Friday Night Footy… the showcase evening of our game, huh?

Hmmm… we may want to reconsider which teams we’re trotting out in the marquee slots, and at which time of the year we do this. As someone with no skin in the game, this wasn’t the kind of contest that got the pulse racing. Nor was it close… or for the most part, entertaining.

Wow, way to no-sell a game, Mongrel.

Well, I try not to piss down your back and tell you it’s raining (thanks Denis) so being honest about this contest is probably the wisest course of action.

We had the Bombers, coming off a couple of losses against A-Grade opposition, and plenty was expected of them in this clash against the Crows. I’m not saying they failed to deliver – four points and a ten-goal win are things you’d take every round of the season if they were offered to you, but you get the feeling this could have easily been a real trouncing had the team been “on”.

As for the Crows… well, it was possibly the darkest night in their history, scoreboard-wise, at least. They hardly looked as though they were going to score, and when they did get a run through the middle, some poor decision-making and poor execution brought them undone way too easily. Without Taylor Walker, they looked rudderless, and with Tom Doedee being subbed out of the game following a heavy clash with Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, it left Adelaide without a leader at both ends of the park.

Let’s get into the good, bad and ugly of this game.

 

A PERTINENT QUESTION TO BEGIN

So, where do you sit on the outrageous courage displayed by Tom Doedee in this game?

Cards on the table, I love this kind of stuff. Maybe I am a neanderthal at heart, but the physical aspect of the game is one of my favourite parts of footy, and as time ticks by, we see fewer and fewer instances where a player puts his body on the line and throws caution to the wind.

I will sing Doedee’s praises in both this incident and as a future leader of the Adelaide Football Club, as these types of acts can be inspirational and set a standard that everyone has to follow – when it is your time to go, you go.

However, there is another school of thought on the subject, and it came to light in the comments after I posted a video of the clash on our Facebook page. There are some who believe he should not have contested the ball, and pulled up. They believe that he was never going to make the contest, so why should he put himself in harm’s way just to show how brave he is.

I disagree vehemently with this stance, but I understand why people would say it. Does a moment’s courage outweigh the greater good of being around for the remainder of the game AND next week? What message would it send the players coming through if their future captain – and he will captain this side – pulled out and elected not to put his body on the line? How could he ask the same of his teammates if he was not prepared to do it, himself?

There is zero question in my mind that Tom Doedee absolutely did the right thing in running back with the flight. Had he made the spoil, or disrupted the contest and NOT been concussed, everyone would be singing his praises. It turns out that he did get hurt, and all of a sudden, armchair critics want to tell you that he shouldn’t be doing that type of thing?

In many ways, football supporters have been conditioned to think this way over the last 15 or so years. They’ve been told that the head is sacrosanct, there is a duty of care, and above all else, there is a safety aspect to football that players, and fans, never really considered “back in the day”.

I ask you – how would you have reacted had Tom Doedee elected not to launch at that contest and obviously pulled up short? How would you have reacted a few weeks back if David Mackay pulled out of the contest that saw crash into Hunter Clark?

I reckon we all know the answer to those questions.

There have been several instances in 2021 where I have watched players take a short step or two approaching a contest. I cannot blame them – there has to be an element of self-preservation about how you play footy, but when I watch some of the courageous acts in footy – Jonathon Brown, Jimmy Bartel and Nick Riewoldt running with the flight of the footy to take gutsy marks, or Jordan Lewis keeping his eye on the ball with Jarrod Harbrow coming the other way, I think of one word – courage. I don’t think about how they probably should have pulled out of the contest to save from possibly getting hurt.

And I didn’t think that for a second with Doedee either. It was gutsy, it was committed, and it was the type of action, if I were an Adelaide supporter, I would be proud of.

So, hit me up with what you think. It’s fine to disagree – it’s healthy – but keep it respectful. Cheers.

 

 

THE GOOD

 

MERRETT MAKING MATT’S LIFE DIFFICULT

Earlier this week, my friend and yours, Matt Oman, released his most recent Rolling all-Australian team for The Mongrel.

And once again, Zach Merrett was missing. Matt may feel he dodged a bullet this week, as people seemed more concerned with the dropping on Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti than they did about the snub of Merrett, but how long can Matt ignore this bloke? Surely he has to slot him in at the expense of some other midfielder soon, right?

