There’s no footy. Richo and Browny are resorting to calling Xbox simulations of AFL fixtures. And Brian Taylor’s commentating on traffic. What better time to seek out some off-kilter and slightly unhinged reasons to watch each club in 2020?
The Brad Crouch saga at the tail end of 2019 read like the script for a bad rom com. Boy sees team. Team drafts boy. Boy catches the attention of another team. High jinks ensue. Mixed messages, flirtatious headlines, grand declarations of love (i.e. lowering his asking price), all capped off by all his friends (read: media pundits) chiming in with well intentioned but ultimately terrible advice.
The bona-fide ball magnet looked set to leave the Crows standing heart-breakingly alone at the altar, only to dramatically dash to the airport to declare “I 100 per cent want to stay here, I love it here, absolutely love it here”. Just like Kevin James in Hitch, the team got the boy, and entering 2020 crouch is dancing down the aisle towards his locker at Adelaide Oval with the renewed vigour of a man (back) in love.
If he continues to rack up monstrous midfield numbers and catapult the Crows back into contention, this relationship might just go the distance.
Sometimes the universe throws you an interwebs curve ball that shakes you to your core. I present to you: The Neil Craig David Mackay Adelaide FC Meme Alliance. A fan page of sorts dedicated to “Crows memes and the holy trinity of stubborn coaching, smooth R&B, and the elite running capacity of our founding fathers Neil Craig and David Mackay”. No doubt if this were the early 2000s, they’d have Luther Vandross or Boyz II Men as their MySpace profile song.
Mackay is a footballer you can set your watch to. Last season he had no less than 13 and no more than 23 touches in a game. That’s the sort of consistency that causes Sam Reid to gently weep himself to sleep at night. Over the course of his career he’s alternated between wing and halfback, averaged 17 touches a game, yet only reached 30 twice. Enough for Andy Otten to say: “You’re My Hero”. He must be doing something right. A whole 220 games deep heading into 2020, it’s unlikely Mackay will change anytime soon. May he continue to rack up middling numbers.
For those of you that have forgotten (yes, that’s right, I’m looking at you. And me. I genuinely forgot…), Tom was a shock pick at number 17 in the 2015 national draft, as draft guru Callum Twomey had him falling down as far as number 45. Seeing as he didn’t make his debut until 2018, many pundits thought maybe Cal was onto something.
However, he then properly alphaed Twomey by finishing second in the 2018 Rising Star – a mere ten votes behind Jaidyn Stephenson. I’m surprised he didn’t champ each and every doubter of his in the aftermath. Unfortunately, Tom’s ACL decided he’d had quite enough time in the spotlight and Round 1 2019 turned out to be his last for the season.
Nevertheless, the Scorsese-obsessed media and communications student has no doubt spent his time plotting a comeback narrative to rank up there with the best of them. Think, Daniel-san crane-kicking Johnny from Cobra Kai in the face. Surely there’s a Hollywood ending on the cards. On a side note, Daniel’s kick was completely illegal. Johnny was robbed. Watch this if you don’t agree.
By all accounts, Taylor Walker is going to play on the wing in 2020.
This is entirely his idea. I can hear the conversation now: “Nicksy. It’s Tex. Welcome to Radelaide. I know you’re the new sheriff in town, but let’s get one thing clear. I’m going full Richo 2008. What’s that? Richo was a far superior athlete? I’ve got the turning circle of a virus-riddled ocean liner? You’ve been listening to Roo too much. He throws high-key shade like it’s going out of fashion. Look mate, me and the moustache are off the leash. I might even grow the mullet out again. You know, for aerodynamics. Watch out. Oh, and I’ll be gifting you a better nickname shortly…”
Now, let’s be serious for a second. Tex was taken at pick 75 in the 2007 draft as part of a now-defunct NSW scholarship program, was spotted downing beers at a SANFL game early in his career after being dropped, but turned it all around to become club captain, play 190 games, and boot 428 goals. Not a bad return on investment. Richo finished third in the Brownlow in 2008 following his move to the wing. Can Walker match him?
Halting the exodus
Radelaide cops a fair bit of flak for being a boring city. Go on. Google it. Leap down that rabbit hole. The line between fact and fiction doesn’t so much disappear as descend into mindless distortion.
All clichés aside, let me lay something on you. Football boss Brett Burton. Head coach Don Pyke. Assistant coach Scott Camporeale. Eddie Betts. Josh Jenkins. Charlie Cameron. Mitch McGovern. Jake Lever. Cam Ellis-Yolmen. Hugh Greenwood. Alex Keath. Sam Jacobs.
A genuine procession straight out of the City of Churches. I mean, to be fair – as Marc McGowan has noted – Tyson Stengle joined the fray, and Billy Frampton walked the gauntlet on his way over from cross-town rivals Port Adelaide. The rebuild of the power stance wall begins in 2020. But will it be great, or a mere fence?