The following information
is provided by Tim Murphy
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and email and is updated here Monday evenings after the weekends
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used with permission.
AFL Grand Final
We need Frank Black and his mates
down here, immediately. Back to back. That's the way they have
sex in Adelaide. Ah, we'll knock off the stirring 'cause they
are pretty damn good and because of Blighty, a true footballing
genius. He could be the first coach to die in office, it's hard
to see him being dislodged ever. The Crows' achievement, to finish
fifth (one spot lower than last year), play four finals interstate
(plus their round 22 game in Perth) and to come back after being
outplayed in the first half needs no qualifying description.
We even pulled the old cold shower trick, creating an elaborate
gas explosion to do it.
A big last Monday for St. Kilda.
Robert Harvey won the Brownlow Medal again, collecting votes
like he does the ball. Thirty-two of 'em he got, equalling the
most anyone's received since the 3-2-1 system was introduced,
apart from the brief period when they let two field umps award
votes. "Banger" got 6 BOGs and 6 two-votes, winning
by a comfortable margin from Collingwood's Nathan Buckley (24,
7 BOGs), Dog Scott West (23) and Adelaide pair Shaun Rehn (22)
and Mark Ricciuto (21). Wayne Carey, the popular tip, was equal
sixth with Demon Todd Viney on 20 votes. Perhaps Carey's late
season form obscured an ordinary (by his standards) first two-thirds.
Before round 15, he had 7 votes. Earlier in the year umpire-turned-commentator
John Russo suggested Carey's frequent arguing with umpires wouldn't
help him - no-one cares about that, so why the heck do we have
umpires decide our most prestigious award?
Earlier that day, the Saints
had sacked Stan Alves. No official reason has been given as the
Saints and Stan are in legal argument over his payout, but "club
sources" said that senior players had led the revolt, reckoning
that Alves had become abusive, irrational and uncommunicative
as the season wore on and that their early season form was "in
spite of him". Several players came out to deny that version
and Stan himself has been dignified, saying only that he was
disappointed and thanking the Saints for giving him the chance
to coach. Alves's 5-year stint made him St. Kilda's second-longest
serving coach. He was put on at a time when the Saints were broke,
lost Lockett a year later and eventually got 'em to a Grand Final.
No doubt this years' fade-out at the end didn't help. The Saints
expect to name a replacement this week, suggesting they've already
got someone in the frame. Demon Garry Lyon has been mentioned,
along with Tony Elshaug again.
A few retirements during the
week, West Coast captain and first-ever premiership leader John
Worsfold gave it away after 205 games. Described as "the
ultimate team player", Worsfold was sent a message when
he was left out of the qualifying final team against Footscray.
Richmond ruckman Justin Charles retired citing a chronic hip
injury. The former Bulldog and baseball player will be remembered
for his 16-week suspension for steroid use. Pity, he was an enthusiastic
character. North Melbourne forward Darren Crocker hung the boots
up, he played 165 games in an injury-interrupted 13 years with
the Roos and was chaired off by Carey and Sholl at North training
on Thursday night. Crocker was a good player and a good bloke,
an unusual combination at North. After winning the reserves flag
with Footscray full-forward Simon Minton-Connell retired, he
had stints at Carlton, Sydney and Hawthorn too. On Friday Fraser
Brown signed a new 2-year contract with Carlton, after his amazing
turd of a manager told the media twice during the week that Brown
had "definitely quit" the Blues. Hope he doesn't manage
any Richmond blokes.
At the MCG:
North Melbourne 4.4 6.15 8.15 8.22.70
Adelaide 3.2 4.3 9.11 15.15.105
Adelaide too good. They'd lost
their last six against North, but won the most important one
with an irresistable second half. North dominated the first half
but blew it with poor kicking (Pagan: "I don't think there
are many times when you have 30 shots for goal and get beaten
in a game of Australian Rules, but it happened to us today.")
and strangely lost their defensive intensity after the main break.
