes: Matt Price was onto something. There is, very nearly, nothing better in this world than seeing your team get up after the siren.
But he wasn’t quite correct.
Seeing your team get up after the siren? That’s something.
But seeing your team get up after the siren over your most hated opponent, whom you haven’t beaten in three long years, and while simultaneously consigning them to a winless start from three rounds despite pre-season predictions of premiership glory?
Yep – that’s better.
Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s shamelessly biased weekly football column, published on Mondays during the AFL season.
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