Four weeks ago, this game would have been ticked off as an easy four points for the Crows but – if a week is a long time in football, four weeks is an eternity.
Carlton is now one of the form sides of the AFL, having won three of their last four games while Adelaide has managed only one win during the same period – and that was a flogging of the hapless Gold Coast Suns who languish at the bottom of the ladder. The other three games involved significant losses to Geelong, Port Adelaide and Essendon and they are not travelling like a final eight side at the moment.
In the 38 matches played between the two clubs, Adelaide is only slightly ahead having won 20 games to Carlton’s 18, but recent history does not auger well for the Blues who have lost their last five games to the Crows, the last one being a flogging by over 100 points in the last round of 2018.
The five wins in a row is only two short of the Crows’ record of seven wins in a row against the Blues in 2005-2009 but it is unlikely that – with a new coach, new players and developing champions at Carlton – that record will be broken.
Of the last five losses, two have been by narrow margins (12 points and nine points) and both of these were at the MCG, the venue for Saturday’s game.
If Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker passes his fitness test, the Crows will be unable to cite injuries as an excuse as the Blues will be missing Charlie Curnow, Mitch McGovern and Sam Docherty from their best 22.
Whilst short on Top 100 players at Carlton, the four elite club game players they do have (Kade Simpson, Marc Murphy, Ed Curnow and Matthew Kreuzer) have all been valuable contributors and this week Simpson will play his 321st game, joining previous champions Ted Whitten (Western Bulldogs), Stewart Loewe (St Kilda) and Tyson Edwards (Adelaide) in 43rd place on the AFL all-time top 100 game players elite.
On the Blues’ club list, Murphy will pass David McKay and sit in outright ninth position on the game players list while Curnow will equal the exploits of Jim Clark and Ian Collins. Clark was a professional runner who played on the halfback line in two premierships, including the famous 1945 bloodbath against the Swans.
He won the club’s best and fairest in 1951 but left at the age of 26 to take up a coaching offer at Echuca and continued to play bush football for another 22 years.
Ian Collins hailed from Sale and finished up playing most of his 161 games in the back pocket, including the 1968 premiership win. After his retirement, Collins went into football administration, firstly at Carlton and then at the AFL before returning to Carlton as president.
Adelaide, as a much younger club, have a number of top 100 game milestones happening, the most notable of which is Tom Lynch and Eddie Betts matching the games performance of Scott Welsh and Bernie Vince.