With the Grand Final played and won, the long dark no football months of summer lie in wait for us. In an effort to bring some light to this miserable time, The Pinch Hitters intend to take a look back at the season that was and celebrate the great moments of season 2018. Today we shine a spotlight on Adelaide, who despite failing to live up to preseason expectations still produced moments to savour. Lets count down the Top Five.
5. Beating Sydney in Sydney (Round 5)
Being two and two heading into Round Five was not how Adelaide should have started the season. The Crows could have and probably should have won all four games if they played at their best, but it was not to be. Taking the road trip to Sydney in Round Five didn’t make things any easier, but a strong side, led by four goals from skipper Taylor Walker saw the Crows see off the Swans for a morale boosting win away from the safety of Adelaide Oval. The Crows put the Swans to the sword early in the last before a final Sydney charge was held off and the Crows claimed a memorable ten point victory in hostile territory.
4. Tom Doedee Takes Over
This year’s runner-up for the Rising Star award would have been a shoe in had it not been for the brilliance of Jaidyn Stephenson this year. Many thought that Jake Lever’s exit would have killed the Crow’s backline, but Doedee, a young man with no games to his name immediately became the saviour. Doedee’s courage, quick thinking, intercept marking and quality decision making saw him rise up the ranks to become one of the game’s elite young defenders. Already a cult hero for Crows fans and neutral fans alike, Doedee’s 2018 stats were far more impressive than the man he replaced, Jake Lever produced before his season ending injury.
3. Unveiling Bryce Gibbs
Finally the prodigal son returned home. While many thought Bryce Gibbs was maybe past his prime, or too old to be of any use the 29 year old was unstoppable from the off, a shining light in Adelaide’s midfield. As other big names such as Rory Sloane, the Crouch brothers, and many key position players fell victim to injury Gibbs played all 22 matches in 2018, and finished fourth in the Crows’ Club Champion Award.
In his first season, Crows fans were very happy to see Gibbs in the colours they believe he should have been wearing from the off, and will be excited to see what he can produce for the rest of his career before he signs of in blue red and yellow.
2. Sloane Re-Signs
One of this year’s two biggest free agents along with now ex-Suns captain Tom Lynch, the Crows were desperate to keep Rory Sloane on the books. Sloane, one of, if not the club’s best player, has been a consistent force to reckoned with in many roles across the game. Sloane’s tenacity and hardness at the footy make him priceless around the contest, and his accurate passing and footy smarts add yet another layer to his game.
Many Crows fans, myself included, were ready to say goodbye to Rory this year, and felt it wasn’t long before he announced he’d been snared by a Victorian club for mega-bucks. But it was not to be, and on July 11th Sloane put pen to paper on a monster five year deal to stay at the Crows and refuse the lure of home and big dollars. If he wasn’t already nearly Crows fan’s favourite, he sure was after that.
1. A Big Showdown Victory to Remember (Round 20)
It doesn’t get any better.
After the heartbreaking loss at the hands of Stephen Motlop in Round Eight, the Round 20 showdown saw the ledger be drawn level once again. Not only was beating the old enemy by less than a kick one of the best feelings ever, it was made even sweeter by Josh Jenkins’ late goal to put the Crows up, which maybe, probably, did hit the post.
The vision is pretty inconclusive so in context the right decision was made, but the roar that went around the ground when that was a goal, to quote Brian Taylor, “Oh Boy, Wowee!”. As if winning showdowns didn’t matter enough, this one put the Crows back in front of the ledger and to do it by under a kick in such controversial circumstances, definitely the best moment of season 2018 from a Crows perspective.