Round 1

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Round 1

Post by Lee on Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:13 pm

Whoever you barrack for, the thought of a loss in round 1 is the hidden fear that's not to be mentioned. It lurks in the mind of every supporter, as if it's an insurmountable hurdle that blocks season success. Of course, it's only one game, 2 points and no different to a loss in round 14. Psychologically, though, it sets the mood for a fair part of the early stages of the season.

This is my story from one West Adelaide supporter, but it would be broadly much the same for many others, with different detail.

It started last October. A highly successful season, marred by a justified perception of a defensive, dour playing style which was emphasised by an embarrassing Grand Final lesson from an obviously superior Norwood team. That day pervaded the pre-Christmas period for every West supporter.

Things often go from bad to worse. Next up, the expected news of a salary cap transgression soured the move further. It couldn't get any worse, could it?

Of course it could.

'West lose $500,000, future in doubt'.

It's never been easy following West Adelaide, but you become used to facing adversity and criticism. You've followed them all your life and you wouldn't ever change. There's a bond, shared by so many and shared in some ways with those who support other less fashionable clubs. 'Future in doubt' just makes you and all the others who share that bond resolve that Westies would never fall.

So you get a little annoyed when the salary cap penalty is handed down. You cop an unaffordable fine, you cop a recruiting ban and you can't even get a mini- draft pick. Oh well, at least Port will cop the same, especially as you know they signed Henry Slattery in dubious circumstances. It's not ideal when you cling to the misfortune of others at such times, but small mercies help salve the wounds.

It's announced that Port will be fined $50,000, no recruiting ban and please have a couple of mini-draft picks.

You try to forget it all over Christmas.

2013 comes, Port pinch Ben Newton in dubious circumstances and pre-season continues. Your trial game form is mixed and the forums tell you you'll finish somewhere between 3rd and 8th.

Norwood look unbeatable and we've had what is euphemistically called a 'colourful' pre-season.

The joys of supporting Westies. We get used to it, water off a duck's back.

Time passes. The TFSA countdown clock shows only a few hours to go to the first bounce. Things have changed a bit. The Bloods have renovated the local Church Community Centre and in other news, Norwood have been found to have diddled the salary cap. This time, other's misfortunes are well worth salivating over. West supporters know how to deal with these things better than most. We accept our administration's explanation of a stuff-up. That sounds about right. We grizzle at the penalty, because we know we have no weight with the League and they know that too. On the other hand, Norwood fans immediately know it's an SANFL plot over a missing comma on one contract. Besides, they recruited strongly with Cachia, Batsanis and Newton and were still well under the cap.

Not only that, but opposition supporters needed to be told that they were a disgrace for suggesting that there might be something in it.

It's announced that Norwood would be given the biggest penalty in SANFL, $150,000, partly suspended.

The supporters of 8 other clubs are rapt.

So, fearful of a loss in round one, you watch the first bounce and the first half. Stalemate.

It's early in the third quarter. The pre-season happenings have been forgotten. It will be the same for all the other clubs except one, the one rightfully unfurling a deserved premiership flag, but starting a season under a cloud as well as a flag.

Suddenly, the joy of football. A Magarey Medallist, one of my all-time favourite players, produces a remarkable, skilful, courageous and totally brilliant goal. Then the Bloods manufacture an end-to-end goal of skill and pace. Then they kick another, then another, bombing the ball through from outside 50 in a scintillating display of fast, attacking football.

Where did that come from? I didn't know and I didn't care. All I knew is that we kicked 16 goals, we didn't flood and the crowd left knowing both sides played an entertaining game.

The supporters of Glenelg would have similar feelings, without the pre-season dramas. They've gone about the season under the radar and produced when it counted. Norwood clinically continued as the team to beat, but had other things on their mind. Port fans were deflated. Central supporters knew they were back in the pack, but saw good signs of a younger future. South felt the loss more than most. West fans empathise, we know what you've had to bear. It's round one.

Since the game finished, I've just replayed Jimmy Ezard's goal in my mind over and over again. I'm happy to hear the jokes that I'm in love with how Ryan Ferguson plays. They're true. His legacy will be as a measuring stick at West Adelaide for courage, leadership, skill and what a footballer should be.

So Westies won. And won with flair and style.

It's only round 1 and we might get a shellacking from the Eagles next week, who knows. All I know is that suddenly the pre-season events are pretty irrelevant.

Footy's back, TFSA has established itself despite everything and I need my footy fix.

Bugger it, I think I might just head to Unley to watch Sturt and the Eagles. If you're there, come and have a chat.

Even if you're a 'Legs supporter.

We're all the same, aren't we?
Lee
Lee

Join date : 2011-12-05
Posts : 7052
Location : Talking footy
My club : west

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