North didn't change their side at the selection meeting, leading
to a wave of sympathy for John Longmire which angered Pagan.
"There's four or five blokes who're unlucky to miss out,
not just John. Why single him out?", he said. One change
for Adelaide who dropped midfielder Chad Rintoul for ruckman
Ben Marsh, recalling last year when big man Aaron Keating was
plucked from the SANFL.
Warm, sunny day with a swirling
northerly breeze. Pre-game entertainment had kiddies waving bits
of cloth, Mark Seymour singing Holy Grail (Holding Down a D would've
been more appropriate for us) and Muhammad Ali doing a lap of
honour (in a car). TV constraints meant that we only saw half
of The Black Superman's appearance. The teams emerged, North's
Carey won the toss and kicked to the Punt Road end.
The Kangaroos were better throughout
the first half, they tackled and harrassed the Camrys as per
normal and the defenders held firm. No surprises amongst the
match-ups, for North Blakey had Jarman again, Scott played on
McLeod and Martyn took CHB on Robran, McCartney was at full back
on Pittman, initially. The Crows had Caven on Carey, Pittman
and Ricciuto started in the forward line. From the first bounce
Abraham gathered and kicked, Carey marked and punted forward
where the ball was rushed through. The Roo midfield dominated,
especially Abraham. Carey missed his first shot at goal but Blakey
majored from a free, pushed while accepting Harvey's pass, Sholl
missed a snap. Adelaide's last line defended desperately, Hart
the best. They hadn't been into attack in the first 10 minutes,
when they did Thiessen kicked on the full and Ricciuto behinded
from a long set shot. Ricciuto kicked their first goal after
a push from his tagger, Simpson. Things were squared minutes
later when Ricciuto thumped Bell and Simpson smacked the downfield
free for a huge goal. Carey grabbed a throw-in and snapped high,
Roberts marked and converted. Crow Thiessen kicked on the full
again before Jarman snapped a brilliant goal, twisting away from
Blakey and McCartney and bending a beautiful left-foot snap through
the big posts. Carey responded with an equally spectacular, although
more arsey, soccer-volley with the outside of his right foot.
Another Crow goal followed, Goodwin's handpass allowing a comfortable
running slot for James. Jarman planted a heavy bump on the prominent
Pickett to end an appetizing first quarter.
North continued to worry the
Cows out of it in the second term but they blew it with the 2.11
for the quarter. As much as bad shooting it was poor attacking
strategy which cost 'em. Bombing it in, shots from distance,
rushed snaps, an over-reliance on Carey. Still, it's always worked
before. Hart and Smart applied admirable pressure, when they
could. Blight moved Johnson onto the rampant Abraham but from
the opening bounce Rehn fumbled and McKernan pumped the ball
long to the goalsquare, Hart rushed it through. A magnificent
defensive smother from Pickett led to a Roo goal, Grant passing
to Pike and he dobbed it from 45m. North by 15 points. Grant
bananaed a behind, the Crows got a sausage from a free, Pittman
shoved by McCartney as he led to McLeod's pass. North led by
10 points and proceeded to kick 7 consecutive points. I got the
culprits on video. Carey, Roberts, Bell from a free (Ricciuto
thuggery), a rushed, Blakey, Abraham, a Carey snap which postered.
Finally Bell kicked truly with a running left-foot, following
another Crow move which had broken down under pressure. The Roos
led by 23 points. Smart had his head crushed by King, staggered
up to take the free and hooked it several rows into the member's
stand. Smarty went off for a rest and Jarman, Vardy and Eccles
all missed gettable shots, McKernan closed the quarter with another
behind. Still, North'd so outplayed the Crows with 21 shots to
7 that it seemed they'd go on to win.