Yes, Matt… I am taking the piss, but the form of Merrett has been so good that he is making things increasingly difficult when selecting the team. I mean, you have Parish as a bit of a lock at the moment given his inspired run, but can you realistically have two mids from Essendon, who will still be outside the eight following this week, and could be as low as 12th, when you have three Dogs that are just as deserving?

Only Bont and Macrae are in the team at the moment. No Libba. Someone has to miss out.

Merrett was far and away the best player on the park in this one, notching 35 touches and eight score involvements. As people start to look for Brownlow winners in the mix, Merrett is a proven vote-getter, slotting into the top ten over the last five seasons, and with the Bombers starting to hit their straps, he could be a real smokey.

So, if you were forced to choose – and don’t give me the “I’d just pick both” line – I am asking if you were forced to choose – and just one can make the AA team, is it Parish or Merrett?

It’s like picking your favourite kid.

 

HERE’S ARCHIE

He could have sewn up a Rising Star nomination with some straight kicking, and a bag of five goals were beckoning the youngster in this game, but a couple of wayward set shorts meant that we had to content ourselves with 3.3 from the first-year man as he demonstrated that there are more strings to this Essendon youth bow than just Nik Cox.

Perkins was compared to Geelong and Essendon star (yes, I know that’ll piss off Geelong supporters), Paul Chapman by David King. I’m not sure where he gets that comparison from – Chapman was a little barrel of muscle, but regardless of the physical differences, the fact that Chapman’s name was being thrown around is an indication that Perkins is doing something right.

I mean, the last time I was compared to a Norm Smith Medallist was when I grew an awesome mullet and looked a bit like Gary Ayres… complete with big calf muscles.

Perkins was good as ground level and in the air – he even managed to convince the umpire that being swung 720 degrees and dropping the footy was completely legal, so you know he was having a good night.

In the end, he made a strong case for the Rising Star nod, joining teammates, Cox and Harrison Jones, and when the Bombers have three kids all nominated, it spells trouble for the competition down the road.

 

THE RUN CONTINUES

This is a bit of a purple patch for Jake Stringer, isn’t it?

I won’t be cynical at all and tie it to his ongoing contract negotiations, which have been reported as being “miles apart” in terms of what he wants and what the club is offering, but it does seem a little coincidental, don’t you think? In the NBA, they call this a contract year, and often, a player seems to grow a little taller and hustle a little more when there is the chance for more money on the table. I just wonder about Jake’s motivation…

Alas, good footy is good footy irrespective of how much money is being bandied around, and Stringer, after years of fitness and injury worries (yes, they are two different things) seems to be in career-best form.

Over the past four games, Stringer has averaged 25.25 disposals, 6.75 clearances, and 2.25 goals per game. Whether you like the bloke or not, those are All-Australian numbers.

Of course, over the course of the season, those numbers level out, but it gives a good indication as to how rich a vein of form Stringer is in currently. His strength in the contest, ability to shrug tackles as though his opponents were children hanging off him, and his killer instinct when running forward with the footy have been on prominent display the last month as he has let not just the Bombers, but the entire AFL know that he is the real deal and could be the difference between a good side being great and a great side becoming premiers.

So, Bomber fans… do you take the risk and cave to what he wants? Do you feel a little reluctant to commit long term given his injury and fitness history? I sure as hell would, but in the meantime, I am enjoying Stringer showing the world what he thinks his services are worth.

And given the results, it is getting more difficult to argue with him.

 

THE PLAYER MASON REDMAN COULD BE

I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Mason Redman for a couple of seasons now, but I just have not seen enough of it.

When the Bombers were screaming out for someone to replace the run and carry of Conor McKenna (geez I am glad the Bombers got rid of him) and Adam Saad, I didn’t expect Nick Hind to come out and do what he’s done, and I may have had my doubts about how good Dyson Heppell would be across half back. What I did expect was for Mason Redman to step up and take his game to another level.

Obviously, the play of Hind and Heppell has mitigated the necessity for Redman to provide that level of run, carry and intercepting, but he is still highly capable, and when he is given the room to move, and the responsibility of playing a major role in defence (albeit against a dysfunctional forward set up), he can really be an effective weapon.

Redman collected a career-high 25 touches and also notched career-numbers in marks as he collected eight intercepts as part of the wall the Bombers built across half back. Redman has really filled out over the past two years and doesn’t just look quick now – he looks powerful when he drops the hammer and takes off. His kicking is on point and he is looking very confident with the ball in hand.

