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AFL Round 23 – Adelaide v St Kilda: Mr Squiggle and Dr Smith, trapped aboard the Jupiter 2

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Remember the cranky blackboard that Mr. Squiggle used for an easel?

Blackboard’s catch-phrases are applicable to the 2014 Crows. All on their payroll should heed the be-chalked one’s gruff proclamations.

“Oh hurrry up!”

“Hmmph.”

“Double hmmph!”

“Booorrriing.”

In 1999 mere months after Adelaide’s second, and seemingly final premiership, Mr Squiggle was axed. However, there wouldn’t be a kid on your street who’s heard of Gus the Snail or Bill the Steam Shovel.

It has been too long.

The Adelaide Football Club is the now underperforming Harvey Norman salesperson who previously played bass in the long defunct, forgotten band that opened for Powderfinger, before a half-empty Thebby twenty years back.

They’re becoming the quiz night question, that no-one gets. Not even that young, skinny physics teacher who ambled in alone, and is drinking diet coke.

The autopsy states the Crows’ season died as the siren sounded in Sydney when Richmond knocked off the minor premiers. But misery can be complex. Was it actually last week against North? And the defibrillator was whirring during those home losses against the Tigers, West Coast and Melbourne.

Or was it already on the fritz way back on that balmy Saturday in April after the Swans spanked us at home? When we were 0-3 with the ambulance already shrieking towards War Memorial Drive?

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St Kilda start brightly, and register the first major. It takes the Crows ten scrappy minutes to score courtesy of Taylor Walker. The visitors dominate play, but fail to assemble any scoreboard pressure. Kicking like Mark Waugh used to bat, he then gets another.

A Tex roost is among our code’s joys.

Plainly dejected, Bruce McAvaney has left the growl home at Glenelg South. His descriptions reflect the stature of the match. It is an exhibition game between the locals, who, like Bob Dylan in concert, are maddeningly erratic. And we’ve got the AFL’s eighteenth best side.

In a spurt, Adelaide inserts five goals and smotes the Saints. Suddenly, it’s an unpleasant mismatch, like a professional footballer setting fire to a hired dwarf on Mad Monday.

At one terrifying point in the second quarter the commentary team go a complete minute without mentioning Lenny Hayes’ retirement. The Channel 7 receptionist has me on hold, and then, over the muzak, I hear Tom Harley reminding us the Saints star is the all-time leading tackler. Wow-wee!

Relieved, I hang up.

Adelaide and St Kilda exchange easy goals early in the second half. Whilst there are six-pointers aplenty, the contest now has less fizz than flat Fanta. Mrs Rutten is well thrilled as her Ben kicks a goal with his last kick in AFL, due to a handball from that most scarce of footballing creatures, the unselfish, crumbing forward. Eddie Betts is then compensated with the fifth major of his own in a fifty goal season.

Of some interest to the crowd is the third stanza moment when the Crouch brothers are on deck together for the first time. They’ll provide substantial midfield grunt for many seasons. Of course, they’re the first siblings to wear the tri-colours since the Jarmans, who are now providing substantial midriff grunt.

Game over, but questions remain.

Did Farren Ray and Spencer White co-star in a string of 1930’s Hollywood musicals? Why is Leigh Matthews still in the media, when Basil Zampelis is offering his considered insights? Did James Podsiadly play for Geelong? And, if you had the choice, who would you take to a Hugh Grant rom-com: David Armitage or Samantha Armytage?

*

It has been too long.

Listen. You can hear it. On a distant AM radio. So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999. Yes, it is Prince. When Mark Bickley last thrust the cup aloft, 1999, somehow, remarkably, hadn’t yet happened. Like The Jetsons, the song was in the delicious, crazy future.

With an official mission launch date of October 16, 1997, Jupiter 2 of the cult TV series Lost in Space was, at least narratively, drifting silently about the galaxy when The Crows last triumphed. And Dr Zachary Smith was the show’s enemy agent and saboteur.

If he were to burst flamboyantly into the 2014 Crows’ post-season review he’d surely exclaim to one and all, “You bubble-headed booby!”

mr squiggle

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AFL Round 3- Adelaide v Sydney: Danger in Dallas

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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.