Saturday morning, in Singapore’s Boat Quay. The footy’s on in an Australian-themed pub called the Dallas Bar. I imagine somewhere like Uzbekistan there’s an American boozer showing baseball, and named the Wagga Wagga.
I’m seldom homesick, but today I am. It’s the Crows first game at Adelaide Oval. Since dawn it’s been bucketing here, and despite the heat, our sodden skies contrast with the sunshiny allure on the screen.
For his new club Buddy has so far done little, but he slots the first goal from fifty. In our code a Franklin major, unlike the Franklin mint, often provides a twinkling of beauty. He’s an elegant kick, not thumping like Travis Cloke. Buddy’s about finesse and timing; more Mark Waugh than Dave Warner. The mythology seems true: Adelaide runs players and teams back into form.
Sydney youngster Luke Parker gets two in a rush, and then Malceski contributes. The Crows are tentative, and lack intelligent aggression. Our backline is a jumble. As fabled Kimba coach Danny Horgan says, “They’re playing with a pocket full of eggs.”
Among the second stanza highlights is a dazzling chase from Crow Brodie Smith. Leroy Jetta’s shrieking through the middle, seemingly clear, with Buddy streaming out towards him. Approaching half-forward, Jetta takes a bounce. Gaining on him, Smith launches himself, and slings Jetta down. Superb tackle! It could be a catalyst.
It is. Like the ghostly detective in JB Priestley’s An Inspector Calls Adelaide “takes charge massively.” However, inaccuracy, chiefly through lightning fast, and thunderously built Josh Jenkins, leaves the ascendency with Sydney at the main interval.
Doubtless, the Dallas Bar would be stripped of its Texan moniker if it didn’t deliver a burger the size of Damian Monkhorst’s head. It does, and I star in my own half-time show.
For the third time this season Adelaide threatens hollowly in the third quarter. When Dangerfield and Mackay kick long, stirring goals they appear poised for victory at the fetching oval.
But Buddy again murders the Crows with a wily baulk and a buoyant six-pointer. We’re in grave danger. But as Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Nathan R. Jessup growls in A Few Good Men, “Is there another kind?”
Lady Penelope’s chauffeur Parker then registers his third. An impressive display, and the goal results from a prodigious handball by Kieran Jack. I know he shouldn’t, but I’m reminded of this sentence, which tidily illustrates the value of capital letters: I helped my Uncle Jack off his horse.
At the final change the Swans lead by four goals. During the huddle the Adelaide forwards must’ve inhaled multiple Dallas Bar burgers for they then unforgivably kick seven behinds.
Here in Singapore our own hot deluge continues. Meanwhile, there are telling majors to Hannebury, Cunningham (not KG) and the man with an appellation like agricultural pesticide, LRT. Nothing functions for the Crows. Betts, Petrenko and Griggs all miss opportunities. Like Curtly Ambrose decades earlier, the Swans are fluently annihilating the locals on their own pristine arena.
My friend R. Bowden’s at the game with his toddler. With the match now a catastrophe, the two-year old’s response is reasonable. The bathing sunshine, and Daddy’s football torture offer no choice. He falls asleep.
Bowden and I were among some Kapunda boys who finished our playing careers at the Unley Jets. Late in that season we suited up in the C Grade (obligatory, self-applied nickname: The C Men) against the Glenunga Rams.
The match decided who finished bottom of the A8’s, then Adelaide football’s lowest competitive rung. It was a dreadful July afternoon, and, of course, Unley was whipped.
In the fourth term, my cousin Puggy, once a handy footballer, and also tagged Daicos as a junior, was dragged, mostly for symbolic effect, to rouse the rest of us into action.
As he ambled, for the ultimate time, from the forward pocket toward the bench, I hollered out to him, as only family can, “You know this actually makes you the worst footballer in Adelaide!”
That was a miserable match, made memorable.
On an autumnal afternoon, Adelaide against Sydney was a memorable match, made miserable.