3 clubs, 23 rounds, A slab of passion….

Now there are 4

johnnywinterJust what is the exact difference between a parsnip and a carrot. And don’t give me “er….colour?”. I pondered this tonight on the plate before me and quickly got the answer in the form of the Adelaide Football Club. The confusion between parsnips and carrots stretches back through time. Both conical shape, weird hair like things hanging off them, a medieval family sized bottle topped crown and both give the palate a certain sugar hit. When cut, both show shades of the primary colour strewn through the flash.

There’s no doubt that carrots are preferred on the whole to parsnips – who are the Johnny Winter of the vegetable stage – check our your fruiterer’s offerings for evidence of demand. Like Adelaide – Parsnips are on the nose – especially when roasted in a gentle wash of chilli infused virgin olive oil, cloves and a light dash of tumeric. Today Crow Coach Brenton Sanderson rocked up for a run of the mill meeting with assistants to poke a whiteboard over the tableau of the season. Walked out a few hours later having been given the arse, a victim of lowering levels of tolerance regards failure generally in society along with the creeping influence of the “wisdom of the crowd” where player discontent resides “in the cloud”.

parsnipsSo devastated was Sanderson, he neglected to share with us the regulation selfie on the way out the Adelaide Oval gate to Instagram tagged simply #WTF? What’s the etiquette here for us had it been posted? Like? We got that not quite right feeling in the tummy a few weeks back when Sanderson seem distracted at a time that the Crows – from the perspective of the decision tree analysist – were still in with a show of finishing in the eight. He had a crack at the AFL for regularly programming the Crows to play Brisbane in the heat of the day at the Gabba – despite crushing them by over 100 points. “Keep your weight on the dead man’s handle Brenton” I said to myself, for no-one took me seriously, particularly when the Tigers were next team in the rack with 6 days to prepare. The seed had been planted in the players minds giving them an out when Richmond ripped them apart like an antelope shocked and awed at the Serengeti water cooler.  Then the bombshell today “Both parties have realised they have different perspectives on where we are at as a footy team” and agreed to “part ways” – yep the inevitable invoking of the “crossroads” motif.

Cross town traffic at the Parsnips, er, Port Adelaide who have distractions of a more pleasurable variety in preparing for a preliminary final appearance against my boys, the Hawks. Taken apart by Freo in the first half of Second Semi final last Saturday, Port get back in the premiership quarter to win by 22 points are stunning the Dockers with hard running, roll the dice pings at goal and squaring then winning the clearance differential.

“The ‘Premiership Quarter’ is usually defined as the third quarter in sports of four quarters. It is typically associated with a change in momentum in that period of play, which sees one team taking advantage and continuing on to take the game victory; and thus, potentially a step closer to the ultimate accolade – the title, or premiership.” Not my words but those of a landmark study back in 2010 to flick back through AFL match records to see if there were any tendency to truth of that notion which gives any team that gets on a roll that light and fluffy batter of psychological advantage.

Data was collected on the 2008 and 2009 AFL seasons with relation to each quarter won, and whether the team winning that quarter subsequently went on to win the game. The third quarter percentage was then compared with those of other quarters to see if there was a marked difference. Here’s their findings that like the Port game, suggest the premiership quarter effect helps those who’ve lost the previous quarters.

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It’s not a matter of life or death, but what is?

Port Coach Ken Hinkley gets on the ground quickly to calm the emotions of his men, himself dour, in control and at the vanguard of preparing for the week to follow by putting a lid on it. This is in stark contrast to the Kangaroo’s reaction to overcoming Geelong in the weekend’s other game, when hugs, tears, air punching, high fives and running in the air to land with your crotch on top of your teammates head were club mandated and liable to internal financial penalty if not followed.

Later in the week, Port represented by its senior recruiting football brain and club President David Koch drafts the Johann Wagner, winner of Foxtel’s AFL Reality show “The Recruit” at a specially convened AFL Draft meeting conducted by Gillan McLaughlan live to air. Only 3 of the 18 clubs show interest, notably Greater Western Sydney whose Kevin Sheedy mades an impassioned invitation enhanced by a commitment to personally mentoring the native Port Lincoln lad along with a personal tour of the outer suburbs diverse and enchanting night life washed down with an intoxicating falafel. But you can’t take the country of the boy and he chances his luck at squeezing into a Port over brimming with midfield riches.

Lindsay Thomas, North’s on the edge thespian small forward punctures Geelong’s aspiration with 3 rapid goals in the first 10 minutes of the Game. Geelong spend the rest of the game getting the tyre off the rim, finding the pinch in the rubber, curing the gum and applying the patch only to have the siren blow bike pump in hand.

Troo Roo veteran Brent Harvey is cited for another week off post game by the Match Review Committee in his come back from 3 match suspension for collecting Cat’s duck and weave captain Joel Selwood high and off the ball. Selwood leaves the field bleeding from the eye brow with it’s own history of scarification, the matchday mike picks up his appraisal of the situation as “Boomer fucking hit me in the head”.

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Boomer looks toast for the big dance until the appeal is launched with Selwood cast as star witness – saying he only felt “slight contact” above his right ear. Now despite head contact meaning automatic suspension this year – apart from Buddy Franklin and infamously potentially costing Nat Fyfe a Brownlow – the Appeal committee accepts Geelong doctor’s confirmation that Selwood’s history of cuts made it possible for scar tissue to be “more susceptible to being reopened”. Stopping short of defining Selwood as just a “little Aussie bleeder” the Doc’s work is done and down comes the gavel. In fulfilment of the September tribunal scriptures which eulogised Barry Hall’s clenched fist gut tap on Saint “Moose” McGuire in that  2005 Preliminary final conundrum freeing him to captain a premiership, the angry old Ant is free to play the Swans. You’ve be forgiven for thinkin’ they’re drinkin’ at AFL house and that justice is blind.

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The anticipation is in ascendance with the Kanga’s in hostile Sydney territory and the Power on the road once more to greet the Hawks. Both need to overcome the “long march” of 4 finals matches to make that September Saturday. Let’s hope the parsnips get diced, sliced, grated and julienned at the MCG kitchen this Saturday. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one centre clearance.

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Hit me on the chest with your centimetre perfect pass