The Adelaide Crows headed into the 2017 AFL grand final as one of the hottest favourites in recent history. They had finished minor premier and won their two finals at home convincingly, justifying their favouritism.
Footy is a funny game though and the Crows ran into a very hungry Richmond and it was the underdog Tigers that took home their first premiership since 1980 with a convincing 48-point victory.
That loss definitely hurt the Crows and when emerging defender Jake Lever and small forward Charlie Cameron told the club they wanted to leave, the alarm bells were starting to ring.
The fact that the Crows banned Lever from attending the club’s best and fairest night last year was something that is unheard of at football clubs and the culture of the club was starting to be questioned.
The Crows came into the 2018 season with high expectation and a focus on getting revenge for the disappointing end to 2017; however a combination of a horrific run with injuries and mental scarring from the grand final loss has made this year a season to forget so far.
The Crows could’ve easily been in the eight as they have lost a couple of games to Port Adelaide and Fremantle by less than a kick, however they have lost their past four games and currently sit in 11th spot on the ladder with a tough run home.
The excess of injuries has been concerning and the Crows’ fitness department is under the pump, in particular Matt Hass, the general manager of high performance and Brett Burton, the general manager of football. There has been a staggering eight players who have succumbed to hamstring, including stars such as skipper Taylor Walker, small forward Eddie Betts and last year’s Club Champion Matt Crouch. The Crows fans are irate and want answers.
The fact that Brodie Smith is recovering from a knee reconstruction and Brad Crouch hasn’t played a game this year and has been ruled out for the season hasn’t helped the situation either. Star midfielder Rory Sloane has missed the majority of 2018 with a foot injury and constantly having to deal with speculation that he is heading home to Victoria at the end of the year.
While the injuries are largely to blame, there seems to be more to it than that and the notorious Collective Minds program in the Gold Coast has clearly caused problems at the club and potentially divided the playing group.
There have been allegations of players being blindfolded and forced to repeatedly listen to the Richmond theme song as well as other verbal taunting, which has left some players irate. Although the players won’t admit it, this has definitely affected their performance on the field.
The other interesting fact is that the players refuse to work with the Collective Minds group which proves that there is no doubt it has caused angst amongst the group.
Last year’s grand finalist’s aren’t yet out of the finals equation and they do have some good players to come back after the bye. But they certainly have some work to do if they want to return to the September stage in 2018.