Touch Of The Fumbles: Not the worst

It may have been against the world’s worst AFL side, but the Crows got a win yesterday – which, considering the alternative, is absolutely fine with our Fumbles correspondent.

Jun 27, 2022, updated Jun 27, 2022
Fog and Tex share an embrace as the pair kick 10 goals between them against North Melbourne. Ideally Fog manages that on his own at some point soonish. Photo: Linda Higginson / AAP

Fog and Tex share an embrace as the pair kick 10 goals between them against North Melbourne. Ideally Fog manages that on his own at some point soonish. Photo: Linda Higginson / AAP

It’s always great to see a team back in form and playing to its full potential.

I’m referring, of course, to Melbourne.

It’s been nice to have a few weeks in which to pretend the flag might be won by one of about 10 teams, instead of by the same lot that won it last year, but we’re clearly back to business as usual now.

Besides one or two members of their backline (Lever and May, specifically) the Dees are really quite a sympathetic premiership favourite, and now that they are (to use the official AFL parlance) ‘back in town’ I’d hate to be the team that has to play them next round.

Which is, of course… um…

Still, the Crows had a solid win as well, tempered only by the fact it was against one of the worst teams of the modern, or indeed any, era.

The Fog is rising. Photo: Linda Higginson / AAP

Still, it was a decent enough return for a young team, with our future potential highlighted by a six-goal haul… er, from our uncontracted 32-year-old former captain.

Nonetheless, we’ve always been told it would take our younger players 50 games to hit their straps, which sounded kind of arbitrary.

But then Darcy Fogarty obligingly played his 50th game yesterday and had 20 touches, kicked four goals and took the mark of the round, so I guess that theory was spot on after all.

It was a timely win too, our biggest since we played the Suns in 2019.

Still, a lot’s changed in that time: most notably, the Suns now being good, and us now being bad.

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Highlighted this week, of course, by Jack Lukosius, the South Australian former #2 draft pick we’d always sort of assumed would return to Adelaide at year’s end to mark the conclusion of our successful rebuild, who instead signed for another four years with Gold Coast.

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Personally, I blame those last seven minutes of last week’s game.

It was as if he saw how bad we were at close quarters, and sensibly decided:

But if that’s the case, it bodes well for the new object of our attention, last year’s #1 draftee Jason Horne-Francis, for whom we put on a much better display yesterday, and whose current team put on a much worse one.

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JHF, as he’s known, wasn’t actually playing – he’s serving a two-week suspension for a clumsy hit on GWS’s Josh Kelly, presumably a desperate bid to miss yesterday’s fixture because he couldn’t bring himself to play against his future club.

In all seriousness though, the kid was probably devastated to have been suspended for two games.

He was hoping to miss 10.

JHF. Not loving life at North, apparently. Photo: James Ross / AAP

Of course, the hysteria in Melbourne about JHF’s on-field belligerence and poor body language is somewhat out of proportion given he’s still a kid of 19 in his first season, and when he responded by rocking up to training with a shaved head prominent commentators reasonably suggested it was time to give the guy a break.

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Fortunately, he had teammates who could step up in yesterday’s match to audition for the mantle of ‘North Melbourne player who looks least happy to be there’, as the club cultivates a workplace enthusiasm akin to the storemen from Clerks.

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But there can be no doubt Adelaide recruiters will be putting the hard word on JHF to jump at season’s end from his very bad team to our slightly less bad one.

With the club making it clear it’s shifting gear from a drafting focus to a trading one at season’s end, there’s still hope (albeit minor) that Lukosius’s Suns teammate and fellow SA product Izak Rankine could seek a homecoming soon, with Port obligingly bungling its recruitment pitch by attempting to maim him at Adelaide Oval yesterday.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Izak Rankine, Tom Jonas, Aliir Aliir and Chris Burgess all fly for the ball yesterday, and all end up worse for wear. Photos: Michael Errey / InDaily

It was a great game though, enjoyed by a (snigger) bumper crowd of 26,214, one member of which was my 10-year-old son who, in the ultimate ‘proud Dad’ moment, went along to Port’s home game sporting a Gold Coast scarf.

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The Power’s win over the Suns keeps the club, bizarrely, in mathematical finals contention, albeit still rooted to the bottom of the portion of the ladder reserved for The Good Teams.

While we are prestigiously leading the portion of the ladder made up of The Bad Teams.

Charlie Dixon is pumped to be in the worst of the teams currently in finals contention. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

You know how when a good player is assigned a hard tagger who follows them around for a whole game, and they know that they’re a better player and the tagger is a bit crap, but they still can’t quite manage to get away from them?

That’s kind of like how Port is with us on the ladder this year.

Still, with all this talk of prospective recruits, it’s important not to forget that this rebuild is primarily about developing our own talent and forging our own culture.

The recruiting team cops a lot of flak over players that take a long time to develop, or never do, or for players we failed to pick.

So it’s only fair to point out when the talent scouts cannily identify a future star, and the emergence this season of one such player has proved a great vindication of our recruiting strategy.

Yep. Sigh. Photo: Dean Lewins / AAP

I mean sure, we’re not the club benefiting from his emergence, but solid talent scouting nonetheless.

And while it may not be one for the ages, we should enjoy yesterday’s win for what it was.

After all, we don’t get many of them these days, and a near-10-goal victory harks back to a time when we could take such things for granted, and maybe even hints that our much-derided rebuild might just bear fruit one day.

Particularly if we get to play North Melbourne every week.

Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s shamelessly biased weekly football column, published on Mondays during the AFL season.

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