12.40pm, Easter Sunday, 20 April
Like everything else, public holidays are allocated cautiously in Singapore. Confucian, Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic celebrations of the island’s polytheism. To an Australian it is puzzling that Easter is only given Good Friday. What beyond the resurrection? No Monday holiday! It is like Bruce McAvaney saying
So it is half time here in the Grand Final. It is all set up for a riveting finish. Will there be a comeback? Goodbye from the MCG. Stay watching for Are You Being Served?
Watching the game in our River Valley home as the equatorial skies open, I become nostalgic. Has any built environment spread more psychological benefit than Adelaide oval? The rustic scoreboard is a temple, and the happiness, contagious.
I love that 50,000 can be there, and when the ball travels into the ground’s northern half we see the Morton Bay Figs, evergreen and embracing, surreptitiously poisoning the otherwise chain-smoking opposition fans with fresh oxygen. A goal kicked to this end provides among the most fetching views at a sporting venue.
Despite the arresting re-development, it remains a cricket ground. Just. TS Eliot declared, “April is the cruellest month,” but autumn is Adelaide’s exquisitely liveable season, measured out with sunny and still afternoons.
GWS have a Curtly (Hampton) and a Devon (Smith) in their team giving it a Port-of-Spain quality, and the Giants dominate play early. They don’t kick sufficient goals though. A murder of Crows may be the collective noun, but such is the home side’s initial impotence that a suicide of Crows seems apposite.
Dangerfield’s season has been erratic, and scattered with anomalous decision-making and sometimes poorly applied aggression, but today, he is astonishing. His centre clearances generate many goals. Once a concern, his kicking on the run displays brutal penetration and sniper accuracy.
He is the complete modern footballer. He is also an old-fashioned footballer, and would belong in an ancient black and white photo taken on a muddy suburban ground like Alberton or Victoria Park. He can be ferociously brave. Occasionally he is poetic and elegant. Dangerfield will collect a Brownlow.
Becoming the eighth Crow to reach 250 games, Scott Thompson accumulates nearly forty inventive possessions. He even plucks multiple one-handed marks, and this artistry conjures the darts commentator Sid Waddell
Taylor is so hot he could hit the bullseye standing one-legged in a hammock.
After the final change Podsiadly slots a check-side major, and for the third consecutive quarter the Crows get one within the opening minute to establish an attacking tone. While he does not kick many goals, he adds appreciably to the forward structure, along with Eddie Betts, through creativity, pressure and contest.
Petrenko is effervescent, and Sam Jacobs rucks like the big, cheerful country boy he is; deceivingly simple and occasionally unwieldy, but with critical effect. Then Betts soars for a screamer, unsuccessfully, but contractually obliging Fox Footy caller Anthony Hudson to hyperventilate. They then cross down to special comments monolith Barry Hall, who sounds like Barry White but without the intimate diction.
Of his intimidating size Amity Island’s Quint would have said, “This shark, swallow you whole,” and indeed, Crow Josh Jenkins is a monster fish. Able to roost it from outside fifty, he uses his battleship physique with military clout, and collects four goals.
A highlight of Adelaide’s performance is its imaginative use of the footy on the elongated ground. Podsially sets up a Rory Laird goal, courtesy of a smart handball into space. However, the forward line cannot house Lynch, Jenkins, Podsiadly and Taylor Walker. Who will make way?
In a passage more agricultural Yorkshire than Homebush, Lamb kicks to Plowman across the field. It comes then to Cameron whose kick drifts right of goal. This is emblematic of the Giants as their best is exciting, but inconsistency is their anchor. Treloar’s final term goal is a sizzling and accomplished individual effort.
Key GWS forward Jonathan Patton tries to be a general, but too many orange troops have deserted. However, after the main break the Crows kick ten, while GWS get seven. This is positive for the visitors, and probably of minor unease for Adelaide. Against Geelong or Hawthorn, the Giants would have been mauled, without respite.
It does not have the seismic impact of the Crows’ historic win at Football Park in March 1991, when, in a striking announcement, they conquered Hawthorn by 86 points. But it is their first home victory of the new Adelaide oval era.
It is a beginning and a return, and Easter Sunday belonged to Patrick Dangerfield.