At 23, Redman has some development left in him, and though he is often overshadowed by the brilliance of Jordan Ridley alongside him, his inclusion in this Essendon defence gives them a really versatile option that can be a danger on the rebound.

 

THE SHINING LIGHT

There was not much to smile about if you’re an Adelaide fan, but the job Harry Schoenberg did on Darcy Parish was as close as anyone has got all season to cutting him completely out of the game.

This was the first time since Round Two that Parish has been held under 20 touches, with Schoenberg taking his role as nullifying mid very seriously. I am happy to be corrected by Bomber fans, but is this the first legitimate time Parish has had to deal with a run-with player for the entirety of the game? If so, it should be a good learning curve for both him and the team.

I didn’t see many of Parish’s teammates go out of their way to lay a block on Schoenberg and allow Parish much freedom at stoppages, and his one clearance in the second half perhaps intimates that with the game beyond doubt, the Bombers players didn’t think there was much point in getting Parish off the chain? Particularly with Merrett and Stringer so effective at stoppages?

Still, the Crows could have a smile about the dedication of their young bull, who had 20 touches of his own and laid seven tackles for the contest. On a very dark night of footy for the club, he was the one bloke holding the torch as an example of how to stick to the task at hand.

 

THE BAD

 

CONSISTENCY?

I want to highlight two instances in the same quarter that were umpired completely different, and ask you to be the judge.

Brodie Smith was pinged for blocking/shepherding/guarding the space… or something in a marking contest on the wing in the second quarter. It looked to me as though it was a rudimentary case of holding his ground, then reaching back to take the mark, but the umpire blew the whistle and awarded the free kick to Nik Cox, despite the fact Smith got a hand to the footy in the marking attempt. Pretty clearly, too.

Minutes later, the ball was kicked inside the Bombers’ 50, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti did exactly the same thing to his opponent… except more blatant, didn’t touch the footy, but was permitted to run onto it without an infringement being called.

Now, this is not an anti-Essendon rant, so settle yourself down – it is a pro-consistency rant, and when you have two situations that are very, very similar, and you reach very different conclusions when assessing them, we have a pretty bloody big problem.

And don’t get me started on holding the ball. I don’t blame the umpire for the non-call on Archie Perkins being slung 720 degrees before dropping it – I blame the shit interpretation the umpire has to adhere to. Common sense says holding the ball – someone needs to use it occasionally.

 

WINGS CLIPPED

You guys know I love the wingmen, right? I used to play the role back in juniors before my coach realised I liked tackling people too much and shifted me into the middle. So, I kept a keen eye on the outside runners in this one, so as to be informed when I release our wingman rankings this coming Tuesday. /Cheap Plug.

To see both Paul Seedsman, and Kyle Langford limp off, with the latter subbed out of the game, it kind of broke my heart a little.

It was great to see the commentators both on Fox and as part of the Channel Seven commentary team acknowledge how good Seedsman has been this season. Sure they’re about six weeks late to the party, but it’s still within the timeframe to be fashionably late, I guess.

Langford’s injury is being reported as a hamstring, and with him cracking the top ten a couple of weeks ago, the timing of his absence is terrible… at least in regard to the wingman of the year award.

Seedsman, who has a big TBC next to his name on the injury list, is the worry. He is so far out in front in the award that all he really had to do was continue playing an at average level and he would have cruised to a win.

And now his victory will be under threat from the peloton chasing him.

Yes, the Hugh McCluggages, Andrew Gaffs and Karl Amons of the AFL world may be smiling at the opportunity that now confronts them, but me – I just like seeing the best wingman in the game playing well, and these two were having pretty damn good seasons.

 

THE UGLY

 

THE LOWEST SCORE ON RECORD

There is no wallpapering over this, and Adelaide supporters are going to beaten over the head with it for days on end following this game.

The lowest score in team history occurred in this game, as the Crows struggled to find anyone capable of hitting the scoreboard. Last week, it looked like it was going to result in a goalless first quarter until Paul Seedsman launched a goal from long range to kick start Adelaide, but this week, you could see them trying to get the engine running, but the dam thing just wouldn’t turn over.

