Another tough year for a proud footy club which once again copped the torment of a huge AFL fanbase that wanted blood. Don Pyke’s resignation, the sackings of Brett Burton and Scott Camporeale and stepping down of skipper Taylor Walker left a trail of destruction in their wake, with the club still finalising its coaching, leadership and off-field management teams. A new fresh start is what this team needs and 2020 provides its best opportunity yet, but it is not yet here and 2019 will still hurt for a while yet.
What Went Right?
The first half of Adelaide’s season was classy and promising, with the club heading into the bye in fifth place on the ladder with eight wins from their thirteen matches. Not only that but with two impressive wins over both Grand Finalists GWS and Richmond in Rounds 12 and 13, things looked good. The Crows were consistently kicking good scores and importantly managing to restrict their opponents to very little, as their underrated defence continued to impress even without young star Tom Doedee. The Crows defenders were impressive all season long in truth, with only having three figures kicked against them on three occasions, two of these in the last two rounds of the season when the club was being kicked while they were down.
That defensive group lead fiercely by Daniel Talia showed excellent poise and clarity of mind in tough times, even when vastly undermanned and when the Crows forwards could not find their mojo. Moving forward into 2020 with Talia, Laird, Smith, Doedee, Brown and Kelly seems a likely and exciting proposition, with a well-balanced and talented defensive group that can cause serious trouble for all oppositions.
What Went Wrong?
The buzz word of the year surrounding Adelaide was ‘culture’ and boy did we see that word flogged to death in the media. Granted, something about what had been instilled around the club was not right, but any scrap of controversy can be twisted into something beyond what it really is. With so much confusion and drama surrounding them, the Crows capitulated late in the season, managing just two wins after the bye, finishing eleventh and two more wins outside the top eight at season’s end. In this part of the season there was no flow, not like we saw in Round’s 5-13 and certainly not like what we saw in 2017 when they were the powerhouse club of the AFL. The Crows were stilted and struggled to make the critical kick beyond the half forward line and give any good delivery to their forwards.
Darcy Fogarty became a shining light late in the year as the club struggled to find an ideal combination up forward. This tossing and turning over their players would eventually bring about the end of Josh Jenkins’ time in Adelaide and saw Eddie Betts return to Carlton. Now, with less experienced players up front, 2020 becomes the time where Adelaide needs to nail down a front six that can be around for a long time, Fogarty needs to be the key to this, especially when inevitably Walker plays his last footy in a few years’ time.
Round 12 vs GWS @ Adelaide Oval
Adelaide- 12.10 (82)
GWS- 9.7 (61)
In Round 12 Adelaide fought a tight tussle with the Giants all the way to the end. The highly favoured Giants trailed at the first two changes, before leading the Crows into the last term and poking their noses back in front half-way through it. The Crows then, much the surprise of many, levelled their heads and began to wrestle back control, kicking the last four goals to overrun the Giants and win by 21 points. Josh Jenkins, Rory Sloane, Taylor Walker and Eddie Betts all kicked multiple goals and Rory Laird and the Crouch Brothers racked up the possessions as they normally do.
The win put plenty of faith into the side and continued the momentum they already had. They would go on to beat eventually premiers Richmond the next week, and that game is still the last time the Tigers have been beaten.
Brad Crouch collected his first Adelaide Best and Fairest this year after a stellar season. Known to many as the man made of glass, serious concerns over Crouch’s longevity were raised, and whether or not he could play out a whole season. In 2019 Crouch played every single game, averaging over 30 disposals and three marks throughout. His diligence and consistency made him a star in the tricolours, and he impressed across the rest of the league, so much so that his name continued to appear during the trade period.
Despite his warranted attention, Crouch remains at Adelaide for the 2020 season ahead and is poised for another huge year. He along with his brother Matt and fellow star Rory Sloane can be the key to dragging the Crows back into finals contention again. Brad has the ability to mix it with the best and needs to bring that best next season once again.
Final Grade: D+
With so many controversies and twists in the tail, season 2019 will be one to forget from the Crows. With a new coach and a new start in sight, 2020 might just be better, and a chance for new blood and new leadership to flourish might not be such a bad thing at all.
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