I don’t like the Adelaide Crows. I don’t think you’ll find a lot of North Melbourne supporters who do. They’ve given us more pain I reckon than any other club in the AFL.
Think of the infamous Petrenko game. Think of Wayne Carey strutting around in their colours. Think of all those wins we’ve had against them in South Australia (hint: there’s not many). Do not even mention the 1998 Grand Final.
But, it’s much as Wes Mantooth once said to Ron Burgundy: “Deep down in my stomach, with every inch of me, I pure, straight, hate you – but God damn it, do I respect you.”
Stop and have a think for a moment about all the bad hands that Adelaide have been dealt with over the past few years.
First, there’s the enormous amount of talent that has left the club. Patrick Dangerfield is the one that sticks in the mind at the moment, but don’t forget about Nathan Bock, Phil Davis, Jack Gunston, Kurt Tippett, and Bernie Vince.
Combine those five with Dangerfield and you’ve got enough talent going out the door to make any club recruiter cry. Some list managers would shrug their shoulders and give it up – oh well, we gave it a try, how about a rebuild?
Most of those players have resulted in Adelaide getting a decent enough trade return but Kurt Tippett was very much the opposite of that.
Now this is self-inflicted pain to some degree so while I would happily criticise those Adelaide people who brought it on the club, one must still admire how the current administration has overcome it.
For those with short memories, when Tippett left the club it was discovered that there had been some untoward deals being made between him and the Crows, which resulted in bans and fines for many, and two years worth of first and second round draft picks being taken from the Crows.
Lastly and most tragically, this is a club that has lost two beloved coaches in the space of just a few years – assistant coach Dean Bailey passing away following a bout with lung cancer in 2014, and senior coach Phil Walsh in absolutely tragic circumstances only a little more than a year ago.
No other club in the AFL has been put through that kind of suffering in recent times, arguably ever.
There’s not a single footy fan who would give them any kind of criticism if they had just rolled over for a little while.
But not Adelaide.
While other clubs might whinge and whine and complain about their disadvantages, or a lack of handouts – see Justin Leppitsch’s press conference last week – the Crows have never wavered from their commitment to excellence.
Look at them now – they’re in the mix to be considered the best team in the year. They might win the flag this year and, putting aside my own biases, I genuinely hope they do.
Could there be a more satisfying sight in footy, after what they’ve been through, than seeing them hold up the premiership cup?
Even if that doesn’t come about this year, or even in this era of the club, they can still be immensely proud of what they’ve achieved. As the saying goes, you can’t guarantee success, but you can deserve it – and the Crows certainly do.
Their future, by the way, is very bright. They don’t have much in the way of big retirements coming up, bar Scott Thompson who probably finishes up in a year or two.
Meanwhile they have so much improvement to come from the likes of Charlie Cameron, Brad and Matt Crouch, Jake Lever, Wayne Milera, Mitch McGovern – oh, and the untapped talents of Curtly Hampton, Troy Menzel, Tom Doedee and Dean Gore.
Adelaide, when you achieve the ultimate success – and I believe the day is not very far away – I’ll gladly tip my hat to you.