John Harms was impressed by the Crows. Image courtesy of news.com.au/Adam Head/Gold Coast Bulletin
AFL Round 11 - Harmsy's Handle
It’s been another marathon of footy-watching for those of us who can’t get enough of the pig leather and other hides – across all codes – and it’s just going to get better, with the World Cup and the golf and the tennis to come. The weather has turned here in the Deep South. We’re all rugged up and trying to stay dry and now we have an excuse to get off the train at Flinders Street Station to get a couple of potato cakes and a dim sim from the little booths on the platforms. If you don’t get some warmth and sustenance you may expire before you get to Victoria Park Station, and what a way to go that would be, looking out over Dickensian Collingwood (who are travelling OK at the moment).
The weekend started last Wednesday with an absolute classic of the State of Origin genre with Queensland – one of the greatest attacking sides of all times – throwing absolutely everything at the Blues who defended courageously, intelligently, and powerfully, to get home.
Home from work Thursday night and it was time to see Sydney and Geelong. This looked like a beauty, but there were plenty of emails doing the rounds that afternoon suggesting Geelong had no chance with players out and a travel schedule which makes you wonder what they’re thinking at AFL House. The Cats played 12 days previously in Perth, then six days previously at home against North, and were then made to travel to Sydney to play a side coming off a bye. Work that out? And that’s how the game panned out: the fresh and capable against the also-ran.
Sydney looked unstoppable, and they are all the flag-betting rage as a result, but I’d still look at this result with a little caution.
The draw, which until now, has been a burden, opens up for Geelong, and, this will sound ridiculous, given the experts have written the Cats off as a result of that performance, they could be back in the Top Four by Round 17.
That Top Four is getting really interesting with Port a couple games clear and then a peloton of half a dozen sides biding their time. So much depends on this draw. The Suns, for example, have a tough June, before playing a few cellar-dwellers later in the season.
Meanwhile there are a couple of sides hoping thy can force their way into the Eight. In particular Adelaide and Essendon. Carlton and Richmond were in that same category, but proved on the weekend that they are miles off. Richmond were mind-bogglingly pathetic.
Essendon, if they can keep their heads together may trouble some of the better sides. Adelaide are improving as they get players back, and learning to take advantage of the Adelaide Oval.
Tex Walker’s return is already straightening them up. He is so important to the Crows: a big character and a quality footballer. He could be Jonathan Brown’s cousin.
You may remember one week when he was out injured, but had gone to Footy Park to watch the boys play. And, being a good Australian bloke, given he wasn’t strapping on the boots, he thought he’d have a beer. Which was caught on camera. The life-deniers of the media got hold of it and blew the whole scenario into something it didn’t need to be.
Here’s a counter-argument anyway: what value to the fabric of a team the sort of bloke who can rally the boys around him? The big character who makes blokes want to play – for something? A bloke who embodies what that something is.
There’s a story about Tex which gives an insight into the sort of bloke he is. Tex is from Broken Hill, where his father played in the rough-and-tumble local competition, where miners create scores and settle scores. The beauty of the four-team competition is that you don’t have long for the return bout to come around.
Tex had been a junior star and a much-loved character. Making his way with the Crows, it came time for his 21st birthday, which was scheduled for a Saturday night in Adelaide. The good folk of Broken Hill were all invited – and wanted to enjoy the occasion with their favourite son. But local footy is on a Saturday arvo in Broken Hill. So the League voted to move the two games of the round to Friday night and they all jumped in their cars the next morning to head off for the festivities. Everyone was happy.
That’s Tex. And he can play footy. He’s going to make a huge difference. The Crows have a tough month ahead, but they will be coming home with a wet sail.
Meanwhile, Freo just keep chipping away quietly in the background.
There’s many chances which is good for footy, and good for the long, winter ahead.
I’m looking for value – as always. If the moths come out today, they’ll be fluttering in the direction of Geelong to make the Top Four. Believe it, or not.
John Harms is editor of footyalmanac.com.au