The pride of South Australia is not the mighty Adelaide Crows
By Madison Mifsud-Ure
It’s been a difficult year for all clubs this season, but it seems no team more so than the Adelaide Crows have buckled under the pressure of fly-in-fly-out games, hubs and a compressed fixture. After losing many of their star players in the off-season including Eddie Betts, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Alex Keath, Josh Jenkins and Sam Jacobs, the Crows said they would begin a rebuild, but no one could have expected this. The Crows have gone from top to bottom in just three years. When there are only two South Australian teams in the competition the chances of them being on completely opposite sides of the ladder is extremely rare. So when your cross-town rivals Port Adelaide are the ladder-leaders while the Adelaide Crows are 18th and bottom there really isn’t much to smile about. It’s been a challenging season for Crows fans to watch loss after loss after loss. Their performance against the Sydney Swans in Round 1 was probably their best and most convincing chance of taking home the win, but need I remind you that too was a loss. Rory Laird has been one of the few positives to take away from their games. He has been excellent on the field since moving to the midfield providing pressure to a side with very little and was the leading disposal winner against the Pies in Round 11 with 37 possessions for the night. Laird has really led the way of this youthful side. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. The Adelaide Crows have made several changes to their list, recruiting Ben Keays ex-Brisbane player, Ben Crocker ex-Collingwood player and former Port Adelaide ruckman Billy Frampton. Rookie Ben Keays has been quite serviceable after spending most of his AFL career playing in the reserves at Brisbane. The Crows have had an AFL-high eight debutants and used 37 players across the course of the season, which is more than any other club. While it has been excellent to give so many young players more experience in the AFL and more opportunity to develop, it does seem odd that some of their more-experienced players are not making the team. Now when a player like Bryce Gibbs and even Billy Frampton to an extent, cannot even make the team when that team is losing every week, something must be wrong. Especially when these two players would give the Crows a boost in two areas they seem to be lacking in, a target inside-50 and a strong, clearance-winning midfielder. This season the Crows have had many big outs, with Rory Sloane, Taylor Walker, Tom Doedee, Daniel Talia, Tom Lynch, Brad Crouch, Wayne Milera, Riley Knight and Jordan Gallucci all sidelined for extended periods. The Crows have struggled in all areas on the field, their depleted list would not have helped but they just seem to be lacking, not running as hard, no consistency and are really struggling to string together four-quarters of tough, pressure-intense, contested and confident football. The Crows are rated 18th in the league in all major statistics culminating in points for and points against, which is very disappointing, especially given just a few years ago they had one of the best midfields in the competition. Injury concerns aside, the Crows need to completely change their game plan for the remainder of the season if they have any shot of winning a single game and not being the first club in 56 years to be winless for an entire season. They have to create contests, win clearances and set-up better defensively. They are only averaging four marks inside-50 a game and need to improve in the midfield exponentially. They are letting teams too easily take the ball out the middle and quickly move it into their (Crows’) defensive-50 and score. Changes also need to be made off-field. It’s been over 380 days since the Crows last secured victory and while it is a feat, it’s one I’m sure they are not proud of. With a current record of zero wins and 12 losses, the question remains: will it be a winless season for the Crows? For some reason I have a feeling we might see them achieve the biggest upset this year, beating Geelong at home. Now you may ask why I would think that, but given the Crows are highly underestimated, they literally have nothing to lose, and they will want to prove everyone wrong, this might just be their game to win. Nevertheless, the Crows will no doubt finish bottom of the ladder and receive the wooden spoon for the first time in their 30-year history.