With Taylor Walker in the side to draw the heat, the Crows were forced to kick to Billy Frampton as their number one option. Some may argue that Riley Thilthorpe was the number one option, but at 19 years old, even Tony Lockett would have struggled to hold down that spot. No, this was Frampton’s time to shine, and for the first six or seven minutes of the game, it looked as though he may have been up to the task. He took three marks and had four touches in relatively quick succession against Jayden Laverde before the Bomber forward turned defender took control of their tussle and cut Frampton out of the game.

Don’t be fooled by the stats – Frampton may have finished with 18 touches, and I am sure stats watchers would be applauding his ability to find the footy, but he found it in defence when he was shifted away from the forward half – he was completely ineffective there.

Just one of Frampton’s touches came in the forward fifty after quarter time.

Thilthorpe was blanketed by Jordan Ridley, who once again allowed himself the freedom to drift off the ineffective youngster to impact other contests. He had six intercepts and eight spoils as he outmuscled and outpositioned Thilthorpe in close to every contest.

That left the smalls.

Lachie Murphy was good in the third quarter and virtually missing in the other three, but at least he had an impact in one quarter. Ned McHenry may as well have taken a seat behind the goals and handed the footy back to the bloke kicking in – it would have got him a lot more than the four touches he picked up playing the game. Jimmy Rowe tried hard but his 13 touches failed to have an effect as well.

The Crows missed Walker incredibly, but with the ball coming inside 50 just 31 times (to the Bombers’ 61) you have to wonder how many opportunities Tex could have had if he played.

There is no other way to put this – this was a complete and utter breakdown of a forward structure that has become reliant on the wonderful exploits of a bloke people were saying was past it last year. They need Thilthorpe to come on really quickly, and a half forward with real goal sense and a willingness to attack the body of an opponent inside 50 are paramount to this team improving.

To illustrate that final point, the Crows had three tackles inside 50 all game. THREE! The Bombers had 20,

And there’s the game in a nutshell.

 

SOME QUESTIONS

 

IS WILL SNELLING ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYERS IN THE LEAGUE?

Well, that’s why I am asking the question, isn’t it?

Snelling is one of those half forwards who just tends to get busy and creates opportunities for others. Never the first, second or even third target, he is like the garbage man of the Essendon forward half, and I mean that in the best possible sense.

In basketball circles, a player by the name of Cedric Ceballos earned the title of the garbage man at one stage, as he did not need the plays to be run through him in order to notch 20 points per game. When a play broke down or there was a loose ball, there was Ceballos, ready to pounce. That’s how I view Snelling.

Back in the team after a few weeks out, he well and truly earned his place in this side. With 24 touches and a goal, it was a nice night’s work.

 

WAS THIS THE TURNING POINT FOR NIK COX?

I’m not sure.

He was down for a couple of weeks, but he was also matched up against a young fella that had hit the wall, himself, earlier this season, so I am unsure as to whether he was just a bit fresher than Lachie Sholl, or if he has broken out of the funk he found himself in.

We’re quick to judge after one game a little too often, so I’ll reserve my judgment until after the North Melbourne game next week.

 

IS THIS THE LOSS THAT SETS THE TONE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE ADELAIDE SEASON?

It might.

They have a lot of young players, and though they got on their bike late last year, this looked like a tired bunch of players in this game. This time last year, the season was basically over, so this would be feeling like a marathon. They have the Eagles next week, who will be looking for blood, particularly if they get over North this week.

For the growth of their kids, they cannot allow it to be a flogging.

 

WOULD YOU “REST” HARRISON JONES?

Either him or Cox, but given young Harry just had his third-straight game of five touches or less, I reckon the time might be right to give him a week off.

Perkins and Cox burst back to life this week, but Jones still looked as though the season had caught up with him.

 

OTHER BITS

 

So, how do the seagulls know about Marvel Stadium if the roof is usually on? They’re pretty bloody cluey…

I mentioned him above, but I should probably acknowledge the work of Jayden Laverde a little more. He completely owned his position in this one, and his eight intercepts felt like a lot more as the ball was consistently rebounded from half back. After the first five to ten minutes, he owned the air.

And that’ll about do me. I’m getting tired – it’s a side effect of being old, you see?

It wasn’t attractive by any stretch, but the Bombers got the job done and a ten goal win is nothing to sneeze at. A 100-point win would have been nicer, but hey… my team is second last – what do I know about big wins? Nothin’!

Massive thanks to our members for your ongoing support, and never play down how much guts it takes to run with the flight of the footy. Tom Doedee… get well soon, bud.

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