Blight tried to speed up his
midfield in the second half, benching Ellen, Pittman and Connell
and bringing on Eccles, Thiessen and...er...Marsh. Ricciuto was
moved to a half-back flank and McLeod to the centre. North had
Freeborn and Rock come on for Pike and Grant. The Corollas started
on the way back immediately, big guns Jarman and the sublime
McLeod got to work. James won a free and kicked to Rehn at half-forward,
he found the leading Jarman. Goal. McLeod missed with a snap
but moments later handpassed for the passing Johnson to goal,
the margin was back to 11 points. Rehn cleared the next centre
bounce, the ball flew between Robran and Edwards before Vardy
missed a simple shot - but things looked ominous for North. Their
intensity had dropped, they'd stopped chasing and tackling in
their normal fashion and Crows like Thiessen, Johnson and Eccles
started racing through the midfield under little pressure. Ricciuto
was getting it in defence. McLeod looked set for another goal
but the umpire halted play for a Thiessen free, he missed. Johnson
pumped long to the goalsquare where Jarman roved for a nice major,
North by 3 points. Jarman and Marsh behinded from set shots.
Smart levelled the scores with a hooked kick which smacked into
the post, he appeared to mark behind the goal-line originally.
Norf's Abraham stemmed the tide, kicking a great long goal following
brilliant handling but Vardy levelled the scores again, McLeod
creating the chance. Robran hit the post to put Adelaide in front
for the first time in the game, by a point. Marsh marked King's
kick-in and handballed to Bickley, onto the speeding McLeod who
passed to Smart on a ridiculously tight angle when it seemed
easier for Macca to boot it himself. Never mind, Smart checksided
the goal. It was all Adelaide as they led by 8 points. Carey
took a good mark in the dying seconds of the stanza and passed
perfectly for the leading Allison. The siren went, Allison lined
up for a while and speared it through to keep the Shinboners
within 2 points at the final break. However it was their last
goal, unusual for a team credited with being the strongest finishers
in the league.
More McLeod brilliance opened
the final quarter of the season, making a six-pointer for Thiessen.
Next goal saw Thiessen pass to Jarman, he seized the ball fiercely
in front of Blakey and dobbed it from 45m. Crows by 14 points.
North missed more shots, they well and truly had the yips now.
Sholl and Bell were the culprits, the Crows wasted chances too
with points from Johnson and Jarman. Roo King blazed a running
shot. Crows by 13 points with 10 minutes to go, not insurmountable
if only North could get going. But they looked slow and tired.
Simpson booted long at the goals, Carey clutched a diving chest
mark just 20m from goal on a bit of an angle. He missed. Y'know,
Chris Grant would've kicked that. Richo wouldn't have. Immediately
Smart snapped a goal as he was slung in a tackle, the ball taking
a fortuitous bounce. Further evidence that the Adelaideians have
done a deal with the forces of Evil. McLeod swept the ball away
from the subsequent centre contest and found the leading Jarman.
He converted from a tricky position. It was the Crows by 24 points
with 7:30 to go, that was it. You could tell when Mark Stevens
was able to outmark Carey and play on with a few bounces. Bell
hit the post before Smart and Vardy kicked celebratory goals,
Blakey finished the game with North's 22nd point. "I always
thought North lacked pace," stated Neil Kerley. Funny how
he hadn't said that before the game. Or at half-time. Or ever
Continuing the back-to-back theme
Andrew McLeod won a second consecutive Norm Smith Medal for the
best player afield, the first player to do so. McLeod's speed
cut North apart in the second half, he had 13 kicks, 14 handpasses
and 19 gathers, the most of anyone on the ground. No goals, but
he created about 6. Kane Johnson (24 disposals, 9 marks, a goal)
played superbly on a wing, shutting Abraham down and getting
the Crows going in the third quarter. Jarman saved his best for
the biggest occasion again, booting 5 goals from 12 kicks and
8 marks after a slow first half (he had plenty of mates in that
respect). Rehn dominated ruck contests after half-time and once
again turned the game, 14 touches and 21 effective hitouts to
North's combined 10. Smart was good defensively in the early
part and after being belted by King he came back to play on the
forward line, proceeding to kick 3 goals. Thiessen (13 kicks,
a goal) and Bickley (23 touches) were important midfielders.
Ben Hart (16
kicks, 6 marks) will probably
be the unsung hero, his defensive efforts throughout the first
half helped prevent a much bigger North lead. Caven (19 disposals,
5 tackles) won much praise for his efforts on Carey and he did
well, although had Wayne kicked straighter it mightn't have looked
so good. Vardy kicked 2 goals. For North rover Anthony Stevens
kept running and collecting kicks all day, finishing with 22
kicks and 3 handpasses. Fellow rover Bell (26 possessions) also
worked hard but kicked 1.3. Martyn beat Robran at CHB and rookie
Pickett was very good again, although he faded after half-time
- like many of his teammates. Abraham had 7 disposals in a blitzing
first quarter but finished with just 13 and a goal. Ditto Harvey,
good in the first half but not seen in the second, he had 22
disposals. Adam Simpson wasn't bad on Ricciuto. Carey had 21
disposals, 5 marks and kicked 1.4. Good for anyone else, but
not for him. North had 8 goalkickers.
Pagan said "It's the first
time we've been associated with losing Grand Final (eh?
1974) It certainly hurts...especially how well we played early
in the game, how well we've played for the last three months.
Especially how committed and professional our guys have been....We
had so much of the ball in the second quarter, but really didn't
bury them when we had the opportunity. We (should have) kicked
five or six more goals in that quarter and didn't. I don't know
what goes on inside the mind of each individual, but maybe we
got in front of ourselves. But you can't deny Adelaide, they
were very slick after half time. Their midfielders were very
good, especially through the centre square area. In retrospect,
the first three goals after half time (meant) the whole psyche
of the game had changed...They just got the ball first. They
were very pro-active...Maybe at half time we projected an image
of we're doing well, we're past the post sort of thing. I don't
know..." On Carey: "I'm not going to sing about Wayne
Carey...he's human and we can't rely on him all the time. He
had 17 possessions, if anyone else played CHF and had 17 possessions
no one would dare question him..."
Blight said "North were
particularly tight early and we had to do something to break
the game open. Then, all of a sudden, we started winning those
shared balls. I thought we got on top in the 50/50s after that.
Kane Johnson really got the thing going, but I was pleased to
be able to leave Matthew Robran at CHF...he actually started
contributing.. We might have been lucky to still be in it at
half time, but they were lucky to still be in it at 3/4 time...when
you get your turn, if you don't actually nail it, that's stiff
because the other team will...we were in a spot of bother (but)
there's a belief in the team now and a consistency. We've lost
some close games this year, but not because we gave up. To come
from fifth, it's never been done before. And to knock off one,
two and three is not an easy task. You previously said that if
you win two in a row, you're freaks. Does that still apply?"
Essendon 1.1 4.3 7.5 12.8.80
Footscray 4.3 8.9 13.11 20.16.136
Goals: Foot: Cook 5, Minton-Connell 3, Watts 3, Dooley
2, Quill 2,
Lane, Macri, M. West, Reynolds, Contessa.
Ess: Somerville 4, Rioli 2, Dimattina 2, DiRosa, Lalich, Ukovic,
Best: Foot: Brown, Cox, Alvey, Powell, Macri, Contessa,
Cook, Quill. Ess:
M. Johnson, Oakley, Somerville, Bomford, Wallis, Lalich,
TAC Cup Under-18:
Murray Bushrangers 17.18.120
Geelong Falcons 12.12.84
That's it. Thanks to all for
the correspondence thoughout the year, it's been much appreciated.
I've been slack in replying to some, apologies for that - try
again if you like, I'll make more effort. But not for the next
week, as I'll be away. See yez in 1999- the Year of the Tiger!